Are there ever enough hours in the day?
With only eight hours in the average workday, we often find ourselves wondering where the time has gone and why we’re unable to finish everything before calling it quits for the day. Between emails, sessions, and presentations, it’s easy to lose track of time. And with every email breaking our focus, we’re letting precious minutes slip by.
We’ve put together a list of our top time management techniques to help you prioritize important tasks, use your time effectively, and avoid procrastination.
What is time management?
As a business owner or solopreneur, time management is one of the most important skills to have in this day and age. But many people still haven’t developed the effective time management skills they need to successfully tackle their daily responsibilities and tasks.
Great time management comes with a slew of benefits. We’ll be more productive and efficient in the office, increasing our chances of advancement and improving our reputation as capable, responsible coaches. This leads to success at work and results in less stress, improved job satisfaction, and a better work-life balance.
Why is time management important?
In our professional lives, we may feel like we’re always multitasking, especially if we’re running behind on deadlines. This constant pressure takes a toll on our mental health and negatively affects our job performance and productivity, so it’s a good idea to take control of our workload and make it more manageable.
Adopting good time management skills can turn our situation around and inspire confidence. When we finally master our schedule and stop procrastinating, we can better appreciate our time, complete more in a day, and improve our mental health. Time management strategies can:
- Give us more free time. If we continually complete our tasks on time and are on top of our duties, we don’t need to worry about meeting deadlines and can enjoy our free time. Our weekends aren’t meant to be spent worrying about (or doing) our projects at work. Developing a work-life balance is crucial for supporting our well-being.
- Reduce stress. If we accurately estimate how long tasks will take and allocate time in our schedules to complete them, we’re more likely to meet deadlines. Plus, breaking down our responsibilities into easy-to-manage chunks of time helps us prevent and reduce stress. We’ll no longer feel overwhelmed by a seemingly never-ending to-do list.
- Improves our focus. Setting firm deadlines is an effective motivational tool and encourages us to complete our work. Rather than procrastinating and putting tasks off for later, we’re more likely to make good use of our existing time if we have a clear cutoff point.
When we implement time management techniques into our workflow, our goals seem much more achievable, and we can increase the number of tasks we complete in a day.
Common time management mistakes
There are countless benefits of implementing time management strategies into our routines. As with any strategy, skill, or technique, we should avoid some common mistakes to make the most out of our time. When we’re trying to be efficient, we shouldn’t:
- Neglect taking breaks. It seems counterintuitive that taking breaks actually improves our time management and productivity. Some people may think breaks are a waste of time, but when we feel stressed out and need a second to clear our minds and reset, breaks are extremely helpful to get us back on track.
- Surround ourselves with distractions. Social media, notifications, and phone calls are the largest culprits when it comes to distractions. They’re always on our person or desk and buzzing when we need to focus. And when we’re making good progress, the last thing we want to do is divert our attention. Instead of immediately responding to notifications and falling victim to distractions, we should schedule time in the day to let ourselves zone out and indulge in distractions. Scheduling time to respond to emails or Slack messages will also help you focus on what’s happening in front of you. (Maybe we should set timers just to be safe, though.)
- Take on more than we can handle. Having a large number of tasks assigned to us at once is overwhelming. And yet we often say “yes” to taking on more responsibilities when others ask. We need to learn to say “no” and not bite off more than we can chew and strive to break down our responsibilities into manageable chunks that we can work and plan with. Plus, by denying some projects, we can focus on our urgent tasks.
- Multitask. Again, doesn’t this make us more productive? Actually, the opposite is true. By multitasking, we split our attention, and each task takes longer to complete than if we just focused on one thing at a time. We may find many new tasks arise during our workday while we're working on other projects. It’s tempting to get a head start on new assignments, but prioritizing completing our current tasks reduces our risk of burnout.
Avoiding these common mistakes and focusing on a small number of tasks helps us improve our productivity and job performance. By working on specific tasks and setting time limits for ourselves, we can complete more in the amount of time we dedicate to working.
6 time management strategies
Now that we know what to avoid, we should look at some time management strategies to incorporate into our workday. Try these six time management tips to increase productivity in the office:
1. Set clear goals
There’s only so much we can do in a day, so we’ll need to set goals and establish what we want to accomplish in our limited time frame. We can break down our projects into smaller tasks to complete over more manageable time blocks.
2. Track the time you spend on tasks
Also called time-auditing, we can spend a few weeks tracking how long tasks actually take us. When we first begin planning our schedules, we may run into roadblocks by over or underestimating how much time we require for each task. But the more we refine our methods and understand how long we need, the more accurate our schedules will become.
3. Create a daily routine
We should begin our day with a good idea of what we want to accomplish by the end of our workday. This allows us to set specific times to complete a single task and prevents us from jumping from one task to another.
4. Add buffers and breaks
It’s important to take a breather. Remember, overworking decreases our productivity, so factoring occasional rest periods into our schedules is crucial to having our workday run smoothly.
5. Pomodoro your day
Use the Pomodoro technique and app to set times for work and schedule breaks in between. Working in short bursts maximizes our productivity, decreases distractions, and allows us to recharge.
6. Respect your plan
We can think of our schedule as a commitment we made to ourselves, but it should be more of a guide. Rather than adhering to strict time limits, we should follow our schedule and focus on completing our goals. If our most important task would only take another half hour, it might be worth investing. But there are some things we can’t control, and we shouldn't beat ourselves up if time gets away from us.
Using tools like day planners and the Pomodoro app gives us visual and auditory cues to stop, reset, and stretch before tackling the next part of our busy schedule.
How to prioritize tasks
One of the most crucial steps to adopting better time management is prioritizing our most important or urgent tasks. The Eisenhower Matrix is an easy way to figure out which tasks require the most attention. Here’s how it works:
- Create four quadrants on a graph with the axes “urgent” to “not urgent” and “important” to “not important”.
- Sort your daily tasks into one of these four quadrants based on urgency and importance.
- Tackle important and urgent tasks first. If more of these come up during the day, prioritize them.
- Second, comes important tasks that aren’t urgent. We should work on completing these whenever we have time and perhaps set smaller sub-goals and checkpoints within the task.
- Our third priority tasks are urgent but not important. Whenever possible, we should delegate these tasks to others or delay their completion.
- We should delete tasks that aren’t important or urgent. Finding a trusty CRM or CM software will help us automate these responsibilities so they aren’t cluttering our to-do lists.
We can follow these simple steps to do, decide, delegate, or delete our responsibilities. With this framework, we can master effective project management and ensure we have enough time to complete the most valuable tasks first.
Manage your time and customer relationships with Practice
At Practice, we understand the importance of allocating time each day to manage our relationships with our customers. We made our platform and CRM tools specifically for coaches. Let us help you make the most of your workday by optimizing customer interactions and leaving the administrative duties to us. Try Practice today.