Time management and good time management skills are necessary and handy skill in every industry. Learning how to efficiently stay on top of all your tasks and overall workload is essential to success in any role. Knowing what important tasks are and effectively manage stakeholders is key to success.

Conversely, taking on too much at once, or not knowing how to manage time effectively, can lead to stress, anxiety and reduced job performance.

So what can you do to improve your time management skills? We've put together some top tips to help you manage your time more efficiently when it comes to work.

1. Set yourself realistic goals and timeframes

Taking on too much at once or trying to finish everything in an unreasonable time frame is setting yourself up for failure from the outset. When it comes to work, it's all too common to overload ourselves with all of the tasks we need to complete each day or week. You'll be better off separating these out into bite-sized chunks that are easier to schedule and work through. Ensure that you leave your self time to focus on urgent and important tasks, challenging tasks.

Rather than feeling defeated when you aren't able to complete your mammoth to-do list, set yourself achievable goals that you can tick off over the course of the day, the week or the month. Also look for ways of problem solving, delegate tasks, actively looks at ways to better improve your project management and upskill in core time management skills.

Remember, it's important to recognise how long it will take you to complete a task to the best possible standard, so that you are managing expectations across your team and the wider business. Be sure to set realistic timeframes and communicate updates with the relevant colleagues.

2. Write (and stick to) to-do-lists

Leaving your to-do list to memory makes it highly likely that you will forget something crucial or, inadvertently take on more than you can handle without realising.

Writing lists or using a time management app, such as Trello or Toggl, will give you a clear overview of your workload and agenda. Depending on what works best for you, this could be:

  • A task list outlining your most pressing tasks and each of its deadlines
  • A weekly breakdown of what needs to be completed
  • A daily to-do list detailing your tasks for the day

3. Prioritise your tasks

Prioritising your work helps to ensure your most pressing tasks are delivered on time, and allows you to manage the expectations of the business when you have something important that you need to clear your schedule for. A common method is to arrange tasks based on urgency and importance into one of four categories:

  • Do first: High priority or urgent tasks and responsibilities with strict, imminent deadlines
  • Schedule: Tasks that should be done soon, but immediately (or have a flexible deadline)

  • Delegate/reprioritise: Tasks that can be given to someone else, or be set aside for later on
  • Don't do: Tasks that can be dropped from the schedule altogether, or completed only when all other important and urgent tasks are finished

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4. Group tasks where possible

Trying to work on completely different tasks at the same time can lead to inefficiencies and errors. Make sure to group similar tasks together when you are planning out your working week – this will make it easier to multitask and even meet your deadlines on multiple tasks at the same time.

Think of a production line in a kitchen that will be serving a lunch for 50 people. Cooks do not prepare or assemble one dish at a time. They stick to one task or similar tasks such as peeling all the vegetables, then they will move on to chopping all the vegetables.

5. Don't rush, and take breaks

It can be easy to feel like you need to rush when you have a lot of different tasks to complete, but this will be counterproductive if you end up making mistakes, which means you'll have to redo work. Work at a steady pace so you don't miss anything and at a speed that you are able to complete the work to the best of your ability. Make sure to also give yourself short breaks during the day to refresh and recharge.

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6. Avoid distractions

When you are busy at work and have multiple tasks on the go, it's so important to make sure you aren't distracted. During busy periods, let your colleagues know that you need some time to focus so that they won't disturb you or accidentally distract you unless it's urgent.

Staying focused may be as simple as putting headphones on, putting your phone on silent and placing it out of sight or far away from you, and disabling email notifications so you can avoid your inbox for 1 hour.

Small steps like this can help you get your to-do list checked off faster and leave you feeling accomplished at the end of the day. As you start to build momentum and feel more productive, take note of what has contributed and really made an impact on your successful time management, as everyone will have a personal preference as to what works best. Know that over time you will improve time management skills, one task at a time. And never be afraid to ask for advice. Develop planning skills and ask your managers for important time management skills they use.

Looking for a new job opportunity where you can let your time management skills shine? Talk to the team at Page Personnel.

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