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According to the HBR study on organizational time, companies and their employees can free up 20% of their collective hours by having more control over how they manage their time. Proper time management is a crucial part of the work routine, regardless of what you do.
Companies and their employees can free up 20% of their collective hours by having more control over how they manage their time.
If you think that making the most out of the workday is your weak point, read on. We bring you six tips for time management that will help you increase your productivity.
Mondays can be hectic. You’re picking up where you left off on Friday, plus you have a pile of new tasks that need to be completed by the end of the week.
To avoid finding yourself in such situations, try planning your week ahead by setting weekly goals. For example, you can do this planning on Fridays, before heading home from work.
Think about all the essential assignments for the following week, like meetings and project proposals, and write them down. Use a whiteboard, a Google Sheet, or an Excel file to jot down your obligations. Make a plan for each day of the week, but have in mind that you’ll probably have other, unexpected tasks. Try not to schedule every minute of your week (this is counterproductive and usually unattainable!).
Apart from weekly goals, you should create daily plans. At the end of the day, write down your tasks for the next day, starting with the most important ones. Then, once you arrive at work the following day, you’ll know exactly what assignment to tackle first.
In line with what we previously mentioned, setting priorities is a crucial part of your time management. You can have ten tasks for a day, but not all of them will be equally important or urgent.
Now, the key difference between urgent and important assignments is that urgent tasks are time-sensitive. Important assignments are not necessarily time-sensitive but are always related to your particular work goals.
To manage your workdays better, you should list your priorities by using the Eisenhower matrix technique. As per this method, you can group your tasks into four categories:
Once you learn how to classify your tasks into these four groups, you’ll be able to finish the assignments from the first quadrant smoothly. Thus, you’ll enhance your productivity, too.
Timeboxing is another practical time management technique. The idea behind this method is to choose a timebox (a fixed period) for each assignment. Then, you start working and turn on the alarm. You need to work on your task until the alarm goes off. Once you are done, you continue with your next task on the list.
In a way, timeboxing is similar to the Pomodoro Technique, which consists of parsing your work into 25-minute sessions, each followed by a 5-minute break.
Unlike Pomodoro, timeboxing gives you more flexibility.
So, for those more complex tasks, your timebox can last up to one or two hours. Also, when dealing with difficult assignments, you can break the task into smaller activities and assign shorter timeboxes for each activity.
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, writes about “half-work” in one of his blogs. For Clear, half-work is our tendency to check the emails, messages, or phone calls, while dealing with an important task at the same time. For instance, half-work happens when you’re writing a report but often check your phone or social media accounts at the same time.
Instead of doing half-work, you should be focused on one task at a time and eliminate all distractions.
Here’s what Clear recommends: block out time to deal with only one assignment. Then, dedicate as much time as you need to your crucial project and remember to leave your phone in the other room, so that you won’t be interrupted. Clear adds that eliminating distractions is the only way for him to get into deep, focused work.
The Seinfeld method will help you improve your productivity on a long-term basis. This time management technique was named after Jerry Seinfeld’s quote on productivity: “Don’t break the chain”. The purpose of this method is to work on a particular task, project, or skill every day. If you miss a day, you’ll break the chain.
“Don’t break the chain” — Jerry Seinfeld
If you manage to work on your desired task for a week, you’ll see the 7-day chain in your calendar. This will surely be your motivation booster and you’ll want to continue with the same routine. Besides, you’ll be less likely to omit the assignment.
If you have related assignments, schedule the time to handle them together. For example, answer your emails at the beginning and the end of the workday.
The reason is simple: various tasks require diverse types of thinking. So, by focusing on similar tasks at once, you’ll finish them much faster. Plus, these assignments won’t stand in your way of working on other, more demanding tasks.
If your existing work schedule usually leaves you with a pile of unfinished tasks at the end of the day, you should modify your organizational habits.
Start using some of these six handy tips and soon you’ll see what’s suitable for you. Once you discover your favourite method, you’ll gain better control of your time and increase your productivity as well.
Marija Kojic is a time management researcher and writer at Clockify. She is always exploring new methods of how time management can help you organize your workflow more effectively, as well as how you can increase your productivity.