8 time management skills that will improve your work life

If you constantly feel as though you’re drowning at work or that your personal life is suffering, it may be time to evaluate your time management skills. If you’re regularly skipping lunch, staying late at work or turning down social activities because you simply don’t have time, these are warning signs that you need to take action. So what can you do about it?

  1. Set goals. By setting goals you will focus on the bigger picture rather than the day to day. Where do you see yourself in six months or five years? How is what you’re doing now building towards that? If there are aspects of your work or personal life that are getting in the way of your goals it may be time to make some changes.
  2. Have fixed priorities. There are tasks that are fun and others that are not. You may experience the temptation to focus on the more enjoyable aspects of your job first and then struggle to knuckle down to the tedious tasks. Or perhaps you’re missing deadlines because you’re doing things in the wrong order. Keep a list of jobs you need to complete and when they need to be completed by. Then work through them systematically, ticking them off as you go. If you have several deadlines close together, work on the quick wins first so they’re out the way and you can focus on more challenging tasks.
  3. Use your calendar. If you know you have to make a call on a certain day or have a string of meetings coming up, schedule these into your calendar so that you don’t forget or feel unprepared when the day arrives. Having a clear idea of what is coming up will help you prioritise around these events.
  4. Take one step at a time. We all think we are master multitaskers, but the truth is your brain can only deal with one task at a time. Trying to do too many things at once will actually make you more efficient. So put down the smartphone, stop checking your emails every two minutes and focus on the task in hand where possible. That way each job will get done more quickly and to a higher standard.
  5. Cut out the distractions. Don’t leave messenger chats open so that people can pop up at any point and set fixed times for checking emails. In extreme circumstances you might even need to divert calls to answerphone or work in a quiet zone such as a home office or library. Every time you are distracted your mind wanders away from your current task, which may cause you to lose your flow and even forget what you were doing in the first place.
  6. Beat procrastination. Sometimes when we feel overwhelmed it’s easier just to ignore everything and find something else to do, like cleaning the house, calling a friend or walking the dog. However, this will simply delay the inevitable and add to stress levels. Choose what to work on first and think about how you will achieve it. Then make a start. If you’re struggling, take a short break but get right back to it afterwards. The sooner you start completing tasks the easier it will be to combat procrastination.
  7. Take regular breaks. This sounds counterintuitive, but if you’re eating lunch at your desk while you work, working at home until you go to bed and missing out on all daytime hours and exercise you will eventually burn out. Try to take a 15-minute break in the morning and afternoon, at least 30 minutes for lunch and stop work at least an hour before bed. Keep most evenings and weekends free for rest, leisure activities and socialising. Taking regular breaks will help you feel more refreshed and productive when you get back to work.
  8. Delegate tasks. There will be times when you simply need to say no to tasks that aren’t in your remit or that you simply can’t fit in. Other times it may help to delegate the work to a colleague you trust. You may feel as though you’re passing the buck, but your colleague might have less to do and actually be grateful for the extra challenge. Just make sure you don’t keep all the fun tasks to yourself and delegate the boring ones. Your colleagues will soon notice and will start saying no themselves.


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Joy Tibbs is a freelance writer and editor who regularly contributes to Premier. Find out more at joyofediting.co.uk and find her on Twitter @joyous25

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