It won't be a surprise to hear that time is perhaps our most valuable resource. Managing our time effectively is so important for keeping productive and organised when it comes to our work.
Whether you are looking for tools for students or for the office, there are some great time management techniques you can use to make sure you are getting the our of your work hours.
You will quickly notice the impact that being organized around time management can make on your work life! You'll find out that there are enough hours in the day, for those who know how to get the most out of them.
First things first: track your time! Whether you use a time tracking service or even just run a stopwatch app from your phone, you will get value out of keeping track of your time.
Time tracking is not just about good time management – it’s about giving yourself the right information to make well informed decisions about where you should be investing your time. Using a time tracking service is about more than just running the clock - reporting features can help you to see where you are wasting time or losing out in terms of value to your business. You can also make your workflow easier by automating parts of your billing process. Invoicing is much easier when the record of your work is so clear!
Time management is more than just recording your time - once you know where you need to improve, there are some interesting time management techniques you might like to try out to help get on top of your time. Let's take a look at S.M.A.R.T goals, Kanban boards and the Pomodoro technique.
‘Work smarter, not harder’ is the main idea of the Pomodoro technique, which originated out of Italy. It's worth thinking of this technique as something similar to the kind of interval training used in general fitness. The basic idea is to break your work down into short intervals with small breaks between to rest and get focused on the next task. Because you break work into small terms, such as 30 minute sections, you can give your self short-term targets to gun for and be positive and productive in hitting quick/achievable targets over your working day.
The Pomodoro technique lets you create a healthy sort of self-competition, where you can race yourself against the clock to improve your methods of completing everyday tasks, while also giving you short breaks to refresh yourself with a quick coffee or water break. Having clear and equal work splits will let you compare productivity across different tasks or during different parts of the day to help you understand when you are at your most productive and where you can improve. You will likely find yourself spending less overall time working while increasing the output of your day!
The next technique we’re looking at is less a time management technique and more of a general workflow technique which will have a strong impact on time management.
A Kanban board is a project management tool to help optimize workflow by creating a visual and clear representation of work in progress, completed, and yet to do. Office work can be very intangible at times – it’s hard to get a quantifiable grasp of work being done in the cloud.
A Kanban board can keep everybody aware of what others in the team are doing, up to date on what has or needs to be accomplished, and generally more aware of the flow of work through the team as a whole. This allows the team to really see what the individual tasks completed are contributing to the overall projects being undertaken. Having an overview of how the pieces fit while being able to focus on the smaller tasks which build into the whole is critical to being able to create a successful overall workflow.
Our last technique, S.M.A.R.T goals, might at first glance sound like something from a primary school classroom, but wisdom oft comes from the mouths of babes. But these sorts of clever acronyms exist because they are useful.
Every goal you set yourself should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Or, in other words, smart. Why? It’s important to have a specific goal in mind in order to know exactly what you are trying to achieve in any given time frame – if the goal is not specific, it can lead to confusion with your team members and wasted time.
It should be measurable as this will allow you to have clear understanding of progress, of when you are finished, and of how far short you have fallen if the goal is not reached. There’s not much point in striving towards a goal if it is not relevant to your work and success.
Finally, it needs to be time-based: you can use effective time tracking techniques to give yourself a very clear overview of success and failure, as well as allowing great comparison between goals so you can see what your team need to improve on and what you’re doing well.
These time management strategies may not be useful for every situation or workplace, but they are worth trying out – we’re living in a time of rapid change and any opportunity to improve on the way we do things should be looked at. Work smarter, not harder!