As a manager, you often handle scheduling conflicts, poorly defined objectives, and creeping project scope, leading to burnout. Also, inadequate team communication can slow things down. Challenges like these can send you searching for solutions to make the most of your work hours.
If you are a project manager looking for a solution to this persistent problem, you’ve come to the right place.
This blog draws light on the power of time management and reveals the top time management strategies that can help you manage projects and meet deadlines without putting in those extra hours and disturbing your work-life balance.
What Is Time Management?
Time management refers to effectively utilizing the available time to plan projects and achieve specific tasks and activities. The practice aims to achieve maximum productivity with minimum wastage of effort and resources.
Think about it. You only have 24 hours in a day. While the hours may look excessive, if you write off the time you require to perform essential activities such as sleeping, eating, traveling to work, and more, the time you have in hand to complete work will come down to about seven to eight hours. So, the battle is to complete your work within this definite time.
Here, time management helps save the day. When done right, you’ll not only be able to achieve work on time but will also be able to get more work done in less time.
Why Is Time Management Important?
Did you know that over 34% of professionals waste between 2-5 hours per week on pointless, unproductive calls or meetings? This is precisely why you need to work smarter (and not harder) to make the most of your time at work.
Here are some proven benefits of managing your time the right way. Here we go!
1. Better Focus
Being a manager, you’re often looped into email threads or called into urgent meetings from other departments to discuss strategy and action plans. With this, your individual work goes for a toss. Also, due to these distractions, you may have to postpone some critical tasks, delaying projects by days and weeks. A good time management strategy ensures that you plan your schedule and direct your best efforts to work as intended.
2. Higher Productivity
Eliminate regrets at the end of your day, thinking about how you could have put in more effort. Instead, close the day while feeling happier and content by effectively managing time and delivering work as expected. Time management is a sure-shot way to be in control of your workflow. Delegating time for different tasks during the day will help you be more productive at work. Set tasks and aspire to achieve them in the predefined time.
3. Less Stress
The inability to deliver quality content within the set timeline is one of the key factors contributing to daily stress at work. One poor-quality task can have rippling effects on other lined-up tasks, pushing you into a black hole of sub-quality output. Time management helps you manage your work hours, prioritize critical tasks, and stay focused on the work that matters. This prevents tasks from piling up and thereby reduces stress.
4. Reduces Procrastination
The right time management strategies help you organize and prioritize tasks to accomplish goals on time. It simplifies how you execute your projects and speeds up every task and activity you commence. Thus, managing time effectively helps you commit and take on tasks proactively, avoiding procrastination at any stage.
5. Improved Performance
While juggling multiple tasks simultaneously, you may end up compromising your performance. With effective time management strategies, you can deliver more work than expected while putting in less effort to achieve the same amount of work.
15 Time Management Tips to Increase Productivity
Implementing time management tips at work is your recipe for consistency and success.
Let’s uncover 15 effective time management techniques to help you manage your time and make the most of your work hours.
1. Always Have a Time Management Action Plan in Place
Executing a project without knowing what needs to be done and when leads to failure.
Creating a time management action plan would be best, no matter how easy or difficult a project is. Right from when you take on a project, it is essential for you to:
- First, understand what your client wants as a result
- Second, discuss the requirement at hand with your team members
- Last, create a detailed plan that defines who has to work on what and deliver it by when.
This time management roadmap ensures that you streamline project activities to attain the set business objectives with a robust strategy in place.
ProProfs Project is a reliable tool that helps you quickly set up crystal-clear project dashboards. So you can create a task, add its users, due dates, tags, and percentage of progress within seconds.
This is how a task appears within the dashboard:
2. Delegate Tasks & Keep Everyone on the Same Page
Once you create a plan, it is essential to clearly define everyone’s role in completing the project on time. Every team member must know what they need to do and by when so they can meet deadlines effortlessly.
For this, task delegation is essential. You must delegate tasks to the relevant team members and always specify the following:
- Due date
- Task requirements
- Level of priority
- Any other additional requirements using task comments
Categorize tasks based on priority and delegate them accordingly. Always ensure you assign tasks keeping a team member’s skill set and pace in mind. Do not overburden a team member with work. At the same time, ensure that the team member can efficiently complete the assigned task. If not, provide adequate training to upskill them to perform the task effectively.
3. Create & Maintain a To-Do List
Next tip on ‘how to manage your time’ is creating the good old to-do list.
Maintaining a to-do list may seem very basic, but it is the best way to ensure you don’t miss out on any essential aspect of a project during the implementation process.
The ideal time to create this to-do list is when you have a clear idea of the project and how you intend to execute it. A to-do list must cover:
- Categories of components of the project
- Blueprint of how you’ll implement these categories
- A clear plan of who will implement what
Note that creating a plan and a to-do list is different. A plan is a more elaborative “to-do” list. Whatever is stated in your to-do list is explained in detail in your project plan. So, the best way to manage time effectively is to create a to-do list and a plan around these elements.
4. Stay Focused & Meet Daily Deadlines
There can be a million reasons for losing focus in your workplace. There could be a personal emergency or an annoying colleague who doesn’t let you work peacefully.
But, no matter how distracted you get, you must maintain focus. Make sure you have a work calendar that gives you a clear picture of your daily work commitments.
5. Automate as Much as You Can
Automation is increasingly being adopted by businesses worldwide. No wonder then that 73% of organizations worldwide are now using automation technologies!
Automation is here to stay. Will it take over your work too? Certainly not. But it will take away the repetitive and time-consuming tasks. These tasks may be creating recurring tasks, scheduling appointments, sorting mail, extracting project reports, and generating invoices. These tasks are only a few of the many things that you can automate and significantly save time. By automating these tasks, you can direct your attention to high-level tasks and achieve milestones faster.
6. Spend Your Time Right
How many times a day do you pick up your phone and end up scrolling for the next half an hour? Guilty? Well, we all are.
Try limiting activities not related to work. The key is to know where you invest your working hours. Be aware that when indulging in activities apart from work, you’re pushing your work hours beyond the standard work hours.
If you get a call, pick up the phone but don’t start scrolling through it. Just attend the call or leave a message and get right back to work.
Start by tracking each hour at work. At the end of each hour, determine the number and quality of tasks you managed to accomplish. Now, analyze and decide whether you can exceed your expectations regarding quality and speed. This will help you optimize performance for the next hour.
7. Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize!
The next tip for ‘how to manage time at work’ is task prioritization.
Setting task priorities is one of the most relevant strategies for time management. Prioritization of daily tasks is essential to organize your daily, weekly, and monthly work. A well-organized work schedule promises greater efficiency and timely completion.
Working with a prioritized list of tasks and activities will clarify which task demands absolute attention first and which task can be handled later in the day. If you go ahead with just a random order of tasks, you might face urgent task requirements toward the end of the day. This might result in a sub-quality output.
To avoid last-minute work, create a priority list. Layout your tasks for the month first, then categorize which ones need prioritization for the first few days. Once you have categories, your work is halfway through. Now, take these categories and prioritize tasks within them too. And voila! You have seamlessly prioritized tasks that ensure you never have to be in chaos again at work.
8. Stop Glorifying Multitasking
While multitasking is an excellent skill that attracts praise at its very mention, it’s best not to glorify the skill when handling projects.
Why do we say that?
Because while attempting multiple tasks at once, quality is often compromised.
Multitasking lowers efficiency while focusing on merely getting things done. And simply getting things done will not guarantee the success of a task or project.
So, do away with multitasking. Start and finish each task before hopping on to the next. It will bring better clarity and help you accomplish tasks with greater zest.
9. Clear the Clutter
Is your workspace – neat, clean, and inspiring? Or is it messy, cluttered, and dreary?
If your desk space sounds more like the latter, it’s time to revamp it immediately.
When you spend 7-8 hours of your day at a desk, the desk ought to be vibrant and inviting!
Declutter your desk. Clear those pens lying aimlessly on top of the other and put them in a case. Stack those scattered files one by one. Throw away the empty snack wrappers in the bin. Keep your notepads within reach and dust off the surface.
Guess what you have? A sparkling clean desk that keeps you in the right frame of mind and inspires everyday productivity. This simple hack will automatically increase your focus at work leading to better time management.
10. Use the Mighty Time Management Tool!
Most time management tips discussed here can be implemented correctly using a reliable tool.
A good time management tool helps create tasks, assign resources, and set deadlines for all team members. You can use it to track the tasks on your plate, timelines for each task, and even monitor progress as you work towards achieving your daily goals.
Using a tool is a sure-shot way to ensure efficient time management and increased productivity and performance with each task you take up. It is also proven to reduce stress by organizing and scheduling all project tasks effectively.
11. Use a Timer
Setting a time limit for each task and activity allows you to minimize distractions while striving to complete tasks faster. Using a timer can help track efficiency and is one of the simplest time management tips at work.
To start with, identify the type of task and estimate the time required to accomplish the task. Set a realistic time limit based on your past performance.
This technique ensures increased focus and determination to realize the desired result in the quickest way possible. And yes, you can set task timers to get a mini-break after achieving each task!
Again, a tool comes in handy to set a time limit and track the actual time taken. All you have to do is click the timer icon in the Timer column.
As you start setting timers and achieving tasks, you may even find yourself completing tasks much before the timer rings!
This is how the task timer looks like in ProProfs Project.
12. Breakdown Tasks into Manageable Pieces
You must have found yourself procrastinating on a particular task or project. What do you think is the reason that you procrastinate?
We know why! Complex tasks and projects can be overwhelming and end up being picked up in the end.
One of the tried and tested tips for time management is to break your tasks down into manageable subtasks. That’s it! It’s that simple.
While working on projects, you gravitate towards taking up smaller tasks first. This is because these tasks seem easy to accomplish. So when you break down your tasks into subtasks, you can approach work in small bits, achieving the larger goal more efficiently.
Here is how you can visualize a subtask using ProProfs:
Thus, breaking tasks down into subtasks simplifies working on complex tasks and makes them easier to execute.
13. Rethink & Revisit
No one strategy works for all. If a particular approach worked amazingly for a specific project, that doesn’t mean the same approach will work for every project. Analyze and select a strategy that best suits you and your team and project.
Rethink and revisit your time management strategy. No matter how much analysis has gone into your process, there’s always room for improvement, and rightly so. As you set a plan and get to work, you encounter roadblocks and get aware of the limitations of a specific strategy.
Understand that it is okay to face such hindrances.
Don’t refrain from tweaking or even adopting a new strategy if your workflow is not complementing the project and team requirements. Take a step back and reset the strategy with a more appropriate one.
14. Leverage Ready-to-Use Templates
Creating workflows for each project from scratch can be time-consuming and challenging.
Templates offer a ready-to-deploy workflow to get started with project execution immediately. You can choose from a variety of professionally-designed templates or a custom template you created for similar projects in the past.
Using a template, you can shape workflows within seconds. Tweak workflows to edit task names, add users, and change due dates. You can adjust the workflows to suit evolving project requirements.
Simply put, getting started with a template allows you to quickly set up the project dashboard and initiate work within minutes. It helps define clear task responsibilities, ensuring effective time management right from the start.
15. Optimize Productivity While Working from Home
Contrary to the common belief that productivity levels rise while working remotely, poor time management and daily distractions decrease productivity levels in a work-from-home setup.
According to Statista, at-home distractions, collaboration, isolation, and motivation are some of the major challenges of working remotely.
For example, on some days, you wake up at 7 in the morning and finish work by 7 in the evening. On other days, you wake up at 10 in the morning and wind up working by 2 at night. If this routine continues for a long time, your overall productivity will be affected sooner or later.
Working from home can be extremely easy or challenging, depending on how well you plan and prioritize your work.
So, when you start the day, create a to-do list depending on the importance of tasks and their urgency level. Consult with your colleagues, juniors, or managers about each task’s timelines.
Accordingly, prioritize each task, plan your day, and get started. This will control chaos and infuse clarity in your work life.
A great way to plan and prioritize your work is by using online project management software. For example, ProProfs Project allows you to plan and allocate tasks and subtasks, prioritize work, set due dates, and track progress – all on a single dashboard.
Adopt Smart Time Management Tips for Effortless Time Management
“Either you run the day or the day runs you.”
How you achieve your goals relies a lot on your ability to implement effective time management strategies. The strategy you select should take into account the type of project, availability of resources, and their skillset. When you combine all this with result-oriented time management tips, you can get things on track, up and running.
With easy organization, task prioritization, and proven tips, meeting deadlines will be a cakewalk. Also, adopting a solid time management tool further eases timely task accomplishment. Remember, the more you plan your tasks, the better you will get at managing multiple projects at the same time.
Q. What are the signs of poor time management?
- Missed deadlines
- Poor performance
- Rushing and impatience
- Poorly defined action items and goals
- Poor punctuality
- Delayed projects
Q. How can I learn time management fast?
Start with the basics such as keeping to-do lists and completing the tasks in a prioritized manner. Set an amount of time for a task and complete it during that time. Block your time for the task at hand. Avoid multitasking and go for delegation or outsourcing when needed.
Q. What are the basic principles of time management?
The most notable principles of time management are:
- Using automation for task allotment, tracking, and management
- Prioritizing the daily tasks
- Cultivating discipline
- Time blocking
- Grouping the similar tasks in a batch
- Staying organized
- Keep the mornings for the most important tasks
- Avoiding multitasking to avoid losing focus
Q. What is the 80-20 rule in time management?
Also called the Pareto principle, the 80-20 rule states that 20% of your activities account for 80% of the future results. Thus, the rule implies planning your goals and activities effectively to execute projects in the best possible way.
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