Managing Time Effectively – Tools And Techniques
Time has become a critical factor for organizations and employees, especially in the last two decades with global competition and increased demand for getting more work done. Time is the most valuable resource for people, that it is often equated with money. Just as spending money judiciously is critical, so is spending our 24 hours. One of the best ways to make use of limited and valuable time is through time management.
We all have personal and professional commitments that need to be fulfilled in a day and we often find ourselves saying “there isn’t just enough time in a day”. Therefore, time management becomes important. It is the process of planning time to complete tasks and work efficiently. Planning and organization are crucial aspects of time management. With time management we learn to allocate time effectively to the right task, assign specific time limits according to the priority and make the best use of time.
WHY IS MANAGING OUR TIME IMPORTANT?
Time management skills are essential as they help us meet work and personal deadlines. Through time management we can decide how much time we want to spend on a particular task and improve our ability to make better decisions.
Enhance productivity and efficiency - Having high workloads and competing deadlines can make us feel overwhelmed and may reduce our focus which in turn can have an impact on our mental health. Research suggests that time management enhances job performance, academic achievement, and wellbeing (Aeon, Faber & Panaccio 2021). Prioritizing work can help to break the work down into smaller tasks and help focus on one task at a time which increases our productivity.
Provides a sense of fulfilment - Following time management techniques leads to accomplishing tasks efficiently which provides intrinsic rewards. Completing work efficiently creates time to pursue other things in life such as hobbies, spending time with loved ones, which will all result in feeling energized.
Relieves stress - Having the pressure of tight deadlines can be motivating in the short term, however frequently worrying about work can be stressful and leave us depleted. Managing time helps reduce the stress associated with repeatedly feeling under pressure to deliver on targets.
HOW TO MANAGE TIME EFFECTIVELY?
Time management is a skill and a skill can always be learnt. Let’s take a close look at some time management techniques that can help manage time more effectively.
- Pomodoro Technique - Pomodoro is a popular time management method that asks us to alternate focused work sessions with frequent short breaks. It is a very simple technique that requires a to-do list and a timer. Set the timer for 25 minutes and focus on a single task till the timer goes off. Record what you were able to complete and then take a 5-minute break. Pomodoro is an effective technique as it makes it easy to get the work started. It also helps us to combat distractions. Every 25 minutes is dedicated to one task and every 5-minute break gives the chance to reset and bring our focus back on the task.
- Kanban Technique- TheKanban technique is a visual productivity workflow, using a board and cards, it provides an overview of all the tasks from start to finish. This technique is especially helpful for those who get overwhelmed with multiple tasks that need to be done in a day. It helps in keeping track of projects, goals, and priorities. Typically, a simple Kanban board includes three columns namely, “to-do, doing and done”. As the task progresses, the cards are moved from left to right denoting each phase of the project.
- Time blocking - Time blocking is a simple yet effective way of taking control of your day, this technique is best suited when there are many different projects or responsibilities that need to be juggled which leads to us being reactive. This technique requires us to divide the day into blocks of time. Each block is dedicated to a specific task or group of similar tasks. When we block specific time to work on a single project or task, we focus all our mental resources on one task instead of paying attention to different tasks.
- Eat the frog - This technique guides us on how to be the boss of our to-do list. Here the frog is the biggest, most important task that we are most likely to procrastinate on if we don’t do something about it and get it done. For instance, if we have two most important tasks, we need to start with the biggest and hardest task first. For this we need to discipline ourselves immediately and then persist until that task is complete. It is based on the premise that each morning we must develop the routine of eating the frog before we do anything else.
- Urgent-Important Matrix - A well-known model of time management is the urgent-important matrix, also known as the Eisenhower matrix. According to the model any task can be judged on two factors, how important the task is and to what extent the task is urgent. These two factors result in a matrix, tasks that are both important and urgent need to be done right away. Tasks that are urgent but not important need to be delegated and those tasks that are important but not urgent can be scheduled for later. Lastly, there are tasks that are neither important nor urgent which need to be eliminated.
Time management is a skill that we can learn over time. If we are consistent in our efforts and practice any of these techniques and implement them throughout our day it will lead to more efficiency and productivity at work. With excellent time management, we can get more out of time that we do have to spend it with the people and on the things that we enjoy.
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