We all have the same 24 hours in a day. But some people can conquer the world in that time while others are stuck clearing their inboxes. Regardless of your industry, whether you’re a chef, doctor, or an influencer, time management is the only way you can achieve your goals and boost your productivity. I might sound a bit like Captain Obvious telling you this, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who don’t employ any time management strategies or think they can find the answer in an Amazon Kindle freebie.
There aren’t 5 magic steps you can start using today and become a master of time management tomorrow. (Sorry to burst your bubble.) But there are some proven strategies that can help you get on the right track.
How can you get anything done if you don’t know what you need to do or when you’re going to do it? Sure, you’ve got conference calls on your calendar. If you miss those, the boss will rip you a new one. But you should treat your own activities and deadlines with the same level of importance. Figure out how long it’s going to take you to get that report done. If you need 5 hours, make sure you have those 5 hours blocked out on your calendar. This way, you won’t allow anything else to distract you from finishing your work.
Though you’d like to think so, you’re not Superman. You can’t do it all in an 8-hour workday, and there’s no reason to try. Be realistic about what’s on your plate and determine timelines to check each thing off your list. Identify which tasks are priorities and which ones can wait until later in the week. If you try to do everything every day, you’ll become your own kryptonite.
Start Saying No
That’s right. Start saying no. Sometimes, your pile of work stacks up because you’re too nice to say no. Then, you end up working for 14 hours because you’ve taken on a lot more than you can handle. This method of working is stressful and can lead you to burnout faster than you can press ‘save’. If your schedule is full, say no. Or, if it’s a project you can’t avoid, ask for an extension.
Learn to Delegate
If you’re a manager, you’ve got people working for you who can get things done on your behalf. Trust your team and start handing over some things that you just don’t have time for. Just be sure these tasks serve a purpose for the employee. It’s doubtful they’ll learn anything from filing away your old receipts. But they stand to learn a great deal from analyzing traffic numbers for your website.
If you want to improve your time management skills, and ultimately your productivity, you first need to admit that it’s not going to happen in an hour. There’s no magic pill, book, or life hack that will make your workload disappear. But with a little common sense and a lot of focus, you can get ahead of it all. And stay there.