With the concept of ‘smart work’ replacing the age old cliché of ‘hard work’ as the ultimate mantra of success, effective time management has become the sole concern of all those individuals who are struggling to meet the demands of their personal and professional lives. Adopting the following strategies can help in warding off those feelings of frustration or discontentment which arise when you miss out on several things in life, due to lack of time.
Acquiring Excellent Organizing Skills
A systematic approach towards your work is undoubtedly the key to effective time management. Locating essential documents, or other work related stuff often consumes a lot of precious time. Had the things been stored in an organized manner, settling down for work becomes much easier and quicker. You might even end up wasting substantial hours every week trying to locate those important files on your table, or the storage system of your computer. Here are some good starting points-
- Keep yourself equipped with an efficient system for keeping track of all the files, important e-mails or data sheets which are being received or sent by you on a daily basis.
- You might even consider experimenting with various systems of organizations before narrowing down on the ones which are most suitable for the nature of your work.
- Preparing separate folders on your P.C. or laptop, applying tags to your documents, or setting up boxes and file folders of different colors in your workstation for demarcating specific projects of separate clients, can save a lot of time and unnecessary tension
Designating A Specific Area For Work
For creating an ideal ambience for work, create or carve a designated area or work space, your sacred precincts for for carrying out all your work related functions smoothly, with minimum interruption, to rule out unnecessary wastage of time. If you are working from home, you do get to enjoy a lot of liberty and additional flexibility, but it solely depends upon you whether you allow these factors to become your greatest strengths, or weaknesses, in the context of your work.
While at home, you can easily hop into your bed with your laptop, or opt for your dining table to enjoy your freedom, especially since no one is there to dictate you around! But unknowingly you would end up taking a longer time to complete a particular assignment, because-
- You would constantly have to get up for shifting things here and there
- You would also need to fetch stuff which you might have left in the other room.
- The best idea would be to set up a specific work area on a permanent basis, with a desk having inbuilt drawers where you can keep all your files and stationery organized.
Converting Empty Space Into Your Workstation
If you are wondering how to squeeze out a separate area for work within your home, there is don’t be intimidated by the fear of huge expenditure or space crunch! All you require is a sharp eye for locating a particular pocket of empty or unutilized space in any corner of your house. You might even consider removing an old wardrobe or any other furniture which is no longer in use, for creating some extra space. An inbuilt desk or office armoire can be of immense help in this regard. And you will be all set to experience your brand new work space.
Setting The Mood For Work
In order to further ensure the efficient utilization of time while working at home, decking up in regular office clothes along with your usual socks and polished shoes can perfectly set the mood for fullest concentration on your part! That would reinforce the ‘office’ feeling instead of a laid back approach, and you would find it much easier to fulfil those deadlines at work.
Tapping The Power Of Modern Technology
Time management has been one the key success skills that have been made more easily attainable than ever by technology. The good old grandfather clocks, classic timepieces, calendars and diaries have always been your loyal buddies, and will continue to be so. But apart from them, you can make use of multiple online and offline applications and customized tools.
- The practice of flagging e-mails containing essential data, or writing notes in your phone’s memo, is frequently adopted by many users.
- You can even introduce a soft board to your personal workstation where you can pin up schedules or priority lists so that they immediately catch your eye the moment you step in.
- You can even stick small papers of reminder on your desk or a place where you would easily get to notice them.
Various time management tools can be tried out for determining the most effective one for you.
Defining Goals With Crystal-Clarity
Your time management strategies can never be deemed complete without setting up realistic goals. Prioritizing tasks is really important in order to develop a clear notion about that seemingly eternal list of things, to do which require your time and concentration the most. The practice of arranging tasks according to their order of importance immensely helps in determining the allocation of time as well as the direction of work.
- Focusing on short term goals is as important as the long term ones, since they tell you which tasks require your immediate attention.
- It is really important for your goals to be clearly defined and achievable. Absurd goals would only end in frustration and consequentially, the wastage of more time.
- The aim of the goals is to increase your focus and efficiency so that you manage to finish your tasks within the stipulated time. If you can make it earlier, then you get to enjoy the bonus time at your own will!
Setting Practical Achievable Targets
The concept of work without deadlines is quite similar to that of a mountain without sharp cliffs! There might be situations when you are not answerable to any boss or client, but that doesn’t mean that you would continue working on a project eternally? In such cases there is no other way besides setting deadlines of your own, especially if you are interested in getting things done within a certain period of time. If Tuesday is your deadline, then it is always better to work a little harder and get it completed by Monday. The time that is saved, can be utilized either for a new project or for errands at home.
Formulating Plans In Advance
Effective planning is the ultimate key to success in any sphere. Planning might be yearly, quarterly, monthly, or even fortnightly, depending upon the nature of your work. It is really essential to plan out the dates of meeting with clients, submission of projects or other important appointments much in advance so as to avoid serious mistakes which might cost you a lot in the long run. Depending on whether you have shorter or longer deadlines, you can easily figure out the maximum amount of time that you can devote to any particular assignment.
Preparing Your Priority List
Prioritizing your work is the first and foremost objective for getting things completed on time. Setting a priority list in decreasing order of importance will be of great help, since you can begin working on the items which feature at the top of the list with earlier deadlines, and then you can gradually move on to the following ones.
- In between assignments, please do not forget to reserve time slots for grocery shopping, family outings, medical checkups, meetings or functions at your child’s school and other social events where your presence really matters.
- You can put a star mark with colored ink for shortlisting the events which are completely unavoidable, and distinguishing them from the ones which you wish to attend, only if you can manage some spare time after work.
Division Of Labor Is Good
Instead of struggling to accomplish every single task by yourself, there is no harm in hiring a bit of help so that you can solely concentrate on the things which you specialize at. Outsourcing a portion of your to another person or agency, not only reduces your efforts, but also saves a lot of time, and ensures that the work is completed in a proper manner.
- For instance, if you do not have the time to conduct a thorough research for a new assignment, you can always get it done by your assistant while you continue working on your ongoing project.
- At home, hiring a babysitter or a housekeeper would ensure that your kids are in safe hands, and the various responsibilities within the house such as cleaning or cooking are properly taken care of, when you cannot manage the time.
Trying Permutations And Combinations For Shortening Processes
Streamlining your routine activities with a bit of extra thought and effort, is one of the best ways of saving time at work. In every occupation there are certain routine activities which need to be repeated on regular basis. It is highly recommended to take a deeper look into your current methods of accomplishing routine tasks. You might try coming up with new ways of shortening the process by combining or eliminating a few steps. The use of automated programs or templates is an efficient technique of reducing the time spans and getting a greater volume of work done.
Declining With A Polite Statement Of Refusal
Over ambition causes a lot of people to take up volumes of work, far beyond their normal capacity. This inevitably leads to failure in meeting deadlines, and even if they are somehow met, the quality of work turns out to be remarkably poor. Taking up more projects than you are capable of handling, can end up upsetting schedules at work as well as home. And this is bound to leave a significant impact on your personal and professional relations.
- Before accepting fresh assignments, it is really essential to keep your schedules in mind.
- Saying ‘no’ right at the beginning is certainly much better than not being able to stick to commitments.
- This gesture of honesty on your part would be highly appreciated, since you would be saving your client, as well as yourself from a lot of unnecessary complications and wastage of precious time.
- The same theory is applicable in your personal life too. If you cannot afford to spend your time on a particular activity or event, a polite refusal is the best solution.
By this time life must have taught you that it is practically impossible please your family, friends, clients and neighbors at the same time!
Getting To Discover Your Productivity Cycles
Every individual is unique in nature, so there can be a lot of variation in the ways they function. Your body clock plays an extremely vital role in regulating your levels of productivity throughout the day. It might be the case that your energy peaks during the nocturnal hours, and you feel sloppy in the day time. The trick here is to demarcate the hours when you are most productive. Try to utilize those particular hours every day for accomplishing the most significant tasks demanding maximum attention. The rest of the hours can be used for regular household chores, entertainment or simply catching up on your sleep.
Demarcating Fixed Hours For Work
Preparing a daily routine and abiding by it is a foolproof technique of time management.
- Depending on your body clock and productivity cycles, set aside fixed hours for completing tasks. For instance, if you are feel that you are most productive between 11pm and 6am then you can easily turn them into your regular working hours and make sure that you follow the same schedule every day.
- This also means that you shall not continue to work after 6am. Because it would either be the time for you to go to sleep, or get the kids ready for school, or anything else, depending on your personal schedule.
- Taking a couple of weekly offs according to your convenience, can be really beneficial. It will not only refresh your mind but also provide you the opportunity of relaxing and unwinding with your loved ones. Going to the bank, shopping for essential supplies, seeing a movie, meeting friends – all such activities can be clubbed together and left for these two days in a week.
Eliminating Sources Of Distraction
There are a number of ways in which many people end up wasting a lot of valuable time, without even realizing it! Have you ever wondered, how many times in a day you check for new tweets and Facebook updates? How frequently do you respond to chat messages and texts on your cellphone? And what about those repeated visits to the cooler to refill your glass?
It is completely your duty to identify the basic drawbacks in your time management strategies, and to initiate the suitable corrective or preventive measures.
- Dedicate an hour or two for social networking sites and make it a point to firmly stick to it.
- No need to log in after regular intervals. Consequentially, you will be able to concentrate better and avoid getting distracted in between important tasks.
- Keep a bottle of water handy so that there is no need to get up and fetch water every time you feel thirsty.
Multitasking Can Be A Bane
The ability to multi task is indeed something to be proud of, but multitasking does not help in all situations. If you are trying to focus on something which is really important, multitasking can actually be harmful. Trying to work on a couple of assignments at the same time can result in a total fiasco! Rather if you get really bored of working on one particular assignment for a long time, try taking them up on a rotational basis instead of dealing with all them simultaneously.
- After working on a project for three hours at a stretch, you can switch to the second one, and then again back to the former.
- Even at home, multitasking attempts can be dangerous at times. For instance, while you are ironing some clothes in the living room, a dish might get burnt in the kitchen oven because you completely forgot about it while trying to focus on ironing.
Giving Yourself Some Breathing Space
Unless you adopt the healthy practice of incorporating short breaks in your hectic schedule, it might take a serious toll on your healthy and overall productivity. Burnout can severely hamper your concentration and productivity in the long run. Learning to give yourself a bit of space would restore your depleted energy and retain your enthusiasm in whatever you do. Accumulation of stress can manifest itself in the form of severe physical and psychological disorders and render you unproductive for quite a long time. Taking your pet for a walk to the park, riding your bike, enjoying a swim, or going on a picnic can rejuvenate your mind and body.
Maintenance Increases Preparedness For Adversities
Time management strategies can never survive in the absence of discipline and proper maintenance. Regularly maintaining things at home and work not only assists in time management, but also ensures that you are not caught unaware by unforeseen circumstances in life. Keeping your workspace free from clutter, organizing folders in your P.C. with proper backup for valuable data, getting your laundry done on time and paying attention to repairs can save you a lot of time and effort in future. It is equally important to maintain yourself with proper diet and exercise so that ailments cannot play havoc with your time and productivity.