Seven steps to better time management

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If you are finding that your work is taking over your life and never seems to get done, then you need to improve your time management. By prioritising and scheduling your day properly you will get more work done and improve your work/life balance. Here’s how.

Schedule your day
At the beginning of the day (or maybe the end of the day before) set out what tasks you need to do and prioritise them. Set out when each should be done and stick to your timetable. You can use a calendar, diary or notebook to keep a record of your schedule but there are many other time management tools available. When you find a method that you are comfortable with and works for you, stay with it and use it consistently.

Keep a record
This is one aspect of time management than can be overlooked. By keeping a record of your day's activities as you do them, over a week or two you will be able to build up a picture of how your day is typically structured. This will show you how and where you can make improvements.

Get organised
Being organised means being able to find what you want quickly, knowing your timetable and not getting flustered. It is a simple task to put things where you can find them – proper physical or electronic filing, for example. Getting rid of those bits and pieces you no longer need and keeping a tidy workplace all help. If you can find things quickly and aren’t wasting time wondering what you are supposed to be doing next, then you won’t get flustered.

"your primary task should always be at the forefront of your mind"

Be flexible

Sticking to a schedule is a great way to manage your time, but regularity can become a hindrance. Circumstances change over time so it is wise to look at your schedule regularly to see if routines need to be changed to adapt to new situations. Also, occasionally unexpected situations arise. You need to be flexible enough to deal with these and to reorganise your timetable accordingly. But, your primary task should always be at the forefront of your mind.

Distractions
Even in the best-run workplaces there will always be the occasional distraction – an unexpected visitor, a phone call, maybe even a dispute among staff. These are unavoidable but must not be allowed to dominate. Stay focused and on track or you will find the work beginning to pile up.

Unfinished tasks
No matter how much you like your job, you will sometimes be given tasks that you just don’t want to do. These sometimes stay on the “to do” list and play on your mind, so affecting your other work. If this happens you have two choices – don’t bother or just do it. Usually the first is not an option, so knuckle down and get on with it. You’ll be surprised at the sense of relief and satisfaction you will get when it is finished.

Take a break but make use of delays
A short break will leave you refreshed and ready to go again. Schedule breaks into your day and make sure you take them. However, if you are in the middle of a task and are delayed because you have to wait for someone or something, use this free time to catch up on other things.

If you take these simple steps to manage your time, you will find that you are much more organised and get more done in a shorter time. You will enjoy greater job satisfaction and a more fulfilling life outside of work too.