Improve Your Time Management Skills in 2016

Tuesday December 15th, 2015

Estimated time to read: 3 minutes

Imagine this...You start your day full of optimism, ready to check things off your to-do list. However, half way through the day you begin to feel stressed and overloaded. The checklist that didn’t seem too bad this morning suddenly seems impossible to accomplish.

Sound familiar? You aren’t alone. How often do you hear the phrase, “If only I had more hours in my day?” Probably more often than you can count.

People often have the misconception that time management is about finding or creating more time in your day. However, there is a better way to approach time management.

Managing time is about accomplishing the most important tasks in the most efficient amount of time.

Once you master that, you will realize that it is much easier to accomplish everything on your to-do list and still have time to do the things you enjoy.

Read on to learn how you can do just that and make 2016 a year of accomplishments and efficiency.

Get organized

Organization is the key to mastering time management. On average, 27 percent of office workers say that they feel disorganized at work. Of that 27 percent who feel disorganized, 91 percent said they would work more efficiently if their workspace was better organized.

Get your space organized in a way that works for you. Find a place for everything and make sure that you keep items there when not in use. This eliminates time you might spend trying to find lost items.

Americans waste more than [9 million hours](link no longer available) every day looking for lost and misplaced articles, according to the American Demographic Society. Don’t be part of that statistic. Keep your space clean and organized.

Know the difference between urgency and importance

There is a difference between urgent and important. In order to manage your time effectively, you need to be able to distinguish the difference and act accordingly.

Urgent task

An urgent task is one that requires your immediate action. However, the task may not be important.

For instance, answering the phone is an urgent task. If you don’t answer right away, you will miss the call. However, that call could be a telemarketer trying to sell you something you don’t need. Answering the phone has then proven not to be important and has then wasted your time.

Important task

Important tasks are those that matter ‒ they help you to achieve goals and objectives. Not completing them could result in serious consequences. Tasks that are important need to be prioritized.

Yet, not all important tasks are urgent. For example, communication is important. Therefore, meeting together to discuss progress, developments, accomplishments and problems is important. These meetings aren’t necessarily urgent.

Keep in mind that important tasks that are delayed too long may become urgent.

Prioritize your tasks

At the start of each day look at your to-do list and make sure that you organize your tasks.

Carefully evaluate and prioritize your tasks into three categories.

  1. Urgent and important ‒ these tasks need to be completed immediately. Make sure that they are at the top of your to-do list.
  2. Important, but not urgent ‒ these tasks should be worked on once your urgent and important tasks are completed.
  3. Urgent, but not important ‒ once all of your important tasks are done and you still have time, you can focus on these tasks.

If a task is neither important nor urgent, don’t do it. These tasks are a waste of time and putting energy into them will cause you to feel overworked and stressed.

Avoid distractions

It is easy to get distracted by email and social media. Don’t let that happen.

Instead of reading and replying to every email as it comes in, set certain times of the day that you will check and respond to emails. By doing this you can avoid being distracted by unimportant emails (such as an E-vite to the office party). When you only check email at certain points in the day, you will be able to take a quick glance over everything and prioritize which emails require the most attention and a response.

The same is true for social media. Don’t let social media notifications interrupt and distract you. Turn those notifications off and only check your platforms during your breaks.

Do NOT multi-task

Multi-tasking may seem like a good idea. It’s nice to think that you can accomplish more than one thing at a time. However, most people are not good at multi-tasking.

Our brains take time to refocus once the focus has shifted. For this reason, if you are switching between tasks, your brain will need to pause and regroup each time you switch focus. The time your brain takes to refocus is time wasted. Staying focused on one task until it is completed before moving on to another task is the most efficient use of your time.

Enjoy your newfound productivity and reduced stress

Once you understand how managing time works and you put these actions into practice, you will find that your productivity increases while your stress decreases.

Like developing any new skill or behavior, improving your time management skills will take time and require your commitment. However, with dedication and perseverance, you can be a master of your time. Don’t let time run away from you again.

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