There simply isn’t enough time in a day. The Australia Institute believes that Australians work the highest number of hours in the developed world. More work leads to increased stress which leads to more work related illnesses.
One of the biggest foundations for more effective, quality work is time management; a very big issue for anyone that spends most of their time in an environment that requires results by the minute. The biggest culprit that promotes the waste of time might be the very place where you should be using time more effectively. Your work place might be a hotspot for the loudest noises, various striking sights and smells and the most convenient place to access the Internet which all leads to ongoing distractions that leave very little time for meaningful and productive work.
Below is some of the best advice that time management trainers, production analysts and seasoned time management masters can offer.
- Objectify. It shouldn’t take too much time, especially when you’ve had significant experience in your work, to take a step back and look at all the things you need to do. Externalisation makes you see things as simple objects rather than a myriad of tasks that you get caught up in and should help you with the next steps of effective time management.
- Make a list. This helps with objectifying and will save a lot more time than chasing the barrage of tasks you have filling your head. List the things you do all the time, almost all the time and the things that you rarely do and separate them in lists. If you take significant amounts of breaks or time chatting with colleagues, add this to your list as well. It should help you with the next step.
- Prioritise. This might come as a challenge to people who have a long list of things to do, but your priorities should be the ones that yield the biggest gain through the efforts that you will put into your work. The things you do all the time might not be the most help to the company or your career, and the things that you rarely do might be projects or presentations that would prove to be a boost in overall productivity and results. Objectifying and making a list should help you see what you should put more effort and time into, and prioritising will not only put the essential tasks on top of the list, but also remove the useless, unproductive activities that you might be wasting your time on.
- Concentrate. You might tell yourself, “If I do this while I do that on breaks, I’ll be able to finish both things at the same time.” That might be true, but the quality of your work won’t be as good as when you focus on one task at a time. The point of prioritising is to help you achieve your goal, which is to yield the biggest gain from your efforts. It is not for determining which and how many tasks you can do in an hour. Concentrate on the most important priorities that are on top of the list, and work your way down the priority line.
- Time-orient. Put your priorities in a time table, a pie chart or a line of colour-coded notes and be realistic about it. You can’t squeeze tasks that are meant for a week into one hour. Time orientation will also help you block out activities and distractions that get in the way of work. No, you can’t check Facebook right now, as that will eat about 15 minutes of your time and you only allotted one hour for this particular task.
Time management is all about doing the most important things first, and the least important things last. Effective use of time is utilising your skills on the projects that matter the most, and will make you stand out in terms of productivity and potential. Achieving tasks that matter the most will reduce stress and hopefully office hours.