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There is no shortage of so-called time management strategies. In fact, there is an excess of them. But quantity does not necessarily mean quality, and this is certainly one of those cases – because the overwhelming volume of time management advice is somewhere between painfully obvious and staggeringly impractical; specialty for managers.

time management strategies

Best Time Management Strategies

Fortunately, if you’re looking for practical and proven advice, then you have come to the right place! Below are five effective time management strategies that actually work:

    1. Don’t Start and End Your Day with Emails
      If you are among the millions of people (it may even be billions at this point) whose first act on waking up is to grab your smartphone and scan for new emails – and last act before going to bed is to do the same thing – then please heed this wisdom and warning: stop!Research has shown that this habit is not enhancing your productivity. In fact, it is undermining it, because it forces you to focus on tasks instead of priorities. Furthermore, it is unhealthy and over time can contribute to excess stress, exhaustion and burnout.Naturally, if you have been starting and ending your day with an email check for several years, then it is going to be difficult to change course. But the effort is worthwhile in the long run, and will give you much more clarity when you start your day, and much more comfort when you end it (which will improve your quality of sleep and ultimately help you be more productive). It may also prevent you from sending one of those very early morning or late night “ugh, I wish I didn’t send that without thinking it through!” emails – which is certainly a welcome bonus!

 

    1. Get to Know the 80/20 Rule Really, Really Well
      The 80/20 rule – also known as the Pareto Principle – is a quality assurance theory that posits 80 percent of the output from a situation or system is determined by 20 percent of the input. What does this have to do with time management strategies? Well, the same thinking can be applied when it comes to work management. That is, 20 percent of work produces 80 percent of results.As such, spend the next two weeks auditing how you spend your time. Then analyze your efforts, and see whether the Pareto Principle is working for you, or against you. If it is the former, then pat yourself on the back for being a time management master. But if it is the latter (and this is probably going to be the case to some extent), then look for practical ways to spend less time on low-value tasks, and more time on high-value priorities. Delegation, automation, and learning the art “saying no without saying no” will all be helpful to you in this worthy pursuit. As Henry David Thoreau sagely observed: “It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”

 

    1. Identify When You’re the Most Productive
      One of the valuable insights that you will glean from auditing how you spend your time (as discussed above), is that you will also discover when you’re the most productive. For example, you may learn that you are the most efficient between 9:00am and 10:00am, and the least efficient between 4:00pm and 5:00pm.Naturally, this does not mean that you should schedule everything for the morning, and go off the grid at exactly 3:59:50pm each day. However, it does mean that you should try to schedule high value priorities when you are the most productive. The quality of your work will increase, and so will your productivity and efficiency.

 

    1. Minimize Interruptions and Distractions
      If you pride yourself on being a masterful multitasker, then unfortunately there is some bad news: there is no such thing as multitasking. And any belief to the contrary is not just diminishing your productivity – and hence, wasting your time – but it’s also probably elevating your stress levels and wearing you down physically, emotionally and psychologically.By dialing down distractions – which could mean turning off (or at least pausing) the endless stream of app notifications, and only checking/sending emails at specific times during the day – you will become a masterful omni tasker, which is much more rewarding. You will spend less time and effort to get more done, and at a higher performance level.

 

  1. Embrace Downtime
    Believe it or not – and it may indeed sound a bit strange at the moment – but one of the surest ways to boost your efficiency is not by dialing up your level of activity, but by dialing it down. By embracing downtime, you will give your mind the opportunity to unpack and your body to recharge. What’s more, you may become much more inventive. Research has found that creative discoveries occur more often among individuals who take short breaks vs. those who frantically race through the day).

Time Management Strategies for Managers

Just as you need to track how you spend your time (and prepared to be shocked at the variance between what you think you do, and what you actually do!), you also need to track what your team is doing – and what they are not. The simplest and easiest way to do this is by implementing real-time tracking software. Not only will this make your team more efficient – which ultimately helps you become more efficient – but it enables you to generate accurate progress, utilization and cost metrics for various projects and programs.

Time Management Techniques: Do’s and Don’ts

Before embracing all of these time management strategies and techniques, here are some helpful do’s and don’ts to make your experience rewarding instead of regrettable:

  • Do use technology to help you become more efficient.
  • Do plan ahead and set goals – provided of course that they are realistic.
  • Do try and schedule some “buffer time” between two tasks.

And now for what to avoid:

  • Don’t automatically say “yes” to every request. Remember: saying yes to something tacitly means saying no to something else – like some much-needed downtime.
  • Don’t expect perfection. There will be days or even weeks where your time management game is not great. Just focus on getting back on track as quickly as you can. Effective time management is a marathon, not a spring.
  • Don’t procrastinate and keep pushing difficult or unenjoyable tasks into the future. It may help to promise yourself a (healthy) reward for at least putting a dent into a particularly odious, but necessary task.
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The Bottom Line on Time Management Strategies

Thomas Edison once said that “time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing one cannot afford to lose.” By embracing the time management strategies discussed above, you will be on your way to maximizing your time – which will professionally and personally reward you in ways that you can currently imagine and, probably in even more ways that you cannot!


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