We’d all like to show up early for work, complete tasks before they are due, and fluently maintain cordial relationships with our social circles. Unfortunately, in today’s world we’re given a lot of responsibilities and obligations and we often feel the need to cut corners in order to free up some time. You may begin to feel there are not enough hours in the day to complete the things you’re required to, but it all comes down to allocating your time more appropriately and minimizing invaluable distractions. There are several ways to remain a hardworking and dedicated professional while freeing up more time for side projects or recreational ventures. Here are a few ways to help you become more conscientious with your time:
Formulate a schedule and don’t stray from it
Humans are creatures of habit and when we get into habits we tend to stick with them. Both good and bad habits follow the same general guideline: if we repeat the same tendencies and lifestyle choices day after day, they will become ingrained into our consciousness and we will find a way to continue these habits even when restricted by time.
This reality is reason enough to begin formulating a future schedule and using this time to train your body and mind into a routine that works for you. When you begin to get the hang of your schedule, you can then begin to plan your days out weeks or months ahead of time. Include everything in your schedule including important family days (i.e. birthdays, anniversaries, etc.), critical workplace deadlines, and family activities in order to keep your life organized both at work and at home. Once again, give yourself time to analyze your current schedule and assess what is causing you to waste time and then plan your future schedule for optimal results.
Discover your priorities
An incredibly fundamental aspect of efficient time management is understanding what is a priority and what is subtly wasting your time. To clarify, ‘wasting your time’ doesn’t necessarily mean that these habits/activities are negative or bad, but in the long run, these ventures will not offer you a sizeable return on the investment of your time.
Say, for example, after a long day at the office, you plan on going to the gym for 30-60 minutes to ensure you’re staying active. However, following the work day, you tend to go home and watch TV shows and movies and then fall asleep before you’re able to go to the gym. Watching movies and TV shows isn’t a bad thing to do, especially if it helps you de-stress and relax, but if it doesn’t fall in line with your goal of ‘staying active’ it’s essentially taking you off course from your personal goals.
Relating this back to the workplace, the sooner you realize what is important to you and your professional success, the sooner you will eliminate habits and tendencies that are preventing you from reaching your goal. If you discover that you seem to require an extra 15 minutes a day to adequately finish your work but you regularly spend 30-45 minutes chatting at the watercooler or browsing your phone, recognize, react and reduce these patterns and prioritize your personal objectives.
In order to get things done, sometimes you need to shut off things that are keeping you from reaching your full potential. For example, when you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep, you’d turn off your bedroom light, turn off the television and you’d ask the other people in your house to keep their volume down. This can be considered ‘establishing your borders.’ The workplace can be a very distracting place; coworkers chatting around your desk can take your eyes and mind off of your work, which is terrible for efficiency especially if you were already focused. Therefore, being able to openly communicate your expectations and wishes for yourself to your coworkers and family members is crucial in saving time and increasing your output. The thing is, nobody can read your mind, and unless you’re upfront with them about when they should leave you alone, they will assume you are always available for a casual chat. In a polite and professional manner, simply remind anyone that may be interfering with your work and tell them that between ‘X’ hours you are unavailable. If your position relies on you answering questions or consulting with team members, inform your fellow workers of the times that you will be accepting simple requests and phone calls.
To reiterate, efficient time management is not easy for everyone; for some people, it can even feel like a second job. Yet, unless you take proactive steps to change your current habits, you may not end up achieving your goals, however big or small they may be. When you formulate a schedule, discover your priorities and establish personal borders, you’ll begin to notice you’ve put yourself on a path to success. Furthermore, access to data regarding your habits can be tough to do, which is why time tracking software can be so beneficial in monitoring your progress and allowing you to see where you can improve. Time tracking software will detail exactly how long it takes for you to complete certain tasks, and it also allows you to view your clock-ins, lunch breaks and clock-out times so you can be sure that you’re staying on track. Another important aspect to time tracking software is that it breaks down for you which tasks you’ve been focusing on and allows you to prioritize the projects based on deadlines or relevancy, which can help keep you focused on the job at hand.
For more information on time management and time tracking software, contact Tempo today and we’ll discuss which options best fit you and your business needs!