How to effectively manage time?

Time is a factor that significantly influences the effectiveness of all our actions, not only those related to the functioning of our enterprise, but also those which we carry out at our homes. Lack of time is the reason for flaws in our projects because members of the staff have to work in haste in order to meet some specific deadline. Unfortunately, such an approach usually results in poor outcomes of work and in the dissatisfaction of people who ordered a given project. We have already presented that time is an important factor responsible for the success or failure of our undertakings. In order to manage our time as effectively as possible, we should follow a few useful rules. If we take the suggestions to heart, we will always be able to fulfill our duties and, moreover, we will find some additional time for a well-deserved rest.
Stage one – Proper organization of work
The first step on the way to creating a system of effective management of time is the establishment of a proper organization of everyday work. The aim is to make it more effective. Each day, we have to find the time to fulfill the most urgent and, at the same time, the most important matters. We have to aim at minimizing the amount of time we spend on routine things, like reading e-mails, etc. Thanks to such an approach, every employee will be able to achieve maximum effectiveness, not only at job, but in private life as well.
It is important to emphasize the fact that the organization of work and the management of time have much in common. In short, a good organization of tasks at work creates ideal conditions for effective time management. If we do not properly organize our everyday work, we will soon notice that we lack the time to fulfill every task that we wanted to complete. What is more, such attitude leads to a situation in which every single task takes up more time than it should. In consequence, our effectiveness as an employee is significantly reduced. Even small mistakes in the organization of work can have a decisive and negative impact on our overall effectiveness. One problem leads to another resulting in a flood which cannot be stopped. Lack of work organization leads to chaos, and chaos does not ensure high effectiveness of job related actions. A person who works in such conditions does not know what tasks have to be completed and where to even start; he is unable to identify his priorities; there is chaos in his timetable; he is either wrongly prepared, or unprepared for meetings with clients, and he does not have the time to relax. Such a negative situation has to be avoided. This shows how important it is to properly manage time and, in consequence, work as well.
It has to be stated that bad organization of work has a negative influence on all those who cooperate with us. As a consequence of our negligence, these people also experience problems with time management and their own assignments.
A question arises: how to properly organize our work? It is best to establish a reliable plan of action – and follow it carefully.
Stage two – Plan of action
The establishment of a plan should not be regarded only as the formation of a list of things to do for a given day, week, or month. We also have to think about the order of our actions and the method of verification of our plan. A particularly useful thing that can help us with our plan is a computer application that can be used to implement changes as they occur.
In order to create a plan of our work we have to write down all the tasks we have to complete, including the smallest ones. The next thing is to ascertain how much time is needed for every task and add some extra minutes for unexpected situations. After that, we should carefully identify our priorities – the matters that require our immediate attention. Such a list of priorities is a very important part of effective time management.
Every day, while carrying out our professional duties, we have to take a look at our plan from time to time and analyze it. If some unexpected events occur, we should add them to our list and verify our priorities. Once completed, we can tick a task off the list in order to know what has been completed and what still lies before us. We should choose an appropriate moment for such revisions, and we should make them our habit. A plan of action for today can be written down on a small yellow piece of paper and put on the screen of our monitor or information board. A more modern way is to implement such changes into an appropriate computer application. Such software makes it much easier to make adjustments to a plan and to add new elements.
Stage three – The grouping of tasks
If we have prepared our plan and we know what tasks have to be done, we should organize them into separate groups. Tasks can be assigned to categories labeled “most important”, “important”, and “less important”, and they should be completed in this order. It is worth to emphasize that such division into certain categories is the most important thing in effective time management.
Stage four – Making use of a timetable
A clearly organized timetable is an important tool used in the management of work and, in consequence, time as well. One quick look at it is all we need to recall what meetings await us, who waits for us and where, what offices do we have to visit, etc. It is an outline of our day at work. If we talk about the timetable of a manager, then it is important to note that it should be the same as his or her secretary’s. There should be no discrepancies between the two documents. Even small differences in schedules can influence the effectiveness of work.
When planning a meeting, we should write down a note in our calendar to avoid being late or to avoid forgetting about the event. We have to carefully consider how much time is needed for a given meeting because it can actually take longer. A situation in which meetings overlap must never occur because this, obviously, will lead to serious problems. The method of planning meetings and discussions influences the productivity of a manager or an employee. While planning a meeting, we should consider the following:
• The place of the meeting
• The time the meeting starts
• The duration of the meeting
• The time the meeting ends – theoretically, of course
• Possible difficulties that can influence the time boundaries of the meeting
All of the abovementioned elements have an influence on the whole timetable of a given day. If we have a meeting scheduled for lunch time, we should avoid planning some other discussions before noon, as it could lead to overlapping of the events. In consequence, we could be forced to either finish the first meeting earlier, or to come late for the second one.
Stage five – The organization of the workplace
The surroundings in which we work should make it easy for us to focus on our work. It is important to maintain order on our desk. All documents and papers paper should be grouped and put on the right place. Folders prove to be particularly useful in this – it will be much easier for us to find a particular sheet of paper needed at a given moment. What is more, we will significantly reduce the time needed for searching. Working at a place full of chaos is hardly ever effective, but there are people who claim that it is easier for them to find what they need in a mess. However, this approach is senseless in the long run, especially if our workmates need exactly the same documents. Maintaining order is beneficial not only to every employee, but also to the whole company. Why? Sometimes, in the case of our absence at work, somebody has to take up our duties and sit at our desk. It is best to make everything easier for him beforehand and save his time as well. The absence of an employee, regardless of the reason, must not influence the effectiveness of the whole organization. Summing up, we should at least try to maintain order on our desk.
Stage six – Regularity
Regularity at work positively influences the effectiveness of employees. Moreover, our individual approach to time management should also be regular. Therefore, we have to establish certain habits that will help us become consistent in fulfilling the tasks which we listed in our timetables and plans. The fact that we decided to manage our time effectively does not mean that we will increase our effectiveness. We have to be diligent and regular in our efforts. Otherwise, our whole plan of managing time and work will simply turn out to be ineffective, and we will still be engulfed in chaos. In other words, we will return to the starting point.
It is not necessary to strictly follow our plan. It is acceptable to implement some changes to it, however, we should not ruin its structure without a really good reason.
Stage seven – Check list
For every day, we should prepare the so called ‘check list’. It is a list of things that helps us monitor our work. We can add tasks which need to be fulfilled and tick off those which have already been completed by ourselves or our workmates who work on the same project. It is worth to create a header for every task and document that appears on the list. Such a label will help in quick and easy identification of all the things that have to be done.
When working on time management we have to focus on the results of our actions and their quality. It has to be stated that quality favors effective time management. All of our actions that aim at achieving the best possible results of time managing at work should fulfill certain standards – standards which may require more time to achieve, but the results will be worth the additional effort.
Those who work on time management should leave a certain safety margin just in case. There is always the possibility that something totally unexpected will happen. No matter how much work lies before us, it is imperative that we find some room for breaks and for regenerating. If we find some time for relaxation, we will surely increase our effectiveness.