Here are some time management tips you can use to help you get productive and stay balanced at work as well as outside the office.
Use whichever tips resonate with you. There should be something here you can put into action straight away. You might also find it useful to come back to these tips at a later date and see what else you can do to boost your time management skills.
1. We often talk about not having enough time. Rather than focusing on that, and complaining to yourself or others about not enough time, think about what you do have enough time for. Start talking or thinking about that instead.
2. Start within five minutes of sitting down at your desk and switching on your computer. Half an hour or an hour wasted here on procrastination or distractions is costly.
3. Value your time and other people will do the same.
4. When things get really pressurised and you’re tight for time, ignore email completely.
5. We’re all equal when it comes to time.
6. Get into the habit of switching off email whenever you can, even if this is only for 15 minutes or 30 minutes at a time.
7. Use your time for the things that are worth it.
8. If you’re procrastinating, rather than getting frustrated or annoyed, simply ask yourself why you are procrastinating. Are you scared of the task ahead? Is it too difficult, too easy, or boring? Are you tired? We can waste a lot of energy and time on the things we’re putting off. (Here’s more advice on this in my piece on 10 productivity tips for procrastinators.)
9. End your working day at a fixed time. Don’t let work creep to fill your entire evening. You can also have two finishing times. One for an ideal day, and one latest time that you won’t work past.
11. If you’re using social media for business, schedule some of your updates. You don’t have to be there all of the time.
12. Do a time audit for one week and look at exactly where your time is going. Notice where you spend your time on a regular week day. Notice how you use time at a weekend.
13. Taking the results of your time audit, think about where you might want to redistribute a little of your time. What could do with a little more time spent on it? What are you spending time on that you don’t really enjoy or value? When are the main points in the day you waste time?
14. What, to you, constitutes time well spent? Write a list of five things.
15. Look at your list (from point 14 above). How often have you done these things in a) the past month? b) the past year?
16. Who drains your time?
17. What drains your time? What drains your energy?
18. Limit the things that drain your time and energy. Then, with the time you do have you’ll get more done in a focused, energised way. For more productivity advice, read my piece on 30 one-minute productivity tips.
19. You can actually get an awful lot done in half an hour. Don’t just float because you’ve only got half an hour until your next meeting or appointment.
20. We all need down time.
21. Take mini breaks when you need them during the day to recharge and refocus.
22. Take lengthy breaks away from work at the weekend, in the evening and on holiday to help you stay productive long term.
23. Identify anything causing a regular, repeated drag or drain on your time. These might include technology, systems, workflow or people, for example. One by one, take these things and fix them, address them, or change them to free up more time.
24. If you’re doing a task where you’re likely to get distracted and spend longer than you want to there (for example, on social media, email, or internet searching), take off your watch and put it on the desk, noting what time you started and how long you intend to spend there. Check back in regularly on time passing.
25. We regularly underestimate how long something will take us. Factor this in!
26. Do you like the pressure of working to tight deadlines or not? For example, do you only feel motivated to get started on a project the night before it’s due in, or do you prefer to leave yourself plenty of time? Either way is fine, but know which method works for you and use it to your advantage. Either set yourself more deadlines, or make sure you leave time to plan and deliver well in advance.
27. Check in with the cycles of nature now and again. See how you are feeling in relation to sunrise and sunset, or to the changing of the seasons. We often get caught up in our own perception of time, but there is a bigger natural cycle going on too.
28. Are you trying to force things to happen in a certain time frame? Could you let it go and let things happen in their own time instead?
29. Could you spend time as an alternative to spending money at some point this week?
30. Anything that marks the end of one year or the start of a new year is a good time to look back at how you’ve spent your time in the year just gone. Looking at this, how do you want to spend your time in the year ahead? Will you spend it in the same way, or make some changes?