Whether you’re just starting your career or have an established career, effective time management is critical to success in the workplace.
Think about it. The better you are at managing your time, the more you can accomplish. And the more you accomplish, the more opportunities for learning and growth you’ll have.
But there are other reasons to want to maximize your time in the workplace.
- It helps reduce stress.
- It makes your workload more manageable.
- You become better at your job.
And, let’s face it, when you’re not in control of your time, you not only feel overwhelmed at work, you also don’t feel like you’re winning.
If you find yourself struggling with time management, we can help.
Here are 4 quick (and easy) things you can do to manage your time at work:
1. Perform a time audit.
The first step to having a better handle on your time is to have a clear understanding of how you’re spending it. That’s why a time audit is so valuable.
A time audit will show you where you’re spending too much – or too little – time.
Not only will you be able to see how long something is taking, but it will also force you to think about why a task might be taking so long. Is something distracting you? Is it lack of interest or understanding? Did you receive poor direction?
Whatever the reasons may be, a time audit will help you become more aware.
How to perform a time audit for work:
- Determine how much time you have available each day.
- Compile a list of your tasks.
- Make note of how much time each task should take.
- Time yourself to see how long it actually takes for you to complete each item on your list.
Important: Don’t get discouraged by the results of this time audit. Remember, you are simply collecting information. This is the first step towards improvement.
2. Set a time limit on tasks.
Using the data you gathered from your time audit, make note of which responsibilities you know can (and should) be done faster. These are your areas for improvement.
Next, set specific time constraints for each item on your to-do-list. This will help you focus and will prevent you from wasting time.
What if I don’t know how long certain things should take?
We get it. Not everything has a recommended time frame. And though it might be hard to determine exactly how much time you should spend on a task, one thing is always clear: when something is taking too long.
How to set time limits on tasks and improve efficiency:
- Review what items took too long to complete and how long it took to complete them.
- Set reduced time goals or set a time challenge for yourself.
- Ensure you have a timer or alarm running to alert you once the allotted time has ended.
- Repeat regularly.
Setting a time limit on your duties will allow you to use your time more effectively and you will get more done throughout the day.
Important: Don’t be afraid to ask your manager or supervisor for guidance if you’re not sure how long a project or task should be taking. They can help set you up for success by establishing clear goals.
3. Turn your most important tasks into habits.
There are many reasons people put important responsibilities on the back burner. Maybe the task is unclear. Maybe you don’t find it interesting. But, regardless of the reason, it still needs to get done.
One way to make it easier on yourself is to turn these must-do items into habits.
According to Psychology Today, it takes 66 days on average to form a habit. The best way to do that?
How to turn tasks into habits:
- Remember that these tasks are not optional.
- Carve specific time into your day for each task(s).
- Don’t push things off for another day.
- If something comes up during the designated time, make time for it elsewhere.
Baking tasks into your day will not only help you stay on top of those important responsibilities, it will also help reduce stress or anxiety you may feel about the task.
Important: The more consistently you work on a task, the more efficient and skilled you will become – meaning your tasks will become easier and faster to complete.
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4. Get organized and plan ahead.
Relying on your memory for what needs to get done is anxiety-inducing. Organizing and planning ahead can help reduce that stress.
Writing down your tasks and planning out your days eliminates the worry of things falling through the cracks. You will be able to see what needs to get done and set yourself up for success.
How to get organized and plan your work day:
- Write down everything that needs to get done. Whether it’s for the day, week or month, it’s incredibly helpful to have a visual for what needs to get done – and by when.
- Prioritize your projects. This way you can ensure you’re focusing on the larger, more urgent priorities at hand, but you won’t forget the smaller things.
- For a longer-term or bigger project, break up your tasks into bite-size, manageable pieces.
Having a plan for your to-do list will add more structure to your day and will help you make sure you’re not letting things fall by the wayside.
Important: There are many different ways to organize a to-do list. HubSpot has a great article showing the variety of ways you can get organized with pen and paper, or with some mobile apps you can easily use on your phone.
Following these steps will help you manage your time more effectively and will help set you up for success. You’ll also feel less stressed and overwhelmed, and, more importantly, you’ll feel like you’re winning again.
The best part? These time management tips aren’t limited to just the workplace – you can apply these steps to other aspects of your life, too!
Remember, you control your time. Your time doesn’t control you.
How TERRA Can Help You
If time management isn’t what’s causing you stress at work, maybe it’s time for a career change.
Reach out to your nearest TERRA office and speak to a recruiter. They can help you find a job where you can be successful.