Time management is essential to being productive during the workday.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to get distracted by the people and events surrounding you. That’s not even getting into the various distractions you’ll find online… have you ever fallen down a Wikipedia hole at work while trying to look something up?
Even if you’re usually pretty productive, there are still likely a few ways that you can better manage your time while you’re on the clock. Sometimes, improving your time management skills is just a matter of becoming more aware of how you spend your time during the workday.
In other cases, it may involve cutting back on distractions or rearranging your tasks into a more efficient order. Regardless of what specifically is eating up your time at work, here are a few ways that you can get your time usage under control.
Make a To-Do List
At the start of your day, write down what all you need to accomplish before you go home.
Ideally, this will involve actually writing the items down on a physical list… you’ll see why in a minute. As each item is completed, pick up a pen or pencil and mark through the item on your list.
Though it may seem like a little thing, the act of marking off items that you’ve completed can actually give you a small psychological boost that will motivate you to complete the rest of your list.
Organize Your Space
They say that a cluttered desk is a sign of a brilliant mind, but it certainly doesn’t help you to make the best use of your time.
Spend a few minutes at the beginning and end of each day getting things organized to make sure that you can find what you need easily. Checking your organization twice a day will make cleanup times go quickly, and will also straighten up any messes that get made during the day or by others after you leave.
Prioritize Your Work
Most of the time, doing things in the order in which they arrive on your desk isn’t the most efficient way to get things done.
Pull out your list of projects and make notes of which ones are the most important. Work through the list from most important to least, ensuring that all of your must-finish tasks get done first.
You might think that multitasking is the way to go, working on multiple tasks at once so that they all get finished sooner.
Unfortunately, studies suggest that multitasking actually makes you worse at getting things done on time. Instead of jumping from one task to another, sit down with each task and work on it until you either reach a good stopping place or are finished entirely.
Set a Timer
A small timer set in 15-to-25-minute increments can do wonders to keep you on task so you can manage your time more effectively.
Set the timer before you begin a specific task, then do your best to work only on that task until the timer goes off. If you finish what you’re working on with time left on the timer, take a minute or two and then reset the timer and start on your next task.
Avoid Social Media
Social media can be a real time sink, so do your best to avoid it while you’re on the clock.
If your job function requires you to make social media posts on behalf of your company, schedule as many of them as possible so you don’t have to be on Facebook or other sites off and on throughout the day.
You can set aside a block of time in the morning and write up most if not all of the day’s posts all at once this way.
To get the most out of their time, some people try to cram in as much activity as possible during the work day.
This is a good way to burn out, however. Short five-minute breaks spread throughout the day do wonders to keep you engaged and alert. A couple of longer breaks at key moments can really help you recharge as well.
Change Your Mindset
It’s easy to think about the things that you need to do and how you don’t have time to get everything done.
Try turning that line of thought around, though. Instead of focusing on the negative, consider what all you can get done in that same period of time. Focus on the most important tasks that you know you can accomplish in the time you have available, and once you’re finished try tackling a few other things in the time that remains.
Not only will you likely get more accomplished than you first thought, but your improved attitude may spread to some of your coworkers as well.