5 Tips to Master the Art of Managing Your Time to Work Smarter, Not Harder

The world we live in today is marked by speed, and it’s impossible for us as individuals to say if this swift way of life, created in the name of progress and development, is, in effect, a good or a bad thing. This is just the way things are. Time is precious, which means you must be strategic about how you spend your days to manage your workload when everything piles up at the same time. Without time management, every second feels like a battle.

Meetings stack up, you get bombarded with tons of notifications, and social media is affecting your productivity. Strong time management skills don’t come naturally, yet they’re essential for staying on track, meeting deadlines, and achieving your goals, so whatever your industry or role, organizing and planning how to divide your time between different activities and priorities matters. Time management is indeed an art. Here are some principles to help you excel and become a success.

1. Create And Stick to A Schedule to Have a Predictable Day

Time slips through your fingers like sand, never to return again. If you use your time wisely from the very get-go, you’ll be rewarded with a rich, productive, and satisfying day, so create a schedule to manage tasks and keep things in a clear perspective. Think about your to-dos, set deadlines, and estimate time limits for each, blocking out time for high-priority activities and protecting that time from disruptions. Whether you’re working at a fast-paced company or running errands all day long  like mobile phone screen replacement, schedule your time effectively.

2. See If You’re Spending Your Time Right

If you feel there are never enough hours in the day and your schedule is continually growing, maximize your time to work smarter, not harder. Poor time management results in money thrown out the window. Track exactly how you spend your time – it doesn’t have to be high-tech, so use something like Timesheet Portal – to uncover valuable insights that will help you improve productivity and reduce stress, even if the process of remembering things is strenuous.

A timesheet lets you record your working hours with a simple push of a button, so you’ll know without a doubt how much time you’ve spent on a particular project (or for a specific client). The element of transparency brought by completing the timesheet serves as proof of your effort level and progress. Some hours are likely to be “wasted,” but be careful about how you choose to slack off, such as having a coffee chat or watching a TED talk.

3. Keep Distractions and Interruptions to A Minimum

If you fall into the social media rabbit hole, even if you’d prefer to be doing just about anything else, give your dopamine system a chance to reset – no screen time for at least one hour. Tempting as it may be to unlock your smartphone, don’t. Distractions may come from anywhere, so create your own productivity bubble by finding a quiet place to work, using noise-canceling headphones, and turning off notifications. Checking emails and Slack will consume your day if you let it.

By keeping an interruptions log, you’ll get a very clear picture of the interrupters that make you feel conflicted and time-pressured. You can then seek patterns and decide how to deal with these issues. Note down the person who interrupted you, the date and time when it happened, what it was about, and whether the interruption was valid. Once you’ve completed your analysis, reduce and remove as many interruptions as possible and turn to more leisurely, productive work.

4. Avoid Switching Between Tasks to Get Things Done

You’ll become calmer and more relaxed knowing the most important and urgent task is done, even if you didn’t cross off those small to-dos. Multitasking won’t make you more productive, it’s often an illusion, so don’t try to do multiple things at once as it can decrease efficiency and make you prone to errors, not to mention it can take extra time to shift mental gears. If you yearn to read more, listen to podcasts or audiobooks while cooking, exercising, or commuting to work.

Mental juggling slashes productivity, which is why you must get out of the bad habit of multitasking. Do your online shopping from another place (e.g., your home), and when you’re at your desk work – you can use a standing desk if you like to stretch your back a few times a day. Saying no, like delegating, empowers you to be the master of your own time, which in turn allows you to boost your productivity at work. Simply dumping work onto someone else’s plate won’t work, so be crystal clear about the what and when of every task.

5. Take Regular Breaks During the Day

Trying to focus from 9am until lunchtime doesn’t really work, so give yourself a 5–10-minute break every now and then. Structured pauses increase job satisfaction as they blend in nicely with your attention span, so you can zone the world out, diving deep into the task at hand, and the results are nothing short of magical. If you’re able to take more time, that’s even better. Anything you do on a screen forces you to take in more information, meaning that watching YouTube can feel like a break, yet it’s actually demanding on the brain.

The Takeaway

If you want to be as productive as possible without burning out, incorporate some or all of the strategies discussed earlier so you can manage your time more effectively. It’s called “working smarter, not harder.” Take the road less traveled and find effective methods for addressing your needs, even if they don’t fit typical advice, to take back your work day and renew your motivation and energy. As you’ve been able to see, there are ways to reclaim those elusive hours, so manage your time (instead of letting it manage you).

Time management is a skill to be mastered and an art to be enjoyed. Your skills will improve daily if you train yourself to get better at it, so address the challenges to achieve greater productivity and efficiency.

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  • About the Curator

    Abelino Silva. Seeker of the truth. Purveyor of facts. Mongrel to the deceitful. All that, and mostly a blogger who enjoys acknowledging others that publish great content. Say hello 🙂

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