9 time management tips for professionals
Sometimes it can feel as though you spend your day running around non stop, yet on reflection it doesn't seem that much has been accomplished
This can leave you feeling frustrated and demotivated, which is why time management is a real asset for professionals who find themselves carrying out a wide variety of tasks during a single day. It's not something everyone is able to pick up instantly, so below are some time management tips which should help you to increase your productivity.
The first step to effective time management is to track daily activities and build an accurate picture of where you spend your time. Think about what you do during your day that could inhibit progress on work - jumping between one project and another or dipping in and out of your emails are prime examples.
The focus of time management is to change your daily behaviour so you can complete tasks more efficiently. Find out what your personal time wasters are (surfing the net, taking personal calls or social networking, for example) and set small goals to begin with, such as cutting out one of these per week, or give yourself limited time slots to spend doing such activities (such as a defined lunch hour).
Whether you use a software program or an app, time management tools are very useful for easily scheduling tasks. To do lists, timers and social media management tools can help manage your workload effectively - read our article on 5 time management apps for professionals for more ideas.
You should begin each working day with a list of tasks in order of priority. If you have, for example, 10 tasks for that day, how many of these do you actually need to accomplish? Before you answer any emails or make any phone calls for the day, write down the urgent tasks that you absolutely have to get done that day. It provides focus and you'll feel as though you have accomplished something at the end of the day.
All businesses start small, but once you feel things are off the ground, think about hiring additional resource for tasks you aren't specialised in. Some time consuming tasks are better off being outsourced; letting others carry some of the load makes for more effective time management. There are a number of websites that allow you to hire business services such as virtual assistants, web designers and graphic designers on an ad hoc basis with no lengthy commitment, freeing up your time to focus on other aspects of your business.
Having a structured routine will ensure you are much more productive when working. Staying focused while working from home is particularly challenging for some professionals, so create a pleasant working environment, decide on structured working hours and dress professionally to help make the most of your day.
7. Time limits
Reading and responding to e-mails can take up hours of your day; limit the time you spend clearing your inbox, and try accessing it at set intervals (e.g. 9am, 1pm, 5pm). By doing this you won't get distracted by incoming and outgoing mail and can focus on the task at hand.
8. Be organised
Are you wasting time searching for various documents on your computer? Take some time to organise your files; a structured system means you can lay your hands on any file quickly.
9. No waiting around
Don't waste time between off-site meetings twiddling your thumbs. Take your tablet/laptop with you so you can complete less labour intensive tasks on the go, such as reading a report, answering emails or putting together an agenda for your next meeting.