Good time management involves exercising conscious control over the time you spend on specific activities. When you’re managing your time effectively your productivity increases, you’re able to work more effectively towards your goals, and you’re able to find better work-life integration. And that’s good news for your wellbeing.
The way you think about and manage your time can be shaped by your personality. Do any of these sound familiar?
Be perfect: You aim for perfection in everything and set high standards. This can lead to missed deadlines and misaligned priorities, as everything must be done perfectly.
Be strong: You’re able to stay calm in any situation and work steadily through a list of tasks, but a need to have everything under control means you may not always ask for help.
Hurry up: You like to do everything as quickly as possible and are often able to take on extra tasks. This pace can lead to mistakes being made.
Please others: You use intuition to read and understand others around you, but your tendency to avoid the risk of upsetting someone means you don’t always provide critical feedback when needed.
Try hard: You’re enthusiastic and always volunteer for new tasks. You have a tendency to turn small jobs into major projects as you explore every opportunity and you can become bored with the necessary detailed work that follows.
There are lots of practical ways to improve your time management. Here are a few strategies to get you started…
Start each day or week by creating a to-do list. Be specific and break larger tasks down into smaller, manageable steps. Be realistic about what you can achieve to avoid becoming demotivated. Some people find it more useful to finish their workday creating a to-do list for the following day. This can also help you leave your work in the office rather than continuing to think about it at home, in the evening.
It’s tempting to add absolutely everything to your to-do list. Avoid spending more time planning than doing, by sticking to the 2-minute rule. If a task will take less than 2 minutes, don’t plan it, do it!
Steven Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People offers a simple way to prioritise your tasks; the time management matrix. By sorting your tasks into the grid below you’ll quickly identify which you need to focus on first.
Tasks you need to do straight away due to pressing deadlines or an emergency.
|Important, not urgent
Necessary for you to achieve your goals but not urgent. By spending most of your time on this type of task your stress levels will decrease and your efficiency will increase, making you more successful and improving your wellbeing.
|Urgent, not important
These tasks won’t help you achieve your goals and can be delegated.
|Not important, not urgent
These tasks have no real value but if you still want to do them you can wait until there’s nothing more urgent or important for you to do.
Taking on new tasks when you’re already overloaded is a sure fire way to stress, low productivity and poor quality work. Before agreeing to take on something new, ask yourself if you have the time to do it. If the answer is no, try explaining that you can only take it on if something else is taken off your to-do list. Your relationships will benefit from offering alternatives if you can’t do a task. Maybe you can work on it at a later time (ie. next week) or if it’s more urgent than that you can recommend a colleague who’d be able to help. A positive approach will make your ‘no’ easier to understand and accept.
Good time management is all about confidence and control; 2 key elements of career adaptability. If you’re looking to improve your time management skills, our online career adaptability tool is a great place to start