So much to do, so little time… at least that’s how it feels. Between work, family, friends, hobbies, and self-care, we need an extra day added to the week!
Or do we?
Developing time management skills can help you get more done and feel less overwhelmed. If you make the most of your time, you can use extra hours for what you love!
Without further ado, let’s break down 10 ways to improve your time management skills:
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Time Management Skill #1: Prioritize Urgent Tasks
A master of ceremonies needs to be on top of time at every second of every event. So, over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about time management. First, as you look at the week ahead of you, categorize your tasks:
Not sure how to go about prioritizing tasks? Deadlines are a great place to start. To put it simply, a deadline is a date when a task is due.
Organize your tasks by deadline and see what is due first. Hypothetically, you should work on the tasks with the earliest due dates first. After all, you have more time to work on tasks with later deadlines.
Flexibility for Most Critical Tasks
Sometimes, important tasks arise that require immediate attention. This requires you to have flexibility in your organizational skills.
Maybe you are in the middle of your daily responsibilities. Suddenly, your supervisor presents an important task that must be done by end of the day. Now, that one task is your top priority.
If you are exercising effective time management, this will not pose an issue. You are in the practice of leaving plenty of time to complete tasks. So, adding in a last-minute priority won’t throw you off.
Time Management Skill #2: Plan for the Important Times in Your Personal Life
Productivity is an excellent benefit of time management, but it’s not everything. Learning how to improve your time management also improves your private life.
We’ve all been in this undesirable position before:
You know you should be spending time with your best friend at their birthday party. But you didn’t finish an important project! Now you’re stuck at the office and your friend feels left behind.
Let’s put a stop to this.
Work-life balance requires planning ahead
It can be easy to think you will just remember weddings, birthday parties, movie nights, and the like. After all, they’re fun! You’re looking forward to them!
But don’t let that fool you. Life gets busy and you will forget things if you don’t have good time management skills.
It’s time to start looking ahead. If a personal obligation overlaps with a work project, planning ahead will help you not fall behind.
Knowing what is coming up at home can inform your deadlines, pacing, and time off.
Tracking time spent on personal obligations
Do you keep separate calendars for work and personal tasks? It is vital that you find an effective way to manage your time.
- For some, it means having one master calendar where they can see everything. Looking at more than one becomes too much of a hassle.
- Others prefer to separate work and private life and check both calendars regularly.
What type of calendar works best for you?
The point is that you need a system you will stick to. It must feel manageable and useful, not overwhelming.
- Maybe the easiest thing is for you to add upcoming events to the calendar on your phone.
- Perhaps you need to write tasks down and carry a calendar in your bag.
- You could be someone who responds well to a color-coded Google calendar.
- Maybe it is effective for you to see different tasks on a big whiteboard calendar.
The only wrong choice is the one that doesn’t help you!
Time Management Skill #3: Have Meeting-Free Days to Get More Tasks Done
Corporate emcees and meetings can be necessary in order to move forward on a project. However, they can also be time-consuming and leave you with little time to actually do your work.
Try dedicating one day a week to focused, meeting-free work time.
With no meetings, you will have time for the various tasks that fall by the wayside.
You can use the time to make progress on one task that requires hours of undivided attention. Or, spend the day on other tasks that have piled up.
A meeting-free day can also help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.
As specific tasks arise throughout the week, you may start to feel nervous about completing it all. But the knowledge that you have a day for uninterrupted work can decrease stress.
Time Management Skill #4: Create a To-Do List That Works for You
A to-do list is a simple but effective time management tool.
From work life to life at home, tasks pop up out of nowhere. A to-do list is a place where you can capture everything that needs to get done.
There are different techniques for creating an effective to-do list. Here are a few options:
- Use Google Calendar to track tasks. You can even set aside focused work time for getting them done.
- Use dedicated time tracking software to keep tabs on all of your tasks. This software will also help you practice effective time management.
- Try bullet journaling. This is a good option for those who prefer to physically write their tasks down.
- Use the Notes app on your phone so you have your lists at all times.
Prioritize within your list
The benefit of using a digital to-do list is that they are easily rearrangeable. You can simply move difficult tasks together versus everyday tasks. Or, arrange by department, deadline, or project.
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Time Management Skill #5: Help Yourself Stay Focused
Maintaining focus is one of the most important time management skills.
Sure, you can map out your day with beautiful color coding. But if you don’t complete the work during the prescribed time, then your time management is ineffective.
There are many ways to minimize distractions. Here are a few ideas:
- Identify your most productive work location. Some lose focus in a group setting like a library, while others really get in their groove.
- Save time interrupting your flow by meal prepping. Stopping for an extended period of time can lead to more distractions.
- Increase productivity by taking designated breaks. I know time is a limited resource, but you will stay sharper if you take short, frequent breaks.
Time Management Skill #6: Tend to Your Mental Health
Stress management is key to work-life balance and effective time management. Sure, there are important tasks to get done. But if it’s stress from the work, hire an emcee to run a meeting for you instead.
You also need to be able to turn the “work brain” off when you go home.
We just talked about focus. How can you expect yourself to focus when your mind is in crisis?
The more stress builds up in your system, the more your work will suffer. So, it is ultimately good for time management that you tend to your mental health.
Repeat after me: manage your time, manage your stress levels. Manage your stress levels, manage your time.
Here are some wonderful ways to care for your mental well-being:
- Pamper yourself with baths, massages, and skincare routines.
- Light a candle and snuggle up with your favorite book.
- Release endorphins by moving your body in a joyful way.
- Spend time with people in your life who make you laugh and feel safe.
- Eat one of your favorite foods and chat with a friend.
- Get some fresh air! Take a walk or hike, go roller skating, or go for a swim.
- Spend time with animals. Play with your pet or go to the nearest farm or animal sanctuary.
Time Management Skill #7: Lean On Your Resources
Successful people know when to delegate tasks.
Part of proper management is knowing that you can’t get it all done yourself.
While reviewing your to-do lists and daily tasks, consider how your team can help.
Outsourcing tasks not only lightens the work on your plate, but it also demonstrates trust in your team.
Of course, you don’t want to overwhelm your colleagues. But as you develop time management skills, you will learn to allocate tasks well in advance.
Combine related tasks into one pot. Then, identify who on the team has the bandwidth to take them on.
As an excellent manager, you have not overwhelmed your staff. So, they are open to being delegated tasks that will help the team.
Time Management Skill #8: Take Regular Breaks
This may sound counterintuitive, but taking short breaks is one of the most essential time management skills.
First of all, taking breaks helps you avoid stress piling up.
You are giving yourself time to breathe and step away to clear your mind.
After a few minutes away from work, you will feel ready to dive back. Because you have created brain space during your break, you will be even more productive.
Build in breaks for effective time management
When you start working, it can be hard to stop. Maybe you get on a roll during a project and want to just keep going until it’s done. This is tempting, but do not do it!
I recommend setting a timer on your phone.
Work for twenty minutes and take a break for five minutes.
During that twenty minutes, do not look at your phone or engage in a distracting activity. Dividing work into manageable chunks of twenty minutes makes it easier to stay productive the whole time!
As you develop your time management technique, budget for breaks. The breather of spare time gives your brain a refresh. And ultimately, it helps you use your working time effectively.
Time Management Skill #9: Avoid Multitasking
Have you heard of mono-tasking? It is the art of focusing on one thing at a time and is an excellent time management technique.
Multitasking leaves many opportunities for details to slip through the cracks.
You are writing an email about one thing and Slacking a colleague about another. All while listening to a webinar about yet another topic! How effective can this really be?
If you want the most value for your time, consider mono-tasking.
This is an especially good idea if you have a particularly daunting task to do. Commit time to focus purely on that one important task. I promise you will make more progress on it than if you try doing multiple things at once.
Mono-tasking can be especially effective when you need a clear mind for brainstorming.
When you need brain space for creative problem solving, you don’t want colleagues pinging you.
- Set your calendar to “focused work” status.
- Change your Slack message to Busy.
- Put your phone on airplane mode.
See what you get done. (Hint: it will be a lot!)
Time Management Skill #10: Be Realistic and Start Early
If you are committed to improving time management skills, you are committed to a growth process. What do I mean?
Developing time management skills takes self-awareness.
You need to:
- Recognize where you spend the most time and if it should be that way.
- Look at your calendar regularly and critically.
- Focus and spend your time wisely, especially to complete challenging tasks on time.
The point is that everyone is different.
It will take time to become in tune with your work style. But if you practice and always consider time management skills important, they will serve you well.
Got All That?
Let’s wrap this up by reviewing my top 10 ways to improve time management skills:
Time Management Skill #1: Prioritize urgent tasks.
Time Management Skill #2: Plan for the important times in your personal life.
Time Management Skill #3: Have meeting-free days to get more tasks done.
Time Management Skill #4: Create a to-do list that works for you.
Time Management Skill #5: Help yourself stay focused.
Time Management Skill #6: Tend to your mental health.
Time Management Skill #7: Lean on your resources.
Time Management Skill #8: Take regular breaks.
Time Management Skill #9: Avoid multitasking.
Time Management Skill #10: Be realistic and start early.
If you commit to these steps, you will be shocked at how your schedule opens up!
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Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetings, special events, gala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of CleanComedians.com. For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.