Effective time management is one of the crucial keys to success in any business. You know those people who always seem to have plenty of time to get done what they need to? Chances are good that they don’t have less on their plate than others, but rather that they just manage their time better. In fact, there’s a saying that if you want something done, give it to a busy person.
The reason for that is that they have figured out the secret to time management.
Time management involves 4 key spheres:
Scheduling correctly is key. There’s no need to be racing around from appointment to appointment because you didn’t allow sufficient time for traffic. Or, overloading certain days with meetings so that you can’t get to your necessary work – unless you find that works for you! Sometimes leaving a day meeting free can be a deliberate way to manage your time. The secret to scheduling is to never underestimate how long something will take. A great schedule is one where you have planned things so that you can fit in as much as you can, without making yourself crazy. Looking at your week or month as a whole, and knowing what times are busier can help make your schedule feel more manageable by deliberately scheduling around those crazy times.
Time management means that you get everything done by the time that you promised – or even before. Managing your deadlines means working backwards from the due date and making sure that you have time to do all the steps that are needed. Will you need to go through a lengthy approval process? Do you need to get input from other members of the team, or request research from someone else? Making sure that you have accounted for all these details and steps will allow you to stay on schedule and meet your deadlines. This backward planning is an important part of time management.
The enemy of progress is procrastination. Sometimes we procrastinate because we aren’t sure what steps we need to take. Or, we are trying to tackle too big of a task and it appears unmanageable, so we do the worst possible thing: nothing. Planning ahead and knowing how much time you have to allot to each task can be a superb way of mitigating procrastination. Because the truth is that the job does usually expand to fit the time allotted, as the old adage says. By being realistic about how much time a task could and should take, you can make sure that you are managing your time so that procrastination doesn’t have time to take root.
To Do Lists
A cousin to all of these is a manageable to do list, one that is focused on results or tasks – whichever is easiest for you. Some people get immense satisfaction from systematically crossing things off a to do list. No matter how small the task, writing it down and crossing it off brings them great joy. Others want to write down what needs to be done by the end of the day and check their progress against the larger goal as their day winds down. Whichever method works for you, a taut to-do list can be your greatest ally in managing your time effectively.
We all have the same hours in our day and the way we allocate them will be the best predictor of our success in work – and in life. Learning to effectively manage your time will allow you to do more at work and leave work at the office, unburdened by what remains to be done.