Some people are so good at managing their time and obligations that it seems like it comes naturally to them. On the other hand, there are serial procrastinators and others who can’t seem to get organized and get things done.
To the latter, it may appear that time management is something you’re either born with or not. Luckily, that’s far from the truth. It is a highly learnable skill that only takes a bit of awareness of your habits and practice.
Poor Time Management Can Hurt Your Work in Many Ways
If you’re disorganized and inefficient in doing your job, your work life can suffer as a consequence. There are so many things that can go wrong. If you tend to procrastinate and leave things unfinished until the deadline, chances are you’ll make tons of mistakes. What’s more, you’ll also feel much more stressed out and consequently, underperform in other aspects of your work as well.
Another issue people with poor time management skills face are poor working relationships. Procrastinating, making mistakes, and missing deadlines can lead to awkward situations at work and even get you fired.
If you’re a business owner or a manager, your poor time management might have more to do with trying to do everything yourself than lack of motivation. Nevertheless, this problem can seriously hurt your business or team and cause it to fail as you leave various loose ends.
However, if you’re struggling with this issue, there are ways to turn it around, get organized, and become much more productive and efficient.
How to Hone Your Time Management Skills and Organize Your Work Life
Here are some tips to help you overcome your problems and hone your time management skills at work.
Plunge Into It
The worst thing you can do for your productivity is procrastinating at the beginning of the workday. If you don’t plunge straight into work at the start, you’ll have a much harder time starting later. We all know the saying — well begun is half done!
What’s more, as time goes by, you’ll keep losing your focus, and it will only get more difficult to do anything later. So whenever you want to leave a task for later, remember that no matter how poor your focus is now, it is not getting any better.
Set SMART Goals
Before you start working, first, you need to set goals for the workday. But you need to be highly specific as to what you need to get done. So your goals should be SMART:
So instead of setting vague goals, such as, “I will work harder today,” be specific as to what exactly you need to do today. What particular task do you need to tick off the list?
Focusing on small and easily doable tasks you can leave for later while avoiding the complicated project whose deadline is nearing is just another form of procrastination. You’re not helping yourself by ignoring the elephant in the room.
So you need to learn how to prioritize. It’s best to do your deep work first and leave the easiest work last instead of doing the opposite. In other words, think about the biggest nuisance you need to deal with today and focus on that first.
Organize Your Workstation
Clutter is proven to give us anxiety and heighten our stress levels. So a disorganized workstation means a disorganized mind. If you want to feel in control and be better able to focus on your work, make sure your environment is neatly organized. Remove anything unnecessary and don’t let coffee mugs loiter around for too long.
If you want to take it up a notch, you can even try to feng shui your workstation and see how it works out for you.
Maybe the reason you can’t finish your tasks on time is that you have too much on your plate, and it’s just not doable, no matter how efficient you are. Consider your core responsibilities and delegate everything else if possible.
If you spend more time fixing your website than dealing with customers, hire a web designer. If you’re overwhelmed with administrative work, get an assistant. If you can’t focus on your business’ core services because you spend hours worrying about your vehicles, outsource your fleet management. It’s that simple.
Take Scheduled Breaks
You’re much less likely to take “wild” and unpredictable breaks if you schedule them in advance. It’s best to plan for breaks after completing coherent chunks of work and not at random. This will give you a sense of achievement and encourage you to truly savor your time off, knowing you’ve completed something important.
You can have many short, ten-minute breaks and plan a longer one for lunch. You can allow yourself that luxury if you really spend all the time in-between working.
Remove Any Distractions
The number one enemy of getting things done are our smartphones. It’s so easy to get distracted and lose focus if you keep getting messages in a group chain or notifications from social media. So put your phone away, and check it only during your breaks.
There can be other distractions as well, most commonly, your colleagues. Ask them not to bother you unless it’s something extremely important.
You Can Practice and Perfect Your Time Management Skills
As you can see, there are numerous ways to improve your time management skills. All you need to do is take the tips you believe will work for you and practice them until you rewire your brain and create new habits.
It takes two months on average to form a new habit, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work from the get-go. In the beginning, you’ll need a lot of hard work and conscious reminders to stay on the right track. However, before you know it, you’ll do these things automatically. Moreover, you’ll enjoy stress-free work that leaves you plenty of time to rest, which will motivate you even further.