10 Tips to Maximize Your Time (at Work)
Time management — and organization — is an important skill to master in terms of personal and professional success. Yet, to be more clear, we cannot actually manage time. That’s a misnomer. We can manage tasks and events. We have 24 hours a day to use wisely or waste. Remember: being busy is not the same as being productive. Consider these 10 Tips to Maximize Your Time — if you struggle managing tasks or using your time wisely at work.
1. Track Your Time
Do you know how you normally use your time throughout the day? There are many different tools and technology available to help, but all you need is pen, paper, and a timer to get started. What does a “typical” day look like at work?
I suggest you use 10-minute segments to evaluate:
- When are you most productive?
- Do you have or a planning system?
- What are the biggest time-wasters?
To maximize your time, you need to better understand the time required to complete “low value tasks” — not important and not urgent — (e.g., checking email), so you can focus most of your time on the “high value tasks” — most important and most urgent.
2. Prioritize Tasks.
Take some time each day — or week — to list what needs to be accomplished. Then, prioritize the list of tasks. What’s the most important and urgent task(s) to do? Write all of it down. Organize it. Focus on doing the “high value tasks” first. Work down the list. You may not be able to do all of it, but you can tackle important / urgent tasks.
3. Schedule Your Day.
Create a schedule each day. Build in some flexible time for disruptions and changes. Schedule your priorities. Tackle prioritized tasks: most important, most difficult, and what may take the most effort. Plan your week day-by-day. And, consider when your attention, drive, and focus are at their peak (AM or PM). Consider blocking out time for your “high value tasks” and do your best to protect that time from all distractions and interruptions.
4. Do. Not. Multi-Task.
Multi-tasking does not save time. When we “switch” tasks, we become less productive. While it may seem like a good idea to work on multiple things at once, it leads to poor concentration, a lack of focus, and to more mistakes. Focus on one task at a time.
5. Minimize Distractions.
Eliminate time-wasting distractions — like checking emails, social media, and phone calls/texts. You can always set aside some specific time to do these things — during lunch or on a break. To maximize time — and to be more productive — you have to minimize distractions. This includes saying “No!” to any additional tasks. Be aware of how much is on already your plate, how long it’s going to take to complete them, and so on, before saying “Yes.”
6. Schedule Breaks.
Incorporate some breaks throughout your day — if possible — to rest your mind and body and refocus when returning to work. The goal is to maximize time, slay tasks, as well as stay focused. If you can schedule 5 minute breaks throughout your busy day, that will help you remain more focused to get more done and maximize your time.
7. Streamline Tasks.
Do you have any processes — or a series of tasks — that need to be done in a specific order, in a specific way, and/or at a specific time? Identify any process that takes a bit more time than is necessary, and tweak it. The goal is a simple: become more efficient. Make the process cleaner, more organized, and more time-efficient.
Identify any tasks that you can delegate to others. There is only so much you can do. Delegating tasks “multiplies” your output. Delegate “low value tasks” — that are not important and not urgent — and focus on “high value tasks” — important and urgent.
9. Use Technology.
Are you using any technology? There is an App (on phone) for just about everything. There are Apps that help: 1) track projects, 2) schedules, 3) tasks, 4) to-do lists, and 5) send you daily reminders. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of and use technology.
10. Get Organized.
Disorganization often leads to poor time management. To maximize your time: de-clutter and get organized. Is your desk or work space/area cluttered or messy? Take some time or get better organized, throw junk away and de-clutter — if you want to become more productive and efficient.
Is your layout at work comfortable and/or functional? Do you have enough storage for all of your materials? Can you quickly and easily find things whenever you need them, or do you constantly have to search things (e.g., paper, pen, and so on)?
The 10 Tips to Maximize Your Time can help you master productivity issues and become more successful. How you learn to manage the tasks and events throughout the day will also help you learn to better protect, use, and budget the most priceless gift and resource that you possess: your time.