How to improve time management: back to basics

The world seems on the hunt for more time. And of course it is: we live in fast-paced times and it is incredibly difficult to keep up. I think you will relate to this scenario: deadlines are way passed, tasks pile up, and there is simply no time to do anything else that working. You would like to improve your time management, but you have no idea where to start.

When we fail at time management, everything seems to crumble down: you start by being “a little behind schedule” and suddenly you miss deadlines, no project get finished, the clients yell at you, your boss gets angry, and you forget birthdays and family events.

The never ending quest for more time

The old proverb says that Time is Money. So it is perfectly understandable that we make our best effort to use our working hours effectively. But that is easily said than done, isn’t it? Distractions get in the way and ruin our productivity, while poor organization and lack of clarity undermine the foundation of a successful project.

According to a survey, British employees waste at least 3 hours of every shift, and only half of the normal working day is “productive”.  Also, 43% of Americans describe themselves as “disorganized”, while 21% of them reported missing a crucial deadline. Meanwhile, stress-related work is skyrocketing for employees as well as CEOs and freelancers.

Back to basics

Improving time management is a personal, long process: our relationship with time and productivity is subjective. There are several techniques and tricks that can help: try to search on Google “How to improve time management”, you will be probably flooded with results and articles! It is hard to navigate through all of them before finding what really works best.

A good starting point is to begin with a handful of basic time management tips. For example:

  • Plan effectively: be reasonable with the time estimates. An agenda is perfectly useless if it is so stuffed you barely have the time to breathe;
  • Have a clear set of priorities: you need to be honest about your commitments. What is really important, what is urgent, and what is neither? Get the important tasks out of the way, schedule those that can wait and delegate when possible;
  • Quit procrastination: if you can do it today, don’t wait! This is not easy as it sounds, especially for big, intimidating task: creating smaller sub-tasks is a good way to get you going;
  • Learn to say “No”: you should say no at least as many times you say yes. There’s no point in taking on tasks you know you cannot reasonably complete;
  • Use the right tools: a calendar (digital or not), a project management tool, a time tracking tool to help you see where your hours really go will be your best allies!

Now, the floor to you: how many of these tips have you tried? What is your personal recipe for improving your time management skills? Let us know in the comments or send us a message on Twitter.

About Stefania

CMO at Timeneye, making sure the world knows how cool time tracking is. She believes that with careful planning and organization, anything is possible. In her free time, she enjoys reading books and belting out tunes from Broadway musicals (although the neighbors don't seem to appreciate that).