Words: Uma Basso
Does it seem like you never have enough time in the day to get the job done? Whether sprinting between projects and trying to keep up with the administrative tasks, you may find wondering how you got through the day without touching one task you had planned? Or perhaps it seems like it takes too much time just to get things done.
While you can’t add hours to the day, you can find more efficient ways to manage your time. Below we present five ways to help manage your time.
KNOW WHERE YOUR TIME GOES
One of the best ways to get your time under control is to know where it is being spent. With this purely observational step, keeping tabs on what you do during the day can be eye-opening.
When you track your time, you better identify the under-the-radar timewasters you may encounter throughout the day. If you are frequently interrupted by phone calls, emails, or surfing the web, these tasks quickly zap the minutes out of your day.
You can use a notebook, calendar, or even track what you do on your phone. Time tracking can help determine:
- How much time do you really have in your day to dedicate to tasks
- The time of the day are you most productive
- Are there tasks that do nothing more than just drain your time
- Which activities provide the best return.
Knowing how you spend the minutes of your day can help you streamline tasks and become more efficient in your work. Plus, it can make the other steps that you take to manage your time more effective.
PLAN AND PRIORITIZE YOUR DAY
One of the best ways to manage your time is to plan what you want to accomplish in a day. Planning also helps you guard your time – if a job or task doesn’t provide a decent return, it may not be worth taking on. A few ways to help plan your day include;
If your day is filled with putting out fires and dealing with urgent matters, you may be wondering how it is even possible to manage your time? While prioritizing tasks may seem daunting, the key is to keep in mind that not every issue carries the same importance for you.
Matters that could directly affect your goals may require a more immediate response than those which don’t. For example, if someone on your work crew calls out sick in the morning, you may need to hop on the phone to find a replacement. But for another worker asking for time off next week, you can schedule a time to find someone to take their place. Both matters are important to your employees, but they don’t necessarily carry the same level of importance when managing your time.
You can better manage your time when you determine which tasks must be handled now versus those that can wait.
When you are focused on managing time, breaks may seem counterintuitive. Yet, building a little time into your schedule to recharge can help you stay energized and on task.
Rather than having an open-ended timeframe to get this done, setting a reasonable limit to complete tasks can help you better manage time. Not only can it help you stay on task to get the job done, but you may be less susceptible to distractions.
USE SCHEDULING TOOLS
If you rely heavily on technology to get through the day, you can find plenty of solutions to help manage your time.
- Use the calendar feature on your phone or computer to schedule meetings and tasks.
- Set reminders to give you advance notice of upcoming appointments.
- Cloud-based tools can help plan your day and are easily accessible from just about any place with an internet connection.
For remote job sites where internet and cellphone access are limited, there are plenty of calendars and planners where you can schedule your day by hand.
KNOCK OUT SIMILAR TASKS AT ONE TIME
As technology continues to advance, many of us have grown accustomed to immediate response. But if you are trying to meet this expectation, it can waste valuable time.
For example, checking and responding to emails and phone calls throughout the day not only takes time but also draws your attention away from other things. If you are on the job site, this distraction may even create a safety risk for both yourself and your staff.
To help you better use your time, consider setting aside a dedicated block of time in your day to respond to emails and phone calls. This can help limit frequent interruptions, especially for those communications that can wait.
If the thought of missing an important email keeps you up at night, try to set up your inbox to alert you when client emails or other critical correspondence arrive. Not only do you receive a notification, but you may also be able to flag the email so that it doesn’t get mixed in with those that have lesser importance.
Using the out-of-office feature on your email may also be helpful. You can let clients and vendors know when they can expect to hear back from you. In an emergency, you can give them instructions as to the best way to reach you.
Administrative tasks can also drain your time. Instead of tending to these matters as they come up, give yourself a dedicated time each week or day to focus on such tasks as invoicing customers and paying bills.
You can better manage time when your workspace is organized and free from distraction. If your idea of a filing system is stacks of papers and receipts on your desk, it might be time to invest in a filing cabinet. Or consider using software to scan and digitally organize paperwork.
You may also consider how to organize your tasks best. In some cases, you may manage tasks based on when they come in. Other times, it may make more sense to schedule them based on difficulty. If you tend to work better in the morning, you may complete a more challenging task more efficiently earlier in the day than later in the afternoon.
WHAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE?
Effective time management can improve job efficiency and your bottom line. Keeping tabs on what you do during the day can help you stay on task and get more done.