Even for the most organized of people, it can be difficult to stay focused in a world of distractions. If you’ve made the transition to working from home and find yourself procrastinating, it might be time to improve your time management. Whether you’re at home or at the office, prioritizing a long list of tasks can be challenging and you might wish you had an extra hour in the day. Fear not, however, here are seven easy tips for effective time management:
Write things down in a planner
Some people prefer to use Outlook or Google Calendar, but if you prefer pen and paper, invest in a new planner. It’s effective to have reminders in front of you at all times. You can write everything in the same planner or notebook, from your work schedule to your grocery list. Keep a written copy of your timetable and break your tasks down into steps.
Set SMART goals
The SMART goals concept is about setting the right objectives. This means ones that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. It’s important to set time limits for your tasks and break them down into measurable chunks. Take into consideration the other people involved as well. You can figure out if your goals are achievable according to the time and resources you’ve got.
Learn to prioritize
If you have too many tasks on your to-do list, you’re going to need to learn to prioritize. You could try using the Eisenhower Matrix, which teaches you how to categorize tasks into urgent, not urgent, important, and not important. You can organize your tasks into things that need to be done today, things that need to be done this week but prioritized, and so on. Other people organize tasks according to the time it takes to do them and the people involved.
Consider different working patterns
If you’re having trouble managing your time in your current working hours you could consider something different. There are advantages and disadvantages of a rotating shift, for example. You could speak to your boss about the possibility of flexible hours or different working patterns. If you work for yourself, you could stick to the times of day you’re most productive. If you’re not a morning person, run errands before you start work instead. Try to find the time of day when you work best.
Take short regular breaks
Regardless of your working hours, you should be taking enough breaks. Studies have shown that frequent short breaks are more effective and that workers return more energized than after longer breaks. Plan your breaks in between tasks and try to stick to this. If you include breaks as part of your schedule you’ll find it easier to manage your day. If you’re working from home, plan your lunches as well. Have food prepared or at least what you’re going to eat in mind so that you’re able to stick to your break schedule.
Reward your achievements
If you manage to break down your day into tasks and your tasks into steps you can reward yourself at each little milestone. Try to maintain a positive attitude and celebrate what you’ve already achieved rather than stressing about the task ahead of you. As a reward system, you could simply enjoy the satisfaction you get from ticking off items on your to-do list. This is why it’s more fun to have one written down. You could otherwise take breaks in between tasks, get a coffee or a snack, or however you prefer to give yourself a little treat.
It’s challenging when you have new tasks thrown at you on a daily basis but if you get used to planning ahead, it will be easier. Rather than just thinking about your daily schedule, plan your week and tomorrow today. You don’t need to have an exact plan, just a rough idea. This will at least help you to relax in your free time and you’ll sleep better at night. It’s likely you’ll make some changes to the timetable you prepared yesterday, but it’s nice to have it ready. Add any meetings and deadlines to your calendar as soon as you find about them, so you can plan your time in advance.
Time management is a useful skill to develop as it helps you adapt to new situations. If you learn to prioritize your own tasks effectively you’ll go far. It’s a quality many employers look for and helps you stay organized in your own life as well.