Time management is a crucial element of employee productivity. Some people are naturally more inclined to good time organization. Others, on the other hand, need to actively think about and make changes to their behavior and find an effective time management technique to keep up with their coworkers.
Being able to manage your time successfully is a skill you can practice and improve. The internet offers a plethora of tips and tricks, some of which are diametrically opposite. So, you may be wondering – which time management techniques are objectively the best?
The Answer Isn’t Clear
Unfortunately, there is no universal answer. Simply put, people’s minds don’t all work the same way. Time management techniques that works perfectly for one employee can bring additional stress to another and reduce their productivity instead of increasing it. For example, a strict schedule may help one employee organize well and keep on track with their tasks. on the other hand, using the same method can make other employees miserable, as they need more flexibility.
Many other factors impact the time management techniques that could improve your work habits. Here are some of the most important factors when choosing time management techniques.
- The type of work you do
- Your circadian rhythm
- How used you are to planning ahead
- How well do you work under pressure
- Whether you are naturally inclined to time management techniques or not
Creative vs Exact Work
Having a strict schedule often clashes with more artistic and creative jobs. It is well-known that you cannot force creativity. If you try to, the results may be sub-par, which helps neither the company nor the employee. It will result in numerous corrections, longer work hours, and stressful deadlines (also notoriously known as crunch time in the gaming and film industries).
On the other hand, if you are working in a less creative field, planning your day ahead can help you greatly. Time management techniques like time blocking, timeboxing, and task batching could be a great solution for you. In other words, knowing exactly what you’ll be doing and when can help you organize your time and be more productive rather than overworking.
The Importance of Your Work Rhythm
When we say “work” we usually think of a stereotypical image – a five-day eight-hour workweek in an office or a cubicle, typing away on a computer. More importantly, those eight hours tend to be from nine AM to five PM. Simply put, this time frame is the norm for most people in the Western hemisphere, as most offices are open during this time.
Yet, the fact that this is the norm doesn’t automatically mean these are the optimal work hours for everyone. Some people enjoy sleeping in and getting their much-needed rest. Others, on the other hand, like to start their days early and have more free time in the afternoon. Following personal energy levels and allowing yourself to work through your peak productivity hours is a great time management technique. Additionally, you can combine it with several other methods to improve your productivity while not necessarily having to work harder.
Are You a Planner already?
Many people swear by different planning methods. This isn’t unusual, as planning is one of the most common time management techniques. After all, you need to have at least a vague idea of what you’ll be doing on any given day. Many people naturally gravitate toward planning and have developed their own tricks to doing it effectively. If you have your planning method – whether it be lists or journals, you already have one of the most important time management tools under your belt.
However, some positions are not great for this method. Namely, some workplaces are so dynamic that daily goals often change. This means that planning can be difficult or downright impossible.
Whichever the case may be, you can read up about productive planning and incorporate some new elements into your routine. Yet, if your own method is working for you (however unconventional) – simply stick to it.
Pressure! Pushing Down on Me!
Sticking to a structured time management technique doesn’t bode well with some people. Namely, the expectations to have a certain amount of work done each day can create a creative block, and make the employee more aware of how much they’re behind, rather than helping them focus more. Obsessing over your chosen time management techniques can slow a person down and discourage them from achieving their potential.
We all have our slow days, and sometimes priorities shift. An unexpected meeting, exhaustion from a previous project, personal problems, etc. – all these factors can slow a person down and reduce their motivation for a while. These periods of stagnation and slowing down are natural parts of work, but comparing them to your planned results can be counterproductive and create pressure and a sense of impending doom while in reality, you’re simply having a bad day (or period).
Wait… Am I Repeating Myself?
Purposely using time management techniques you’re already using unconsciously can hinder your work. For example, if you are great at prioritizing, using a technique that focuses on learning how to prioritize, like Eating the frog will probably only mean adding an unnecessary step to your routine.
That is, you will be doing the same thing you used to do before, but now with added steps and worrying about doing all the steps right, even though you used to do the same thing naturally. Our advice is to stick to what you know, give additional steps a try and keep only the elements that actually work for you.
The Benefits of Time Management
Time management represents the processes of time organization before starting a task. Simply going into a project without any previous planning will leave you jumping from one activity to another. This is often accompanied by frantically searching for necessary documents, work materials, or the coworker with the information you forgot to ask for.
That is to say, some level of planning and organization is a must when it comes to working. You can be as strict or flexible as you want, but a structured routine will help you immensely.
1. Developing Positive Work Habits
Learning how to prioritize, keeping your papers orderly, and easier focusing are just some of the basic benefits of using effective time management techniques. This means you will learn how to continue exactly where you’ve stopped earlier without the need for a long preparation.
When a positive work practice becomes a habit you will be able to manage your workload faster, and, more importantly, more efficiently. Keeping your documentation in well-organized folders, for example, can help you find an earlier project similar to your new task.
Secondly, dividing your work hours into portions and understanding priorities and regular daily obligations will help you and your company estimate the time needed for a project or a task with more accuracy.
Additionally, knowing when to focus and do deep work will allow for some downtime and help you achieve a good balance between your work and personal life without the danger of overworking and burnout.
2. Reducing Stress
As we have previously mentioned, a badly organized workplace is a huge source of stress for anyone. Not knowing what to do first, or which tasks you’ve already finished can stress anyone out. On the other hand, having a simple list that shows where you are task-wise will provide the feeling of having a hand on your time.
Consequently, knowing your remaining tasks also means you will be able to quickly answer any questions about your progress. This will give you a boost in confidence as well, as your work will become transparent.
3. Achieving Flexibility
Getting stuck with a time-consuming task can eat up your day. However, if you organize your work time into defined sections, you will be able to finish other tasks and take a few much-needed breaks. In this sense, a stricter schedule can bring you more freedom and flexibility than you’d have if you weren’t using a time management technique.
Breaks are a truly beneficial part of any working day, but many people skip them due to the amount of work they have to finish. This is an inefficient use of time, as breaks replenish energy and allow the employees to look at the problem they’re facing from a new angle.
4. Reducing Procrastination
On the other side of the spectrum, there is procrastination. This habit entails postponing work on different tasks as much as possible. It also means a great amount of stress and the fear that you won’t be able to finish your work in time.
This is a great time to introduce planning time management techniques to your workdays. Planning ahead, setting up reminders, using different time management tools that eliminate distractions – whatever works for you, use it to its maximum. This will reflect positively both on your work and your mood, as the source of stress will be eliminated.
5. Increasing Productivity and Effectiveness
Finding a more organized way to work means needing less time to do the usual amount of work. In other words, your productivity and effectiveness in the workplace will increase. Most often, this is a direct result of reducing different distractions. The main causes of distractions are
- Internet usage
- Spacial reasons, such as sitting in a high-traffic office
Even though you can’t eliminate all of these distractions, you can control some of them to the point of improving your work conditions and needing less time to finish your tasks.
6. Personal Benefits
If you are struggling to keep up with your workload, chances are this is reflecting on your personal life as well. You may have already had problems organizing your life. On the other hand, maybe the impending deadlines and the accompanying stress are negatively impacting your personal life and relationships with friends and family.
Picking the best time management techniques usually means being able to leave your work at work, and having a better work-life balance. That means more quality time and less stress. And let’s face it, the stress is definitely impacting your behavior and relationships as well.
Additionally, learning how to plan and organize isn’t only useful when it comes to working. You will be able to prioritize and organize personal matters as well. That means having less stress and more time to relax at home.
7. More Time
This is a benefit that sneaks up on you. Simply put – time management techniques have the basic goal of increasing your efficiency at work. This also means you will end up with more time, as you’ll finish your tasks more quickly. This will leave you with more time to strategize, rest, or educate yourself on your position’s requirements.
Again, the efficient time utilization will mean you will be able to relax more and still be sure your part of the workload is done. This entails prioritization, organizational, and work practices you’ll gradually develop. It will take some time, but you will be able to see the results once these habits become a part of your everyday routine.
8. Bonus Round!
As a bonus, having more knowledge about the things required from you won’t go unnoticed. Simply put, your superiors will notice the increase in your capabilities. You’ll have a greater chance of advancing in your career and negotiating a higher salary.
Time management techniques have many benefits. However, not all methods and tricks work for everyone. Hence, you should carefully think about your priorities and weaknesses in the workplace. Only then should you choose the best technique(s) and apply them to your workflow.
Fortunately, Time Analytics is here to help you discover the best time management techniques. Some of them are very basic, while others can be considered small bonus tricks. We will dedicate articles to different approaches, including
- Time tracking and time management
- Time blocking, time boxing, and other ways to divide your work
- Productivity time and natural energy levels
- Great thinkers and their time management techniques
- To-do lists
- Distraction blocking
- Planning techniques
- Planning for the best work results
You will be able to pick and choose between these options to find the perfect method (or a combination of methods) that will help you overcome the difficulties you are facing.
As we have said, there is no universal solution, but we want to offer a wide selection of time management techniques that can help anyone.
So, let’s get down to business.
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