We live in a modern world where everything can be done almost instantly. Technology has become our partner at home, in school, and at work. We use it to save time and energy, from cooking our food to getting to our workplace and completing our tasks.
But how come people are busier these days than they were decades ago? While technology makes us do more. It can also make us do less. Research says that: College students spend more time engaged in leisure or sports and only 10% on sleeping. Americans 75 years and older watch TV twice as much as teenagers.
American adults spend most of their waking hours (11 hours) staring at their screens (watching videos, browsing the web, and connecting on social media). That’s whopping 77 hours per week! Yes, more than the time we spend on working.
There is no doubt that time management is an important skill that we all have to possess to do more in less time. But admit it – it’s one of the toughest things to do. In the world that is bombarded with technology and distractions, getting work done can be a big struggle for both the young and old.
Don’t worry. It’s not too late. If you’re looking to boost your productivity but don’t know where and how to start, keep reading. In this guide, we will talk about how you can manage your time effectively using the right tools and strategies.
Analyze your time
The first step on how to manage time is analyzing how you currently use your time. The best way to do this is to get a pen and paper (or open an Excel sheet) and tally up your time for the entire week. Document your tasks or activities and how much time you spend on each one. Do this daily for one week so you can have a more accurate record.
Understand what you spend your time on during the week to find areas of improvement. Use time management tools and free time clock software that let you track your time. Tracking your daily activities helps you examine wastefulness, such as what tasks you spend a lot of time on but are not necessary. You might think that you know yourself too well but you might be surprised to find out some lapses with your time management skills.
Prepare reports and evaluate them. Use time management software to facilitate this process. Once you have you have the data, it’s time to gather insights. Investigate time demands, particularly those that are unproductive and unnecessary. When determining the importance and necessity of each task, ask yourself – Does this task relate to my priorities? Is it required of me? Can it be delegated to someone else? Can I spend less time on it? What are the consequences if I don’t finish this task on time?
Time Tracking Software
Time tracking software is a great tool to help improve your time management skills. They come in various forms and some can even be downloaded for free online. If you are managing a team, such software helps ensure the productivity of your members by letting you track how they make use of their time, how much it takes to complete a certain task, and monitor their performance without the need to micromanage. If you’re an employee (or team member), time tracking software can keep you motivated to avoid distractions and stay focused on your job.
What does goal-setting have to do with time management? Without a clear goal, prioritizing gets so challenging. You will also feel less motivated to complete tasks in a timely manner. Your goals should be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. When you know where you are going, you will know how to get there.
The next step in effective time management is learning how to prioritize. You can’t juggle with so many tasks at a single time. You must know which ones to complete first, based on their necessity and urgency. There are many prioritization techniques that you can try. Experiment on what works for you. Do some planning during the week. Identify more important activities. Have a “to-do list”. And set time for leisure and recreation. It’s how you define effective time management.
Multitasking doesn’t work
Many people think that multitasking is the magic bullet approach on how to manage time. You may feel like you are being so productive when you multitask. But the truth is you don’t. Multitasking doesn’t work. And the reason why is that our brain cannot focus on one task or activity at a time. Instead of trying to do things all together, play your day in separate blocks and complete things based on your priorities. Create clear boundaries. Work on things that have the biggest impact, down to those that have the least. That’s how you do effective management of time at work and even at home.
Cut off distractions
According to research, it takes 25 minutes for a typical worker to go back to work after an interruption. Distractions are major time wasters. Go offline and concentrate on your tasks. Choose a specific time for a task and eliminate everything else. If this could mean switching off your phone or logging out your email account, then so be it.
Do not procrastinate
Set Deadlines for yourself to keep you focused. Do big tasks first as we all tend to have more energy, creativity, and willpower during the first few hours of the day than late in the afternoon or at night.
Productivity is not an accident. It is always a product of intelligent efforts and commitment to excellence. And to be productive, you should learn how to manage your time effectively. Amidst all sorts of time-wasters, we can get more things done and achieve our goals by analyzing how we use our time, prioritizing, focusing on one task at a time, cutting off distractions, and eliminating procrastination.