Time-Management Skills for Business, School, and Beyond!
Even from a young age, practicing good time-management skills has major benefits. You’ll find yourself more prepared to take on more responsibilities, balance work with family time and personal time, and feel more relaxed and prepared for whatever’s thrown at you. Whether you’re a student trying to form good habits or an adult with more responsibilities than hours in the day, good time-management skills can lead you to success.
Time Management for Business Professionals
1. Bite-Sized Tasks
A large project can often seem like a mountain that’s overwhelming in its scope. Break it down into small, bite-sized pieces that can be finished in a few hours or a few days. Not only are you essentially planning the entire project, but each small task seems manageable, so it’s easier to get started.
By choosing which projects and tasks are most critical and which ones will have the biggest impact, the most important things can get done while the less important ones will be filled in when there’s time. It’s also important to de-prioritize your emails and phone notifications: Constantly checking notifications throughout the day will slow down your work and make you less effective. Instead, schedule a specific time to read and respond to messages.
3. Clear Your Workspace
If your workspace isn’t clean, you won’t have space to spread out the work you need to do, and the mess will distract you from your work. Decluttering and cleaning your workspace is a great way to reset your mind at the same time. By the time you’re done, you’ll be ready to tackle the work!
Plan your upcoming day the night before. When you wake up in the morning, you’ll be ready to go without spending precious productive time figuring out what order to do things in! Make sure to estimate the time you think each task will take. If things change during the day, make sure to update the plan accordingly so you’re not panicking about what you can fit in.
“Flow” is an incredibly important concept in time management. If you get interrupted often, you’re less productive, as you’re breaking the flow. Don’t be afraid to put up a “do not disturb” sign (or the digital equivalent) to protect that flow.
Sometimes, no matter how well you plan, you just have more to do in a workday than you have time for. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help; not only will it help you with your time management, but it may help a colleague to develop a new skill.
Use an actual pen-and-paper planner. While you should definitely keep a digital record of your plans, writing by hand boosts memory and gives you time to think and reflect. Not only will it help you manage your projects, but you’ll remember better and can always have it handy.
Spend some time each day considering what worked and what didn’t. Maybe all of your time estimates were off, or maybe you said yes when you should’ve said no. This self-feedback is essential to your future plans.
Time Management for Students
Don’t let your homework pile up in the bottom of a backpack or locker. It will get lost. If you make sure to organize, you’ll always have the tools and work you need at your fingertips.
To-do lists are magical. Crossing out an item is very satisfying, and organizing your day or week into a list makes it easy to take it one step at a time. Watching the list go from untouched to complete is a great feeling.
4. Make a Plan
Write down what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it, and then stick to it. That’s easier said than done, but it’s the core of all planning. This includes time to relax and check social media and texts. That way, you won’t distract yourself or lose track of what you need to do by the end of the day.
What’s due tomorrow? What’s due next week? Make sure you’re working on the most important task first, so nothing gets pushed to the last second. Don’t waste a lot of time on a small task with no due date when you have a giant project due next week.
Set aside time just for studying. Eliminate distractions, find a quiet place, and don’t let anything interrupt. Sticking to a schedule will help you avoid pitfalls like time-wasters eating into your essential study time.
7. Create a Time Budget
Break your day down into how much time you spend at school, doing chores, with family, or on any other activities. Once you know how much time you spend, you know your free time and can manage your schedule effectively. Some of that free time should be set aside for your studies, but not all of it.
8. Find Your Time Zone
Every student learns best at a different time of day. Figure out if you’re an early riser or a night owl, and set your studying time to your most productive hours. Maybe waking up early and doing work before class is ideal for you, or maybe you should burn the midnight oil.
Some activities are total time-sucks, like going on social media, surfing the Internet, and watching TV. Before you know it, you’ve spent hours doing nothing. Be very aware of how much time you spend on those activities, and don’t let it get away from you. If you have this time built into your schedule, set an alarm so you don’t overindulge.
10. Use Downtime to Your Advantage
Keep something handy to work on when you have a little bit of free time. You might read a book, do some flashcards, or check up on your plan for the day.