5 Ways to Immediately Improve Your Time Management

Time ManagementHow much time a day do you waste? That’s a tricky question. Most of us would like to answer “none,” especially when it comes to work-related time.

But, that isn’t the case for most. In fact, 61% of survey respondents admitted to wasting 30 minutes to an hour of time everyday on non-work related activities. In that same survey, a number of respondents even admitted to wasting at least half of an eight-hour workday.

Can we be blamed for wasted time in our digital world, where social media, news articles and other distractions are just a click away? Yes; we must be held accountable for our time management skills.

Read on for five ways you can improve yours.

1. Record Your Ideas

How many times have you heard the phrase, “I get my best ideas in the shower?”

For many of us, relaxing activities enter us into what’s known as the incubation period, or a few minutes to let your mind wander. So, next time you get a great “ah ha!” thought (whether it’s before bed, sitting in traffic or in the shower), record it for future reference. By writing down ideas, you’ll save time before your next meeting.

2. Switch Gears and Come Back

In many work environments, especially agencies, time is money. For professional services, this often translates to efficiencies. But, what happens when you’re burned out on ideas or just can’t make it over that creativity hump?

We’ve all had those days where we expect it to take an hour to write a blog post, yet three hours later, we’re still staring at the same four paragraphs.

If you find yourself unproductive, whether it’s because you’re stressed with other assignments, distracted by chatting coworkers or just plain confused, switch gears and come back to it Iater.

The Washington Post says taking a break from a problem allows the brain to forget what you were fixated on and allows other ideas to bubble up on the surface. This boosts your efficiency, saves time and spares you from a rush job when you turn the assignment in for review.

3. Change Environments

Let’s face it: There are always times when we find ourselves completely uninspired to complete a project. Rather than wasting your time daydreaming or writing the same thing over and over, take a break and move around. At our agency, we’re lucky enough to have different settings we can sit at throughout the day.

Next time you find yourself in an unproductive jam, save yourself time in the long run by taking five minutes to decompress, find a new location to work, and get back on track.

4. Schedule and Plan Your Day

We live and work in the digital work. With that brings an uphill battle against distractions. Think about how many times a day you check your email, sit in a meeting you may not have needed to be in or just surf the web. This equates to wasted time that could have been dedicated to crossing off to-dos on your checklist.

To combat distractions, schedule your day. At our agency, we have a rule that two hours in the morning and afternoon are strictly dedicated to client work. Best practice is not to schedule meetings, send out company-wide emails or ask questions that aren’t pressing during these times. That way, we can all stay on task without unnecessary distractions.

We also post our daily priorities to our internal discussion board. That way, everyone can see what you need to achieve that day. Planning your daily priorities holds you accountable for what you need to accomplish in the day.

5. Set Goals and Test Your Averages

While you’re establishing time management processes that work for you, also consider goal setting. As a starting point, think about the tasks that take you the longest or the ones you find yourself least efficient. 

Establish how you’d like to improve with goals. Maybe you want to cut your writing time in half or spend less time researching prior to writing a report. Whatever the factors may be, write down the task you’d like to improve, the time it normally takes, and the time factor to improve it.

Writing those goals out for yourself will keep you on track. Keep a log of the time spent and compare to historical averages.

What tips do you have to improve time management? Comment below and share your ideas.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

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