Useful time management tips

The working world seems to get more hectic by the week. The continuing development of the internet is making work turnaround times faster and faster, and with it, raising client expectation.

With the world of business moving so fast, it is more important than ever to make the most of what little working time you seem to have.

We’ve compiled a list of items that identifies key areas that, no matter your profession, we can all relate to. If you utilise a few of these points, it’s highly likely that you’ll get more out of each working day.

Time flies but, remember, there’s always time you can set aside to manage it.

Don’t have a deadline? Ask for one

These days, it’s fashionable for bosses and managers to distribute deadlines of ‘ASAP’ more frequently instead of specific project due by dates. If you find your superiors aren’t being specific enough for your liking regarding deadlines, you should consider putting your foot down and insisting on receiving a specific date for each new project.

Whilst ‘ASAP’ sounds intimidatingly urgent for most, you’d be surprised how much more a concrete deadline date spurs you on, and forces you to be more efficient in your day-to-day work activities.

Don’t always say ‘yes’

Whether you’re a business owner or working underneath a manager or director, most people don’t like to say ‘no’ to new work. However, in certain cases, it can benefit you in the long run to politely decline an extra workload or two.

Whether they are aware of it or not, it is in most people’s nature to exploit other people. If you regularly welcome the extra workload that has been palmed off on you via a colleague, that person is likely to come back to you again and again, and you run the risk of you becoming a ‘go to’ guy or girl. Over time, this exploitation of your approachability can have a serious effect on your overall productivity - with extra work putting other deadlines in jeopardy - and will play on your mind, making you less efficient.

Use a project management tool for your to-dos

There are various free internet based tools at your disposal which you should consider using to help manage your time more effectively, namely; Basecamp, Trello, and Wrike.

Whilst these tools have a range of features, we find their most effective application is the management of to-do lists.

The process of offloading your to-do list onto a digital platform, where you can tick off items as you complete them, will free up space in your mind whilst helping you become more organised and efficient, giving you greater encouragement knowing that you don’t have to consult a badly organised work doc each time you finish something.

Remember, you don’t have to be a project manager to utilise tools that project managers find helpful. Hosted online, you access these tools wherever you are, via any device, optimising your time travelling in between meetings – an ideal time for getting on top of your to-do list.

Turn phone notifications off

If you’re feeling particularly pressured, put your personal phone on silent and switch notifications off so that you are not interrupted once you’re at the height of your productivity. A ringing, vibrating, bleeping phone can cause a lot of disruption and cause you to lose your trail of thought, whilst your phone’s notification light glowing in the corner of your eye can be very off putting.

Take time to plan

Okay, this seems like an obvious suggestion, but you’d be surprised by the sheer amount of people who dismiss the idea of planning time, citing ‘not enough time’ as their reason.

However, you are statistically more likely to meet more deadlines and get more work done if you plan your work in advance of getting down to do it. There’s s no need to go overboard – a simple 30 minutes at the start of your day should be sufficient planning time, or even spending half an hour before you go home each evening to plan the following day.

This should help you stay focussed on each task as you work through it, instead of worrying about what’s coming up next, and will allow you to seamlessly move from one task to the next.

Schedule email/phone response time

These days a lot of conversation takes place via email, which is obviously very handy, but can become burdening. Responding to emails instantly can set up a certain expectation with the people that you are dealing with, and further down the line they might become disappointed if you don’t pen a response immediately.

To help manage both your time and your contacts expectations more effectively, and to help mitigate needless conversation, you could consider scheduling half an hour per day to answer your emails and any phone calls that you may have missed.

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