by Robert Clough
Do you suffer from a chronic case of work whiplash? That's when your days pass by so quickly that they give you a headache.
You want to be more productive, but you're always stuck catching up on emails or squeaking past deadlines. Your team is great, but it's just not hitting its goals regularly.
If you're looking for a promotion or just trying to improve time management skills, this article's for you. We'll give you some pro tips about productivity and help you develop a new outlook on your workday.
1. Slay the Dragon First
If you're wondering how to improve time management, the first thing you should know is that you have to slay the dragon. That means you should tackle your biggest project first, as early in your workday as possible.
That being said, it's important to break that project down into manageable pieces. Have to make some phone calls? Get started early.
If you're not productive in the morning, you can schedule your important tasks for the afternoon. Just make sure that you block out enough time to finish.
2. Take a Mini-Break
Every year, procrastinating workers cost American businesses more than $500 billion in lost productivity. If your break time is cutting into your work time, it's time to make a change.
You don't have to chain yourself to your desk, but try to focus for at least 45 minutes at a time. After that, stand up and walk around for a few minutes to clear your mind.
If it's hard for you to sit for extended periods of time, you might want to look into a standing desk for greater mobility.
3. Automate Admin Tasks
One of the newest and most useful time management skills is automation. If you find yourself spending hours on employee scheduling and payroll, you might want to try a software solution like Time Clock Wizard.
Time management is all about freeing up your schedule. If you had five extra hours per week, what could you accomplish?
In this digital era, there's no time to waste dealing with paper. Find digital time tracking and scheduling solutions and watch your productivity bloom.
4. Delegate Whenever Possible
If you're an entrepreneur, you're probably used to doing most of the work by yourself. When it's time for expansion, however, you're going to have to rely more on your team.
The great thing is that you can outsource tasks like IT and accounting. You don't have to hire a full-timer and you know that you've got a well-trained professional on your side.
If it's hard for you to delegate to your in-house team, try to practice handing out less urgent tasks. As your team earns your trust, you can ramp up their participation.
5. Cut Back on Meetings
If you're searching for better time management skills, you might be surprised at this next tip. Cut back on meetings as much as you can.
We don't mean that you should skip important team conferences, but check out how much time you're spending in meetings.
Can any of those meetings happen through a group email? Can you make a team phone call and get your goals met?
6. Set Realistic Deadlines
People with good time management skills are able to set realistic deadlines. If you have a major project due in a month, for example, you can work backwards to see what you should accomplish each week.
If you're just getting started with your business, make sure that you're taking time for marketing and customer outreach every week. Just an hour per week can help kick your business into gear.
Don't overwhelm yourself with blogging or video creation: just set a realistic goal of one blog or video per week.
7. Block out Time for Email
So you're focused on improving time management but wondering how to deal with your backlog of emails?
Depending on when you're most productive, schedule at least one hour per day to respond to emails and make phone calls. Put your schedule onto your voicemail so that your clients know when to expect your return calls.
Again, if you need to delegate, find a team member who can make non-essential phone calls for you.
8. Focus on Work/Life Balance
Ultimately, you're looking for a good work/life balance. Some people may thrive on fast-paced, 50-hour weeks, but it's okay to take time for yourself.
If you're an entrepreneur working crazy hours, just do a personal audit. Are you happy? Is your business becoming more important than your personal life?
Some of us get so caught up in our workdays that we forget to eat, drink water, and stretch. You'll never feel truly balanced at work unless you're taking good care of yourself.
9. Consider Remote Work Options
If you think about it, we spend a lot of our work lives commuting. If you have a 30-minute commute every day, that's five hours per week.
That may not seem like a lot of time, but it adds up to 250 hours per year that you could be putting into other projects. That's more than four full workweeks!
As you audit your time and look for ways to be more effective at work, consider taking one day per week to work from home.
How to Improve Time Management Quickly
While it may take a few weeks to improve time management skills, there are a few ways to ramp up your efficiency.
First, take a quality audit of your work life. Do you meet your goals easily, or do you scramble to complete projects at the last minute?
Then, talk to your supervisors or team members. Do they have any suggestions for ways that you can be more productive?
Finally, make a list of everything you need to do at work. What small steps can you take today to make your next project a success?
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