Have you ever stayed up late, furiously working hard to meet an important deadline, while kicking yourself for not starting the work sooner?
Most people are guilty of occasionally leaving significant tasks to the last minute and not using their time effectively.
Rushing to get work done is a stressful experience but it can be prevented if you find a way to improve your time management.
Time management top tips
You can make things a lot easier for yourself by learning to…
Delegate: If you’ve taken on too many tasks, trust dependable people to share your workload. Delegation doesn’t mean you’re running away from your responsibilities – it is an important function of management, and will allow you to be more productive and help develop your team.
Prioritise: Make a ‘to do’ list by ranking tasks according to their importance. There’s a limit to what you can get done each day so focus first on those that require your immediate attention.
Set deadlines: Give yourself realistic time limits for completing work, and stick to them. Set your deadline a few days before it absolutely must be finished, so that you are prepared for other tasks cropping up in-between.
Avoid multitasking: You will be most efficient if you focus on one task at a time. If you have created a schedule, you will have allowed yourself to devote a decent amount of time to each task that needs to be completed.
Stop procrastinating: Try not to delay less desirable tasks until the last minute, as you need to get them done at some point, so it’s best to just get them over with.
Minimise distractions: Distractions can include emails, phone calls, and co-workers; when you’ve got a deadline it’s time to avoid interruptions. For example, try to reduce the number of times a day you check your email.
If you’re getting distracted by co-workers or you work in an open office environment, try using headphones with calm music. If you have a separate office, you might want to schedule an hour a day when you simply close your door.
Start early: Give yourself time to sit and plan your day before you begin work, as you are more calm and clear-headed in the morning.
Take breaks: Take a five minute break every hour or two and don’t dismiss this as ‘wasting time’ – you need to let your brain rest and recharge. If you don’t take breaks you’ll soon run out of energy, taking you longer to complete each task.
Say no: It is OK to politely refuse further tasks if you’re already overloaded. If you take on too much, you’ll end up producing rushed, sloppy work.
Stop being a perfectionist: Continuing to work on something when it’s essentially done is a significant time-waster. Learn to distinguish between tasks that deserve to be done excellently and tasks that just need to be done.
Try out these tips to tackle your time-wasting habits and reduce stress in your personal and professional life.