Time management is a skill that is vital for success in your professional life. In business, how likely is someone to pick a contract with the company that’s always running late? Poor time management often speaks volumes.
If you see people finishing tasks right before or even after deadlines, scrambling around and sacrificing work quality, you can almost guarantee there won’t be any repeat business.
Pushing back deadlines or working overtime are classic examples of poor time management, and can be costly in business. But by implementing these 10 ways to get better at managing your time, you could just save that next contract.
Write a list of big goals
If you have a big list of things you want to achieve, it has a direct effect on the amount of work you output. A big list doesn’t mean you feel swamped, it actually results in you doing more work. When you give yourself more to do, you subconsciously force yourself to achieve it.
Time is precious, especially in small businesses. So write a list of things that need to be done, and then reorder them to make sure the items that are vital or time-sensitive to be completed are at the top, and are carried out first.
Cross things off
Following on from the above point – when you’ve prioritised and completed each task, cross it off your list. There’s a huge satisfaction in seeing a task completed, and it will give you the confidence to address the next item on the list with gusto.
Create a schedule
Schedules are vital for time management. People who are organised and prepared are far better at managing their time than those who aren’t. So create a schedule – be it for the day, the week, the month, and if it is working, stick to it. If it isn’t, alter it until you get it right. But don’t give up!
If you know that having music on in your office distracts you from getting your work done, turn it off. If you’re working from home and you’re tempted by the TV or that big pile of washing, set up an office space somewhere away from the distractions. It’s normal to let your mind wander, but don’t let it be to the detriment of deadlines.
Don’t forget your team
There’s a reason we have colleagues, and unless you are very unlucky, they’re more than likely to be willing to help each other out to get something done. Don’t feel you can’t ask for help, as long as you offer to return the favour the next time they ask. It’s great to be a one man band, but it’s even better to be part of a team.
Technology can help you out. If there’s a way to make less work for yourself while still achieving what you need to, then use it. You can schedule Twitter and Facebook posts or YouTube videos a few days in advance to allow you to concentrate on something else, and then pick it up again when the task is completed. Make technology work for you.
It wouldn’t really be a list without the dreaded word exercise. But there it is, staring at you again in black and white. As much as most of us hate it, exercise releases endorphins that make you feel happy. So even if it’s a 30 minute walk at lunch time (see next point…), get moving and you’ll feel better about everything, and when you feel better, you become more productive too.
Take your lunch hour
Now this may seem counterproductive, but trust me it’s not. If you have your hour of downtime, take a walk, enjoy your lunch away from your screen, when you come back you’ll be refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day.
Visualise the future
This is important. If you can see where this work you are doing now will get you in six months or a year’s time, then you can see the reason why you need to work on it now. And when you can see the success in action, it will spur you on.