Now, be honest, how would you rate your time management skills? Are key tasks completed efficiently, or do you often find yourself working late into the evening, postponing – or altogether cancelling – personal (and much more fun) commitments?
Here’s the thing: if you let time management become an afterthought, your productivity will suffer. Tasks will take twice as long to complete, meaning more time spent on a single project instead of increasing your clientele (and income), and you’re more likely to experience feelings of overwhelm or, worse, burnout because of all the lunch breaks you worked through and all the rest and recuperation you missed.
Learning and implementing time management techniques will not only benefit your business but your mental wellbeing too. So, here are 8 tips for improving your time management.
Image: styled by Pippa Jameson, photographed by Colin Poole for Ideal Home.
8 tips for improving time management
1. Create a routine
Routines are crucial for improving time management and boosting productivity. Try setting your alarm for the same time every day and creating a morning ritual that helps you to perform at your very best. This could include breakfast, meditation, movement or journaling. Choose activities you enjoy and those that help you to feel energised.
Schedule screen breaks throughout the day – including lunch away from your desk – and try to step away from work for a significant amount of time to rest and switch off. This can be difficult when you work in a creative role as hours can be varied, but try not to skip pleasure.
2. Schedule ahead of time
Make use of tools such as Gmail’s email scheduler and Hootsuite, Planoly and Later for social media to schedule emails and social content ahead of time. Check your analytics for each platform to discover the best times to post for your audience.
3. Declutter your desk
Concentrating on work can be a challenge when you’re surrounded by clutter. Ensure your desk remains tidy (give it a quick once-over at the end of each working day) and nearby areas – such as sofas, if your current office setup is in the living room – are kept neat so you can’t be distracted by cleaning opportunities.
4. Check emails periodically
Dipping in and out of emails throughout the day can distract you from the more important task at hand, and can significantly hinder your progress. Limit email audits to once every 2 hours or more, if you can manage it.
5. Keep a clean inbox
Speaking of emails, when you do check them, it’s important to deal with them right away. Delete those you don’t need, reply to those that require an answer, and flag any that you don’t have time to reply to right away. Revisit – and reply to – these during your next email check.
6. Work in 30-minute bursts
Our brains work better in short and sharp bursts, so next time you’re working on an arduous, challenging or length task, set a timer to go off after 30 minutes of solid and focussed work. Take a short break to rest or complete a smaller, quickly-achievable task, then revisit the initial project for another 30 minutes.
7. Set an OOO
On a deadline? Set an out of office email to make contacts aware that you’re currently unavailable, and let them know when to expect a reply. This will help to avoid multiple emails from individuals chasing for an answer from you.
Keep the copy in your out-of-office clear and concise. For example:
I am currently on a deadline, so non-urgent emails will be responded to after [insert date here].
Thanks for your patience.
8. Write a to-do list
At the end of each day, write a list of tasks to complete the following day. Keep it realistic by prioritising only 2-3 achievable tasks, and consider any additional items completed a bonus. Steer clear of scheduling too many tasks; this can lead to overwhelm and spreading yourself thin so nothing gets completed in its entirety. Place your to-do list in order of priority, and stick to it.
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