Do you feel pressed for timed Do you have trouble sticking to deadlines? If you’re like most people, you blame the clock.
When you can’t meet your goals for the day, it’s easy to say that you simply didn’t have enough time. But this is just an excuse. And, it’s a bad excuse.
Instead of blaming the clock, your boss, or your co-workers, the person that is most likely responsible is yourself. Even if you do have a valid excuse, no one will buy it. It won’t keep your boss or clients from wanting work completed on time.
So, don’t pass the blame. Accept it and realize that you need to learn how to manage time. Time management is one of the biggest threats to productivity and if you can’t master it, your work performance will suffer.
If you believe this applies to you, then use the following five simple tricks to improve your time management skills.
You Need a Schedule
This first trick may not apply to those that work in an office. But, for those of you that work from home or run your own business, you need a schedule.
When you have all day to accomplish your goals, it’s easy to tell yourself that you can put off work for another hour. Before long, half the day is gone.
You need to have a schedule, even when you set your own hours. Choose a time that works for you and stick to it. For example, if you are more productive in the morning, then work from 8am, to 5pm. If you’re more productive in the evening, work from 12pm to 8pm.
The exact time that you choose is not crucial. What is important is that you set a time and stick to your schedule. After a couple of weeks, you will get used to this routine and it will become a habit.
Choose the Most Important Task for the Day
Each day, you should take a look at what you need to accomplish. Choose the single most important task for the day. Make this your top priority.
When you have several tasks to complete, it’s tempting to start with the easiest tasks. You want to get these out of the way and then you’ll focus on the most important work. That process is backward.
You need to begin with the most important work. Even if it’s a project that will require more than one day to complete, it should be the first project that you work on each day.
Divide Your Time into Blocks
The next trick is to divide your time into blocks. After you set your schedule, divide your day into smaller blocks of time. If you’re going to work eight hours, then divide the day into four 2-hour blocks of time.
Everyone should be able to work for two hours at a time without distraction. At the end of the two hours, take a short break. Stretch your legs and get a drink of water.
The goal of setting these blocks of time is to gain a better sense of how much you can accomplish over a given period of time. You’ll get better at rating your productivity. You’ll also be able to determine your limits, which will be helpful when using the next trick.
Learn How to Say No
This trick is one of the hardest. Some people have trouble saying no. But, you need to be able to say no to people if you feel that you will not have time to complete a project.
For example, if a client has a project that they need completed by the end of the week and you know that you will not have time, then you need to say no. It’s better to be honest and turn down the project than to accept it and then turn it in late.
If you are upfront and honest, more often than not, the client will extend the deadline so that you can say yes.
Get Rid of the Distractions
The last trick for improving your time management skills is to get rid of the distractions. This is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome.
Studies show that 64% of employees visit non-work related websites during work hours. The Internet is not the only distraction. Here are some other problems that can get in the way of work:
- Social media
- Mobile games
If you work from home, you might be tempted to turn the television on. Having it on in the background is a constant distraction. While you may be able to zone the sound out, you will naturally find yourself paying attention to the screen on occasion.
Turn the television off during work hours. If you feel the need to have background noise, then put on some quiet music on the radio. Jazz and classical music are the best options – anything that doesn’t have lyrics. This way, you won’t be tempted to stop working and start singing along.
The internet is one of the worst distractions. A big reason for this is that you may need the internet to perform your job duties. But If you don’t need the internet, by all means shut it off. Turn off your wireless network or unplug your Ethernet cord.
If you do need Internet access, you may have to rely on willpower to avoid browsing the web. Or you can install website blockers. Set your own parental controls and keep yourself from browsing your favorite sites during work hours.
One of the reasons people have trouble avoiding the internet is because of social media sites. But, even if you block the internet on your computer, you may still have access to these sites on your phone.
There are two options that can help you avoid this problem. You can remove theses apps from your phone and only visit social media sites from your computer. Or, you can simply turn off your phone during work hours.
Mobile games can be just as distracting as social media sites. The same tips apply. You can delete the apps or keep your phone shut off.
If you feel the need to play these games during the day, or browse your social media feed, only do so during your lunch break. Limit your play time to 15 minutes, and think of games as a way to clear your head in the middle of the day.
Along with the distractions discussed, we are constantly bombarded with notifications. You may get email notifications, notifications from social media sites, and other alerts.
Luckily, most of these notifications can be turned off. Visit your social media accounts and go to the settings page. Uncheck the option to send notifications to your email address. Do this with other sites that constantly send notifications.
Eliminating distractions is half the battle. You also need to work in blocks of time, schedule your day, and prioritize your projects.
You Can Become a Master of Time Management
Putting these tricks together, you can master time management. It will require some changes to your daily routine. You will need to learn how to unplug the television, put the phone down and focus on your work. You will also need to learn how to say no and prioritize your work.
You can do it. Start with one or two of these suggestions. You can even get started today. Start slowly and then add more of these tricks to your daily work routine. Before long, you will notice that you get more done.
Just remember, don’t fall back into your old routine. Develop positive habits for life and continue to make time management one of your top priorities. Good luck!