How to Improve Your Time Management Skills and Succeed in the Workplace


Organizing your days can seem like a daunting task, especially in these days when there are more distractions than ever before. In 2019, RescueTime, a time management software, analyzed 185 million working hours of anonymized and aggregated data from its users. He found that workers only had an average of two hours and 48 minutes of productive work time per day. Productivity and burnout management consultants say you can make the most of your productive hours by planning your workday in advance.

Sometimes it can start with a small step. “If you want to change the world, start by making your bed,” Retired US Navy Admiral William McRaven said in a keynote address at the University of Texas, Austin. When Admiral McRaven was in Navy SEAL formation, his instructors inspected his bed to make sure it was perfectly made. In the speech, Admiral McRaven says it struck him as ridiculous at first, but eventually learned that completing that first task of the day gave him a “little sense of pride” and encouraged him to keep going and to perform other tasks.

Take a weekly review to find out how to manage your time.

Avoid “scary Sundays” when planning your week. Marie Poulin, workflow consultant, spends time on Sunday evenings planning how she will spend her work week. She uses time blocks in Google Calendar to start by defining what she calls “mind, body” time for personal care. Then she takes time for meetings and other obligations. She also uses a time management strategy called the Pomodoro Technique, which involves breaking projects down into tasks and focusing on them at 25 minute intervals. “I think a productive day always starts with a productive week,” says Poulin.

The planning session doesn’t have to be long, says Khe Hy, founder of RadReads, a newsletter and website that explores productivity, money, and ambition. Ten minutes on a Sunday night could save you hours during the work week.

Try to set an hour-by-hour plan.

You might feel like you are doing a lot of things during the day without getting what you needed to do. To combat this, Laura Mae Martin, Executive Productivity Advisor at Google, writes an hour-by-hour list of how she plans to spend the next day.

She sees this approach as similar to setting an agenda for a meeting: “If you set an agenda for a meeting, everyone is mentally in the right place, they know exactly what you’re going to talk about and the meeting is off to a good start. away and you’re on the subject.

To better manage your time, plan your day around when you work best.

If you work from home, you might have more flexibility in your work hours. You might be able to start your day earlier, but take a break for a mid-morning walk or start later and send emails when you’re most alert in the afternoon. Understanding how your energy comes and goes can help you plan your day for when you are working best, says Martin.

Start each day with a win.

Like Admiral McRaven, Mr. Hy suggests starting your day with an easy victory, like making your bed. “By making your bed, you had a repeatable victory before the rest of the world even opened their laptops,” says Mr. Hy.

If you are in the morning, you can also do a task related to your long-term goals. “Think about working on the most powerful and competent thing you can do at this point in your life for 25 minutes every morning for your entire career. Everything you ever wanted from work, you would have in your life, ”says Mr. Hy.

Start your day on the right foot to get rid of stress.

Before you start responding to emails, try doing a brief check with yourself, explains burnout management coach Emily Ballesteros. She puts on headphones and listens to a catchy song before starting to work to put herself in a good mood.

Increase your productivity by working on the highest priority tasks when you have the energy.

Even though the typical workday lasts eight hours, most people are productive for a fraction of those hours, says Hy. Because he has the most energy in the morning, Mr. Hy says he knows he needs to finish his strategic and creative work before noon. Once you’ve decided what your priorities are for the day, you need to prioritize when you have the most energy, he says.

Work in a sprint.

Find a time that you can work without interruption and stick to it. Ms. Ballesteros works in 50-minute increments and ends in five-minute “energy blocks”. During those short breaks, she recommends having a list of what you want to do so you don’t get carried away by your phone. This could include a snack, a short walk, or a little housework. “Deadlines create urgency, which creates focus,” she says.

Use checklists to better manage your time.

Ms. Ballesteros recommends keeping two lists handy: a to-do list and a distraction list. The to-do list, she says, is there to remind you of your priorities during your work sprints. The distraction list is anything that can take you off the rails, like remembering you need to text your mom or need to buy something at the grocery store. Ms. Ballesteros suggests taking the time at the end of the day to complete the bulk of your distraction list.

Avoid burnout by reminding yourself to stop working.

Without commuting, many Americans work longer hours. You will be more productive and less likely to burn yourself out if you set limits for yourself. At the end of each day, a calendar reminder that says, “Shut up, Marie,” appears on Ms. Poulin’s screen. “It actually tells me this to remind me to get away from the computer,” she said.

  • Software such as Pomodoro, Google Calendar, and Calendly can be used to plan your time.
  • RescueTime can help you track your workload.
  • Trello is a collaborative digital whiteboard that lets remote colleagues organize projects, create to-do lists, and assign tasks.
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