Time management is all about getting the most from every hour of every day. As well as boosting your productivity, being able to manage your time effectively can reduce your stress levels and leave you with more quality time to spend on the things you enjoy.
Here are some quick tips to help you get organised, and start managing your time effectively.
Tip 1: Stop thinking – The benefits of mindfullness
It's easy to coast through your day, but if you really want to be successful you need to use each hour to its full potential. As Arnold Schwarzenegger says in his Six Rules of Success speech, there are 24 hours each day. If you sleep for six, you're left with 18, and if you're motivated you can achieve a lot in that time. His advice, if you prefer eight or nine hours in bed? "Just sleep faster"!
Even if you're tired, you can still take control of your day. One morning I met a friend who'd only had three hours sleep. I asked him why he'd gotten up so early instead of spending another hour or two in bed. He explained that, if he spent the day worrying about being tired, he'd get very little done. Instead he was awake, getting on with it, and making every hour count.
According to Carol Gaskell at The Full Potential Group, it is all too easy to waste time and energy through over-thinking. By spending a short amount of time every morning to practice mindfulness has been proven to assist in processing information faster, boost creativity (University of Leiden 2012), increase focus with less stress (University of Wisconsin 2007) and productivity.
So when you set your alarm for work in the morning, think about setting it ten minutes early to allow you to focus on yourself, either through meditation or gentle exercise. Then reap the benefit throughout the day, with perhaps a mindfulness re-charge at lunch!
Tip 2: Expect the unexpected
Over-planning and leaving things to the last minute can lead to stress, especially when an unexpected interruption happens. We call them unexpected, but you know something's going to crop up– whether it's an urgent new priority, a spontaneous meeting or a computer problem. Leave some space in your schedule so that you're able to tackle new priorities without getting behind on the old ones, or make peace with the fact that you may have to work later than usual.
Tip 3: Make time for non-priorities
It's easy to focus solely on client-based work, but business development, personal goals and team building are also vital for your company's success. Schedule some time every day to work on important things that don't have a deadline.
Tip 4: Schedule
Arranging your workday properly can really help you to get things done. We're all familiar with the post-lunch slowdown, but you can tackle it by working on the projects that you're really excited about after your lunch break. This can be a real pick-me-up, and should help you get back on track for a productive afternoon.
Tip 5: Delegate
Your schedule can become packed with lots of little bits and bobs that others could do, so get someone else to help out. They might not do the job exactly how you would, but if you offer them good constructive feedback they'll be able to do it better next time. The more you delegate, the more time you'll be able to dedicate to the important tasks that really need your attention.
Of course, time management should allow for downtime and fun as well as productivity. As Bertrand Russell says, "time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time" – just make sure that half hour you've scheduled for browsing Facebook doesn't transform into a whole morning.