Not having enough time seems to be a condition that affects people of almost all industries and walks of life. It doesn’t matter what your job is – chances are on a fairly regular basis you’ve wished you had more time to get everything on your list ticked off.
Some people find managing their time easy: they’re organised and usually manage to get things done on time. Others find it more challenging. These people might struggle to visualise how long tasks are going to take, and end up getting behind – or they may find they spend lots of time on the time-consuming but less important jobs, leaving little time for the things that matter.
We’re going to break down why time management is important, the benefits of learning good time management skills, and a few tips and tricks on how to do that.
How do you know if you need to work on your time management skills?
Regardless of whether you’re good at time management, or you find it challenging, there’s always room for improvement. A quick review of the way you spend your time should reveal the patterns you fall into when working, and the areas where you could adjust the way you work to become more efficient. If you ever get overwhelmed with the amount of work on your plate, find yourself running out of time, or just wish you had more time to spend on the things you enjoy (or earn you money), then it’s worth working on your time management skills.
Be less stressed, have more time
The benefits of good time management are numerous. Managing your time well will almost certainly improve the quality of your work. You’ll have more energy for the things that matter, and the people around you (whether clients, colleagues, family or friends) will benefit too. Better time management means more time with family and friends, and less stress and anxiety: no more lying awake at night worrying about all the things you still haven’t checked off your to-do list!
A little exercise
An easy experiment is to download some free time tracking software (the Chrome app TrackingTime, Toggl and Toptracker are good options) and use it for a week. Set up categories for the different areas you spend your time on: checking and replying to email, sorting out payments or invoices, or browsing social media. Each time you sit down to a task or switch to another one, log it in the app. At the end of the week, you’ll be able to see a breakdown of how your time was spent over the week. You might find you spend most of your time checking email, or that the time you spend procrastinating on Facebook adds up! If you found it hard to track your time because you were constantly switching between projects, think about how much more efficiently you could be working if you focused on one thing.
Don’t fall into the trap
It’s important not to fall into the time management trap of spending more time worrying about your time management than actually doing what needs done. The best ways to avoid this are:
- Find user-friendly tools and apps (like time tracking software or project management platforms) that work for you.
- When it comes to apps, keep it simple: more apps do not necessarily mean better time management!
- Check in regularly with yourself. We’ve all been there: you attend a talk or read an article on time management, and come away fired up to be the most efficient person ever. Two weeks later, you’re back to your old tricks. Regularly checking in with a short course will reaffirm what you already know: that good time management will improve the quality of your work, and create less stress.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few suggestions:
- The Evolve Online academy: short, affordable courses designed to help you upgrade your personal and professional skills (including time management courses)
- Todoist for simple to-do lists organised by project and date
- Asana or Basecamp for user-friendly project management
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