An employee following time management tips at work.
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10 easy time management tips to be more effective at work

Overwhelmed at work? These easy time management tips will help you and your workers reduce stress and get more done.

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Have you ever woken all pumped up in the morning, ready to seize the day? Optimistic and hopeful, you think, “Today I am going to meet all my deadlines, hit the gym, and come home in time to cook a nice, hot meal.”   

Then as you begin your day, reality kicks in. Something comes up and you get late for work. Once you sit down to focus, you realize you have multiple, back-to-back meetings till noon. From there, everything goes downhill. 

And if this keeps happening day after day, it’s not just your productivity that suffers, but also your motivation to give your best.

So what can you do? The answer lies in effective time management. Everyone has the same 24 hours per day, and it’s possible to realize your full potential during that time. The following time management tips will show you how.

Easy time management tips at work

Mismanaging your time hurts both your work and your personal life. So if you want to manage your time instead of letting the time manage you, it’s important to reserve the right time for the right tasks. That’s the core principle on which the below time management tips are based. Let’s go through them one by one.

Plan your day, and stick to the plan 

You and your team can’t manage their time without a clear idea of what you intend to do with that time. So one of the first time management tips you should work on is creating a to-do list.

You can make this list early in the morning, but some people find it’s better to do this at the end of the previous day. This tactic lets you get on the right track as soon as you get to your senses in the morning.

Plus, putting everything in writing for the next day lets you get a peaceful sleep. It keeps you from lying awake at night, worrying about the pending tasks in your brain.

One of the easiest ways to build and manage your to-do list is to use a task management tool such as Trello.

Dashboard of Trello, a to-do list app.

Trello is a simple and user-friendly list-building app with a Kanban interface. This means that you can build separate lists to keep track of the status of each task, such as “To Do,” “In Progress,” and “Done,” and move your tasks through these lists for easier management.   

We’ve also rounded up some of the best productivity apps you can use today which will be worth checking out.

Conduct a time audit

A study of business owners and executives shows that on average, they spend around 22 hours a week on wasteful activities. And chances are, you might be doing the same.

So to optimize your time, it’s crucial to first understand where your time is going. And this can be done with a time audit.

The concept is simple. Track your day-to-day activities and try making a detailed weekly log of where you are spending your time. Such a time audit will help you identify:

  • The amount of work you can realistically handle in a day
  • The distractions and unnecessary activities that suck your time
  • The tasks that give you the most value for your time
  • The amount of time taken by each task

All these insights are valuable to your time management efforts. Plus, the audit can also uncover the times at which you’re most productive during the day. So you can use this time to focus on your hardest or most important items.

Dashboard of RescueTime, a time tracking software.

You can easily conduct a time audit with a time tracking tool, such as RescueTime. Working in the background, it lets you monitor the time you spend on different apps, projects, and websites.

Prioritize your tasks

If you take only one thing from these time management tips, this should be it. Prioritization is THE key to managing your time at work. We tend to focus on what’s urgent in place of what’s important for our goals.

At the end of the day, all the urgent tasks you did may make you feel like you’ve done a lot. But if the important tasks are still pending, you woudn’t have accomplished much.

So you need to check your to-do list and ensure that it considers the importance of each task instead of its urgency.

Another concept that can help you enormously is the Eisenhower matrix. In fact, research shows that it’s the most successful time management practice among professionals.

As shown below, you can use it to divide your tasks into four quadrants depending on their importance and urgency.

Eisenhower matrix helps in evaluating work and set priorities.

Image Source: Chillpill

These quadrants are:

Important and urgent (top-left): These tasks are both important and urgent. So you should strive to complete them as soon as possible.

Important but not urgent (top-right): These activities are important but you don’t need to act immediately. Having said that, these must be a part of your weekly or monthly schedule. Ideally, most of your time should be spent in this quadrant.

Urgent but not important (bottom-left): These items are urgent but not significant to your goals. So you should try to delegate or reduce these distractions in your life and work.

Neither urgent nor important (bottom-right): These tasks hold no value whatsoever. So it’s better to toss them out as much as possible.

For example, a phone call often seems urgent because the phone doesn’t stop ringing until you pick it up. But if it’s from a chatty friend who spends hours talking about random things, it’s neither urgent nor important.

Once you figure out your priorities based on the urgent-important matrix, you will know exactly where to put your time and reap the benefits.

Ditch multitasking

Quick question. And be honest. How many windows/tabs do you have open right now on your computer? Or how much time do you spend browsing your text messages or social media feeds on the side while you’re at work?

An employee multitasking at work.

Not just that. Things can get even more dangerous if you’re a frontline worker. The tools you use can accidentally hurt you if you’re multitasking and not careful.

The solution is simple. Do one thing at a time.

Yet for many, it’s one of the hardest time management tips to follow. Because the obstacle is not just physical, but psychological.

Multitasking can make you feel like you’re making the most of your time and accomplishing more in your day. In reality though, it’s the opposite. Managing multiple activities at once diminishes your productivity.

So cultivate the habit of focusing on the task you’re doing. Don’t try to burn the candle at both ends. It’s not good for your work or your long-term well-being.

Batch similar tasks

Different tasks require different types of effort and mindset. And when you start a task or switch from one activity to another, it takes you some time to get in the right zone.

That’s why you can reduce this prep time drastically by handling related items consecutively. For example, if your tasks include answering internal emails and answering customer emails, group them together because both are going to involve wearing your thinking cap and writing clearly.

Allocate a time limit for each task

As we said, to-do lists are essential. But they might not be enough, especially if you end up feeling like you never check anything off the list. And this problem can be solved by setting time limits on your tasks.

Even better. Combine your time limits with the Pomodoro technique to give a steady pace to your routine. For example, if you estimate that a task will take an hour, assign it two 25-minute chunks, with a short break after each stint. This technique has the dual benefit of increasing your focus and lowering mental strain.

Learn to say no

Does this ring a bell? You’re overloaded with tasks. But then your manager comes up with a new project and asks you to take the lead. You get carried away at the moment and say yes. Unfortunately, this is a scenario with which we’re all too familiar.

It’s impossible to manage your time successfully if you don’t muster up the courage to say no to unrealistic demands.

So make it a point to commit to only what you can handle and what’s most important. Remember the 80/20 rule? 80% of return comes from 20% of activities. Focus on fewer tasks that create the most value than a lot of tasks that yield nothing.

If you need to decline a task to make time for the more important stuff, don’t hesitate to do so. Keep your priorities clear at all times.

Take well-spaced breaks

Switching from one activity to the next without any gap in between isn’t the best use of your time. Catching your breath frequently is essential for your health as well as your capacity for high-quality work. In fact, research by Microsoft reveals that you can engage with your activities better when you take breaks. 

So make sure to set aside short buffer times of 10-15 minutes between your work items. Use these breaks to relax and recharge. For example, you can go for a walk, have a snack, or chat with a colleague. Do something that’s effortless.

Be organized

Ever heard the phrase, “Out of sight; out of mind?” The opposite is also true. When something is in sight, it’ll take a share of your mind. And you’ll end up being distracted by unnecessary objects.

Little things matter. If you have a messy, cluttered desk, you’re also more likely to waste hours trying to find something when you need it.

So make sure to keep yourself and your team organized. A good employee communication app like Blink, for example, can help you organize your important files and messages in one place, and make them searchable.

Content Hub — Blink, an employee communication app.

Avoid distractions

We are surrounded by unlimited distractions — social media, unannounced coworkers, web browsing, instant messaging, and more. And it has become such a big problem that 54% of people aren’t performing to their true potential due to distractions at work.

Pie charts showing the impacts of workplace distractions.

Image Source: Udemy

So if you want to manage your time well, getting rid of time-wasting activities is non-negotiable. Try to limit daily interruptions as much as possible. Close those extra tabs, turn off the sneaky notifications, and leave your personal phone calls out of work.

A great way to reduce distractions caused by other people is to block some time slots in your calendar by yourself. This sends a message to coworkers that you are not to be disturbed during those times.

Final thoughts: easy time management tips at work

Overall, the right way to manage time is to look at it from a different lens. It’s not so much about managing your time as about valuing it.

The more you value your time, the more effort you will make to protect it. And the more these time management strategies will work for you. Then you won’t be able to give your time away to frivolous activities as easily as you do now.

It will take some time, but eventually, you’ll get better at it. And then you’ll see your effectiveness going to a whole new level, your to-do list shrinking, and stress levels coming down.

So get going!