How To Improve Time Management Skills At Work

Being effective at managing your time will make you a valuable employee.  Improving your time management skills at work will help you to stay organized and productive. It will also relieve your stress and anxiety when you know you have a plan for getting things done and doing it all on time. Here are some tips for how to improve your time management skills at work.  

Create lists of tasks you must complete

First, keep a list of tasks that need to be completed. Whether the task is big or small – something that will take minutes, or something that will take hours or days – write it down.  Effective time management at work starts with knowing everything that needs to be done.  Don’t trust yourself to remember!  Even those of us with the best memories can forget an important task when we are busy at work. Create a master list of tasks you must complete using an app, a document on your computer, or just pen and paper. Whenever you are given a new task – write it down! Make one master task list that includes everything you need to do. 

Prioritize your tasks 

The next step is to give your tasks priority rankings. It’s important to distinguish between tasks that must get done today, and tasks that you have time to complete. Improving your time management skills at work means that you complete tasks before they are due, which is why you must prioritize. At the beginning of each day, look at your master task list.  Pull out the things that need to get done that day and create a smaller daily to-do list. Complete tasks in priority order. If you finish your daily list before the day is done, then you can go back to your master task list and see what else you can check off with the time you have left.  Create your daily to-do list every morning, so that you are organized and have clear expectations for the day ahead. 

Group your tasks into similar categories

Grouping tasks into similar categories can help you complete things more quickly.  For example, if you have several tasks that involve making phone calls, plan to do those at the same time.  Or if responding to emails is something on your to-do list, dedicate a block of time to getting those done, rather than answering them as they come in, which will distract you from other tasks. 

Eliminate distractions

Speaking of distractions, one of the biggest impediments to improving time management skills at work is being distracted.  To avoid this, first you need to identify what distracts you.  Then you can figure out how to eliminate it.  For example, is social media a distraction for you?  One possible solution would be to put your phone and computer in airplane mode while you work on a task.  Or use an app that prevents you from opening social media apps on your phone during work hours.  Maybe your coworkers are distraction for you. One way to deal with that is to set clear times when you will be working on individual tasks and are unavailable to your coworkers. Communicate that clearly to them so that they know when you are busy and should not disturb you. 

Budget your time 

An important time management skill to develop at work is budgeting your time.  As you go through your master task list and your daily to-do list, think about the time it will take for you to complete each task.  Schedule that time in your day. There’s no point in creating a daily to-do list with 15 activities on it if each activity is going to take over an hour and your workday is only 8 hours long! Be realistic in your expectations – how much time will each task most likely take, and when will you get it done?  It can help if you actually map out your day. Use a paper planner or something online like Google calendar. Also be sure to schedule in buffer time in between tasks, for the inevitability of tasks occasionally taking longer than expected! 

Schedule in mental and physical breaks

When thinking about how to improve time management at work, the idea of planning breaks may seem counterintuitive.  But giving yourself mental and physical breaks will help you stay on task during those times when you are being productive.  One option is to use the Pomodoro timer method, which means scheduling your productivity in 25-minute intervals, with 5-minute breaks between each interval. During those 5-minute breaks, you can get up and move around - stretch, talk to a coworker, take a walk around the office.  Or maybe just let yourself scroll social media. Whatever you chose, the scheduled breaks will help you be more focused and productive when you return to the task you are completing. 

Delegate when possible 

Finally – you don’t have to do it alone!  An often-overlooked method of improving time management skills at work is delegation!  Are there tasks that you really don’t need to do? Is someone else able to (or even better suited to!) complete one of the many tasks on your master task list?  Don’t be afraid to delegate those tasks! Sometimes people resist delegating, either because they feel like it’s admitting they can’t do it all, or because they don’t want to give up control over a certain task.  But there is nothing wrong with delegating tasks to coworkers who are able and willing to help.  And the more tasks you can eliminate from your to-do list, the better you will be at effectively managing your time at work!  

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