Do you want to get a lot done and still have loads of time for personal stuff? You should learn how to manage and organize your time. Apart from giving you room to do more, great time management practices boost your productivity and help you avoid burnout.
According to Gallup, employees are 70% less likely to suffer from burnout if they have enough time to get through all their work.
This article covers different strategies to help you optimize your time in 2022.
1. You Don’t have to Work the Entire Day – Define Your Working Hours
Do you work the regular 9 to 5 or do you work whenever a job pops up?
If you work from an office with defined working hours, then you have your work schedule set out for you.
However, if you telecommute and enjoy flexible hours, you could easily fall into the trap of irregular working hours.
Having a defined work schedule gives your workdays the structure required for productivity. So, define how many hours you’ll work each day and what those hours will be.
If you work from home, assign your work hours to periods when you’re less distracted.
2. Use a Time Management Tracker
Managing your time will be a serious challenge if you don’t know how you spend it. That’s why time trackers are valuable for in-office and remote employers and employees.
A time tracker is designed to monitor and report on how you spend your working hours. It records how long it takes you to complete specific activities and tasks. With this data, you’ll be able to:
- Allocate resources
- Estimate project duration
- Know how many tasks you can complete each day
- Curate a more reasonable and achievable to-do list.
Since clock in and clock out apps monitor billable hours and generate invoices, you’re able to bill clients accurately. This way, you won’t have to waste valuable time writing up your invoices or calculating your next project costs.
3. Leverage Timeboxing
Timeboxing helps you specify the number of hours and minutes you spend on a task. Using your time tracking data, you’ll have an idea about how long you’ll likely take to complete a specific task.
So, after creating your to-do list, allocate that timeframe to the task.
When you box your time, you’re giving yourself less space for interruptions and more reasons to focus. This way, you’re able to get things done without wasting too much time.
4. Consider Time Mapping
A time map shows you a visual overview of your work schedule. It tells you what to do next whenever you complete a task.
When you use a time map, you’ll be significantly reducing decision fatigue.
Decision fatigue is the mental exhaustion of making too many decisions within a short period. And as it turns out, deciding what to do next can drain you mentally.
A time map can contain all your activities, including work and personal engagements and tasks, for a day, week, or month.
You can create the time map on a piece of paper, or spreadsheet, or using a project management tool or calendar.
You can also use color codes to categorize tasks by type, importance, and urgency. This way, you’ll know what you have to do just by glancing over the time map.
5. Forbid Multitasking
There are few things that kill productivity more than multitasking.
You may think that you are doing two things at once whenever you multitask. In reality, you’re just switching between tasks and taking longer than you should complete each.
Also, multitasking reduces your efficiency and dilutes your cognitive function.
A study published by researchers from the University College London and Lingnan University, Hong Kong reported IQ score reduction in participants who multitasked. The reduction was similar to people who stayed up all night.
Another study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance also looked at the effects of task switching. It reported that multitasking reduces efficiency since it takes extra mental effort to switch between tasks.
So, ensure you focus on one task at a time. Thankfully, timeboxing can help with this. Refrain from doing anything else when you’re working on a job. Even emails should have time slots.
6. Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that helps you focus, eliminate procrastination, and take adequate breaks.
It works with 25-minute time cycles followed by 5-minute break intervals.
Here’s how it works:
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and work on a task until the timer goes off.
- Take a 5-minute break, then start your next 25-minute Pomodoro.
- After four pomodoros, take a longer 20- to 25-minute break.
7. Prioritize Your Tasks
Time management is about making the most of the limited time you have. If you’re not efficiently prioritizing your tasks, you’ll end up working the entire day without much success.
Task prioritization is all about doing the right thing at the right time. When you work from home or within an office, it’s easy to get distracted with work that has little meaning to your core project or long-term objective.
To prioritize your tasks, you have to separate important, urgent, and non-critical tasks. To do that, write out your entire tasks for the day or week. Then start identifying the ones that are important and time-sensitive.
There are different techniques that can help you identify different types of tasks and how to tackle them.
The 4D System and Priority Matrix – Time Management
The 4D system categorizes tasks into four groups:
The Priority matrix, also known as the Eisenhower matrix, groups tasks according to priority:
- Important and urgent
- Important and not urgent
- Not important and urgent
- Not important and not urgent
Using both methods, you can easily group tasks according to how you’ll get them done. It should look this way:
- Important and urgent – Do
- Important and not urgent – Defer (Schedule)
- Not important and urgent – Delegate
- Not important and not urgent – Delete
The Pareto Principle
The Pareto Principle was developed by Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, and named after him. It’s also called the law of the vital few or the 80/20 rule.
It stipulates that 20% of input in a given system or situation produces or determines 80% of the required output.
In working terms, 20% of your tasks could affect 80% of your work day’s result. So, you have to find the tasks that fall into that 20% and prioritize them.
Eat the Frog
The eat the frog method involves doing the most pressing and challenging tasks first thing in the morning.
8. Practice Automation
Automation helps remove mundane and repetitive tasks from your schedule, saving you time and stress.
With the right tools, you can automate tasks like email sorting, timesheet and invoice creation, and reminders. If you’re a marketer, you can also automate things like social media posting and site traffic tracking.
Project management tools can also automate workflows for managers so work is handed over to the next person automatically.
Automation doesn’t only free up your schedule but also reduces errors.
9. Break Down Large Tasks
Creating small, manageable tasks out of larger tasks or projects is a time management secret that boosts productivity.
Large tasks can cause a mental drain just by looking at them. But when you break them down into bite-sized pieces, it becomes doable and even exciting.
So, whenever you dread doing a task because of its sheer size, break it down.
If it’s a project, break it down into milestones and independent objectives.
For example, if your project is to increase a site’s traffic by 50% by the end of the week, you can choose to reach 10% of milestones each day. Then, create tasks based on what you need to do to achieve the goal.
If it’s a task, break it down into steps. For example, if one of the tasks you created for the site traffic project is to write a 5,000-word article, you can break it into the following steps and consider them as tasks:
- Brainstorm ideas for the topic
- Draft the article
- Revise the draft
- Edit the article
10. Eliminate Time Wasters
Time wasters are activities that are not related to your core project and consume valuable time. For example, responding to unnecessary emails and attending non-critical meetings can waste precious time.
So, look at your to-do list and cancel items that you consider not critical or related to your work.
You should also make solid plans to stay away from social media and other sites on the internet that often distract you.
11. Find Your Most Productive Hours
Also called golden hours, your productive hours are moments when you are more focused and motivated to work.
While some researchers maintained that the most productive hours are between 9 and 11 am, everyone has different golden hours. Yours can fall within that time frame or some other time during the day – or night.
So, consider using your time-tracking data to discover when you do most of your work. When you identify that pattern, you should allocate all your challenging tasks to your productive hours.
This way, you’ll be able to handle complex tasks efficiently and on time.
Keeping Doing More While Saving Time
Time Management may seem like extra stress on top of the things you already have to juggle. However, practicing the tips in this article will show you that keeping a clean schedule and boosting productivity are possible.