Tips and Tricks for Time Management

I get it. You’re busy, I’m busy, we’re all busy. We all have deadlines (including this blog post). We’ve all told our bosses that we would get it done now, and we’ve all told our clients that tasks will be done by “EOD.”

So why another blog on time management?

Well, simply put: your skills are noticeable, and that includes time management. Time management is one of the most impressive and sought-after skills in a team member. By managing your time better, you’ll not only help yourself get the job done, but you’ll be that much more useful to your superiors and your clients.

Here are some tips for better time management.

  1. “Duh” tip one: that to-do list. There’s a reason why everyone has one: it works. If you haven’t already implemented one, it’s time to get started. Just try it out and see the difference.
  1. “Duh” tip two: that to-do list, again. But this time check it at the end of the day and update the list for tomorrow. If you wait until morning, you’ll find that you’re just not as productive as if you had planned it the day before.
  1. Prioritize. Don’t dance around your tasks, completing the ones that you just feel like doing at the time. Put more important items first, and then use the tasks you actually want to do as motivation to get it done efficiently.
  1. Don’t know what’s important? Well, this dude named Eisenhower does. Remember that what’s important is not always urgent, and what’s urgent is not always important.
  1. See that really cool, potentially overpriced, phone thing you’re carrying? Put your to-do list there and BAM! It’s always with you. Just like “The Force.”
  1. Don’t be a baby about your tough tasks. Just do it (insert Shia LaBeouf meme here).
  1. If a task takes less than five minutes, just get it done without adding it to your schedule. If it takes longer, then list it out. It takes you more time to plan out your tiny tasks than it does to actually do them.
  1. Deal with those pesky emails at set times each day. Living email-to-email can feel like living paycheck-to-paycheck.
  1. Find your “sanctuary.” Meaning find a concentrated time to work on your tasks. Plug those earbuds in, retreat to the conference room and get shit done.
  1. Set out a scheduled time each morning for high priority tasks. You’re most productive in the morning, so having that time is vital. Note that I said to schedule the time, and not necessarily the task. Use the full time, and if you finish the high-priority items, use that productive time to finish everything else. You might even be able to free up some time for things you actually WANT to do.
  1. Track your time. As mundane and exhausting as that sounds, it’s important to audit your time and see where you fall short and where you are exceeding expectations. It will help you know where to improve and streamline your processes.
  1. “Duh” tip three: get rid of your distractions. Turn off your cell phone, turn off your chat feature and just politely tell your coworkers you need to concentrate. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done.
  1. Remember when your mom would cut your steak up on your plate so you could eat it better? Have a large project that needs to be worked on? Same concept. Break it down into digestible pieces.
  1. The power of the “buffer.” Give yourself some time on those large projects. With so many moving parts, so many opinions, etc., allow yourself some time to make sure things are correct.
  1. The mundane tasks. Everyone has them and everyone loathes them. Chances are you’re probably a bit of a competitive person, so track those tasks and then find a way to make them better and faster.
  1. Set time limits for all your tasks. Knowing how long something takes and where it falls into your day frees up time for other things. There will be less scrambling to get everything done, and less “what should I do now?” times as well.
  1. Stick to what you know works best. If some of your tasks take x amount of time to accomplish, but sure to only spend x amount of time on that task.
  1. Your time is valuable! Be sure to value your valuability. Set boundaries with co-workers, with your Social Media, and with your breaks. How much value are you losing with that extra ping-pong game?
  1. Remember you have the power to say no. Knowing when and where to say ‘no’ will go a long ways into scheduling your time out more freely.
  1. “Duh” tip four: don’t overschedule yourself. You’ll burn out and die.
  1. The items that regularly come up last on your list? Delegate those out if you can. New, more important items will be added before them anyway.
  1. Use the “One and done” approach to email. When you get your email, either get the task done or place it in your task list before moving on to the next email.
  1. Treat yourself. When you accomplish a big task or all your tasks for the day, get yourself a candy bar. Or a vodka tonic.
  1. Your workspace could be your problem. Both in terms of your desk and your desktop. Organize. Know where things are. Know where to put things.
  1. Align your schedule to your best working times. Are you a morning person? Are you an afternoon person? Peak your tasks to your body. You’ll be way more productive, and much happier.

Test out some of these simple things. See what works, see what doesn’t and adjust accordingly. Your clients will respect you more if your time management skills are on point. and your bosses will notice.

No one wants to be the “He said he would but never did,” type of guy.