“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” – Steve Jobs
The old adage “Time is money” has immense significance in today’s fast paced world. Many entrepreneurs rated time as their most valuable asset in recent surveys. Constant distractions and interruptions, external pressures, over-commitment, poor planning, and unexpected events can take up precious time. Businesses adopt several strategies to manage their time. For instance, many firms save time on tedious documentation tasks by outsourcing the work to business transcription agencies. In fact, delegation is a meaningful and practical time management strategy. There are many other ways you can manage your time better and improve productivity. Here are some valuable time management tips that can benefit you professionally as well as personally.
- Set SMART goals: The step to successful time management is to set measurable or SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound goals. To know where you are going and how you are going to get there, you need to set both short-term and long-term goals. To begin, make a to-do list, identify the things that you need to get done, and determine a time line for getting them done. Then break down your long-term goals down into monthly, weekly, and daily targets. Small, short-term goals matter the most for time management and productivity. You can use a time-management tool to physically manage your time and schedule events easily.
- Prioritize: Take time to set your priorities and plan to do your most important tasks when you are most productive. To set priorities, evaluate your goals and responsibilities, and the impact of the activity. List the steps needed to complete your important activities, and then plan how to get the work done on time.
- Rekindle your motivation on a regular basis: To stay focused on your goals, a recent Business 2 Community article recommends regularly reigniting your motivation. Engage in something new or add on to something you have already done. For instance, evaluate the experience of your mobile website, especially speed and navigation, and see if you can improve on it. This may seem like additional work, but doing something new can help you find your motivation again and manage your time better.
- Set up routines and follow them: You can be more productive, especially in a crisis, if you establish a routine and stick to it as far as possible. With a routine, you will be able to get down to your planned activities without wasting any time. Find your most productive time – some people are more productive in the morning and others, at the end of the day. Complete your work when you can do your best.
- Minimize distractions: Where possible, minimize distractions in the workplace. Clear your desk of clutter as it can delay/cloud decision-making. Put off all unimportant things until you work is done. If you are on an important task, ignore phone calls and email, and avoid social media. If possible, relocate to an empty room. If colleagues interrupt you in your workspace, excuse yourself politely and return to your task at hand. Put off unimportant things until your work is done. This is one of the most important but difficult challenges when it comes to time management.
- Use the Pomodoro method: A popular technique, the Pomodoro method is known to increase productivity by helping you manage how you work and lets you stay productive throughout the day. The method recommends the following technique to help people save time in a fast-paced work environment:
- Schedule work sessions for 25 minutes with zero interruptions
- Take a 5-minute break to refresh and re-energize
- After 4 work periods, take extended 15-minute breaks
- Track your time: Review your tasks, your notes, and your calendar on a regular basis and track your time. Time tracking can keep you focused on the task you’re handling at that moment. It will also give you an idea as to how your time is being spent, everyday and over the long term. Review and time tracking will help you understand where you need to make changes.
- Drop things that don’t work for you: If you’re trying to manage your time more effectively, the last thing you should do is to spend your time on things that don’t work for you. Do an assessment of your daily activities and decide what is important to you and your business, and what is not and can be dropped. This will keep you from overburdening yourself so you can focus on what really matters.
- Delegate, outsource: There’s no doubt about this – delegating and outsourcing can save valuable time, boost your business, and increase your income. Outsourcing certain tasks to specialized service providers can free up your time for bigger tasks and cut overhead expenses, while getting these jobs accomplished efficiently. Common tasks that businesses outsource include content marketing, bookkeeping, payroll, and search engine optimization. Outsourcing transcription is also a popular option. Digital transcription agencies offer services to document everything from correspondence and interviews to conference calls, podcasts, meetings, and telephone calls.
- Use your “freed-up” time wisely: Using these time management strategies will leave you with free time. Here are some suggestions for using this time wisely from www.lifehack.org: clip and keep useful articles for reading later, clear out your inbox and feeds, make phone calls that you had put off, update finances, brainstorm ideas, exercise, and network. You can also review notes for an upcoming meeting.
In a recent article published in the Quartz, Selin Malkoc Associate Professor of Marketing, The Ohio State University, points out that a new series of studies that she conducted along with two other researchers found that scheduling can sometimes backfire and actually make you less productive. To prevent this from happening, the study authors recommend scheduling events or tasks back-to-back. This will prevent what they term “time famine” and leave you with larger blocks of unscheduled time. “Several uninterrupted hours of unscheduled time will feel longer, especially if there’s nothing scheduled looming,” says Malkoc.