effective time management

Work smarter, not harder: 8 ways to master the art of time management

Practising effective time management leads to higher productivity, better results, and less stress.

It’s another Monday morning. You wake up hopeful, thinking not only you will meet all the deadlines but you will work out and cook a healthy meal too. But things don’t always go as planned. The clock has already struck 9, and by the time you start working on your assignments, you realise you have back-to-back meetings scheduled until noon. Your enthusiasm withers and you are left wondering what you could have done to handle things better. The only solution to your conundrum is time management.

Effective time management is the optimal coordination and planning of tasks that enable an individual to deliver maximum output and efficiency. In simpler words, it means doing more and better work in less time. Practising effective time management can yield positive results in your life, especially on the work front. It leads to higher productivity, better results, less stress, and can also improve your work-life balance. On the other hand, poor time management can lead to low productivity, piled-up tasks, burn-out, greater stress levels, and frustration. So, if you want to work smarter and get things more done in less time, here are a few tips for smart time management.

Use a time-tracker

A time-tracker is an effective time management tool that can help you stay organised and efficient. You will be able to get more things done and learn how you spend your time at work. When you know which tasks take the most time, you can begin to reflect on whether or not that time is well spent. The insight you get from these tools can be an eye-opener. Scrolling your social media feed or mindlessly browsing the internet are some of the most time-consuming daily activities. You can set up a reminder to avoid spending excessive hours on the internet.

Start your day early

You only have 24 hours in a day, so you should try to make the best use of them. You can try waking up a bit earlier and make your day longer. Start with setting up the alarm 30 minutes earlier than usual. This additional time can be used for activities like meditation, exercise, gardening, or on side projects. These activities will also help you feel better both mentally and physically and start the tone for your day. When you create a dedicated slot for activities outside of the workplace, it helps manage your time efficiently.

Set time limits for each task

Setting a time limit for each task stops you from procrastinating. For instance, if you have to finish an assignment, set a realistic deadline under which you finish it. Once you have spent the designated amount of time on that task, move on to the next important activity. Soon, you will find your productivity skyrocketing and your to-do list shrinking because of this simple yet effective strategy.

Tackle the most important tasks in the first half

Another valuable time-management tip is to finish the important tasks in the first half of your day. While creating your to-do list, sort the tasks based on their importance. Identify the tasks that need immediate attention and dedicate your time to finish them on time. By organising your to-do list based on the importance of the tasks rather than urgency, you can invest your time and efforts into focusing on activities that support your business goals. Remember that urgent activities may not always be necessarily important.

Get rid of distractions

From social media to smartphones and gossiping, we are faced with limitless distractions every day. A study by Basex found that office distractions take up 2.1 hours of the average day. Part of managing your time effectively is being proactive about getting rid of these distractions. Close all the tabs, except for the ones you are working on. Turn of social media notifications. Attend your personal calls after finishing your work shift. Identify what distracts you the most and take appropriate measures to eliminate them. Doing so can help increase your focus and boost productivity.

Reset your brain with regular breaks

Smart time management is not always about doing something, it is also about finding the time to relax and rest your mind and body. When you are preparing your schedule for the day, make sure to include breaks in it. Breaks give you the time to recharge so that you can focus more on the task at hand when you return to work. Take a walk, do some quick stretches, meditate, or listen to music. Most importantly, don’t skip your lunch breaks. According to a survey, taking a lunch break, particularly with takeout, has positive effects on employee happiness, engagement and productivity.

Avoid multitasking

Most of the time, people resort to multitasking to finish their work quickly, but it makes you even more unproductive. You not only lose your time but also your focus. You may feel like you are getting more done, but in reality, you aren’t. Multitasking actually reduces your efficiency and performance. In his book, David Crenshaw, author of the book The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done writes, “When most people refer to multitasking, they are really talking about switch tasking. No matter how they do it, switching rapidly between two things is just not very efficient or effective.”

Commit to your plan

It is one thing to create a schedule and another to follow it. If you want to learn how to manage your time at work, commit to your plan. Follow your to-do list religiously. Doing so can help you keep track of things. You will be able to avoid distractions easily and go about your business without any trouble. When you want your project to succeed, you have to invest yourself fully. Getting involved isn’t enough, you have to be fully committed.


How can starting your day early contribute to mastering the art of time management?

Starting your day early gives you a head start and allows you to utilize the quiet morning hours for focused work.

Why is it recommended to tackle the most important tasks in the first half of the day for effective time management?

The first half of the day is usually when you’re the most alert and motivated. By addressing important tasks during this time, you ensure that your top priorities are accomplished while you’re at your best, leaving the latter part of the day for less demanding tasks.

How does getting rid of distractions play a role in mastering time management?

Distractions, such as notifications and unrelated tasks, can interrupt your workflow and lead to time wastage. Minimizing distractions helps you stay on track and complete tasks more efficiently.


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