It happens to the best of us: we plan to have a productive day at work, and somehow the day gets away from us. Time management is a learned skill, and it is an important one. Effective time management can help to lower stress and allow for better work-life balance. Read on to learn the top four ways to better PLAN out your time.
Plan Ahead – And Write It Down
Scheduling can save a ton of time. One estimate says that for each minute you spend planning your time, you can gain as much as ten minutes a day. Put another way, if you spend around 15 minutes each day planning your time, you can save up to two hours each day.
To get the maximum benefit, you need to do the maximum amount of planning. Each night before bed, plan your schedule for the following day. It also helps to choose one day each week and develop a rough plan for the following week. Keep your schedules, whether they are on your computer or on a calendar, organized. It does little good to plan your day if you can’t remember where you put the plan.
Limit The Amount Of Time You Spend On Each Task
We’ve all been there: you get caught up in the task at hand, and forget to eat lunch, or start the next task. Limiting the amount of time spent per task can help you to better manage your time, especially if you also scheduled specific times for those tasks to be completed.
One approach here is to schedule a portion of each task per day. So, instead of finishing task A on Monday, and task B on Tuesday, you might do half of each task on each day. This helps to keep your brain from getting burned out on one project and keeps you fresh.
Allow For Breaks
It’s tempting to schedule everything very closely together. You’ll get more done that way, right? Unfortunately, when we’re tired, we’re less productive, so while you might spend more time working, you’re not working as efficiently. Scheduling five or ten-minute breaks between each activity will give you a little bit of time to finish things up if they run over or to take a moment and grab a cup of coffee.
(Say) No When You Can
When someone asks you to take on extra work — especially if it’s your boss — it can feel like it is impossible to say no. However, most of us do not multitask well, even if we think we do. And, even if it feels like stress motivates you to get things done, most people are less productive when anxious. Learn to refuse to take on more than you can handle, and defer what you can to a later time. You, and eventually your boss, will thank you.
Time management can mean the difference between a relaxed but productive day and a day spent doing more panicking than working. The above four tips, which are easy to remember because they spell PLAN, can help you to be more effective at work, and to have more energy to spend doing the things that are most important to you.