Good and organised time management doesn’t mean doing more work, it means that you will focus more on the important tasks or those that matter and will make a difference. Whether this applies to home life or work, learning how to organise/manage your time effectively will make you feel more relaxed, focused and in control.
Work out your goals
Emma Donaldson-Feilder, a chartered occupational psychologist, said “The aim of good time management is to achieve the lifestyle balance you want”.
The first step to improving your time management is to work out what your goals are, by asking yourself some questions. “Work out who you want to be, your priorities in life and what you want to achieve in your career or personal life,” says Donaldson-Feilder. “That is then the guiding principle for how you spend your time and how you manage it.”
When you have answered these questions, you can then work out the short-term and medium-term goals. Knowing what your goals are will help you plan better and focus on the things that will help you achieve those goals
Write up a list
A common mistake is trying to remember too many details which will lead to an information overload. The best way to stay organised of your work is to write a to-do list.
Donaldson-Feilder has recommended this method and has to everyone to try it and see what works best for you. Just one to-do list is enough to get your control back. Multiple lists may confuse you and you may loose track of what you are doing. “Keeping a list will help you work out your priorities and timings so it can help you put off the non-urgent tasks.”
Quality not quantity
Good time management means that your work should be at a high standard, not a high quantity. The advice that Donaldson-Feilder has given is to concentrate on the results, not how busy you are. She said that spending more time on something, doesn’t necessarily achieve more. “Staying the extra hour at work, may not be the most effective way to manage your time.”
You may feel resentful about being in the office in non-working hours. You are also likely to be less productive and frustrated about how little you are achieving which will compound your stress.
Take a break!
Many employees will work through their lunch break to gain an extra hour. Donaldson-Feilder says that this method could be counter-productive. She continued to say that the general rule is to take at least 30 minutes break away from your work space which will help you be more productive in the afternoon.
A break is a great opportunity to relax and think about something other than work. Going for a walk outside will help you feel refreshed and energised for the afternoon. Your focus will be renewed and you will probably think of better ideas.
A break at mid-day will help break up your day into manageable chunks.
Prioritise important tasks
When writing your to-do list, your tasks can be categorised into four groups:
– urgent and important
– not urgent but important
– urgent but not important
– neither urgent nor important
“When a phone rings, it seems urgent to pick it up but it’s not always important,” says Donaldson-Feilder. “It may be more important to continue with what you were doing rather than be distracted by a phone call. When it is appropriate, it may be more effective to let your voice mail pick up the message.”
Donaldson-Feilder says people who have good time management, create time to concentrate on non-urgent but important tasks. By doing this, they will minimise the chance of activities ever becoming urgent and important.
“The aim is to learn how to become better at reducing the number of urgent and important tasks. Having to deal with too many urgent tasks can be stressful.”
Practice makes perfect – the 4 Ds
Believe it or not we spend half of our working day looking through our emails, making us tired, frustrated and unproductive. According to a study, one in three of office workers suffer from email stress.
Making a decision when you first open the email is crucial for effective time management. To manage this concern effectively, Donaldson-Feilder advises that you practice the 4 Ds of decision making:
Delete: half of the emails you receive will probably get deleted immediately
Do: if the email is urgent or can be completed instantly
Delegate: if the email can be dealt with by someone else with better knowledge
Defer: set aside some time at a later date to spend on emails that require a long period of time to complete.