Time Management Strategies and Tools
One of the underrated skills that we all must learn is time management.
Time is to man one of the most precious things in the universe, so one must dearly cherish it.
One of my favorite proverbs is “time and tide wait for no man.”
That is absolutely true because time keeps moving no matter what we do.
There is no pause, rewind or fast forward buttons.
We have to work with what we got, 24 hours per day, 7 days a week and make the best out of it.
Wasted time cannot be regained.
Therefore, it is important to learn how to manage your time, to achieve your goals and meet your deadlines.
We value time simply because we feel we don’t have enough of it or control over it.
People always value what is in scarcity or what is in limited supply.
Have we Paid attention to our Time?
Many people underestimate the value of time.
You will find many teenagers wasting precious hours on video games rather placing stepping stones for their amazing future that awaits them.
Truth to be told, no set of individuals in all the world hold time in greater esteem than working professionals.
Working individuals can be laborers on an hourly wage payroll or CEO who each minute of their time is worth billions.
The outcome of how they spend those minutes determines how much they yield.
Working professionals are on a daily basis assigned with a gazillion of tasks they’re expected to complete in a short time.
Many fail to meet deadlines as a result of poor time management skills and they suffer its consequences.
Therefore, it is important to learn some time management tricks that you can deploy to make the best of your time.
In this article, you’ll learn effective time management tools and strategies you can employ to increase your productivity in the workplace.
Effective Time Management Tools
The following tools facilitate the process of time management for working professionals.
Project managers can also utilize any of these tools to create, supervise and regulate project schedules:
1.Schedule Network Analysis
This tool shows users a graphical representation of project schedules.
Studies show that graphical representations are easier to comprehend and remember.
Some people are under the impression that they have a lot of time.
However, when start and finish dates are laid out in front of them, it is easier to visualize how much time they actually have.
This tool is useful in determining early and late start dates of projects, as well as early and late finish dates.
That way, you can visualize all the possible options for start and finish dates.
It is also a great tool for prioritizing tasks as it helps arrange tasks in a chronological manner.
That way, you can focus on tasks that have an earlier deadline or shortest overall duration.
You can also get to monitor the progress of projects with this tool.
To sum it all up, this tool provides such functions as activity sequencing, project length, completion date and critical path.
It also provides Lead times, Graphical representation of the project, Possible slippage, Possible what-if analysis and Schedule crashing analysis.
That way, you can view a very practical analysis of how time should be spent and planned for each project.
PERT stands for Program Evaluation Review Technique and is appropriate for time management, project planning, and control.
It is basically a chart employed by firms to schedule projects and analyze the various tasks in a project.
PERT also functions as a tool to weigh and calculate the amount of time needed to execute a task within deadlines.
In order to get the best out of a PERT plan, it is imperative to keep to the following steps:
- Identify tasks unique to a certain project.
- Analyze tasks, placing each in a proper sequence.
- Use a Network diagram illustrating project tasks and the sequence they are to be completed in.
- Give each task within a project a time estimate.
- Come up with a critical path estimate after ascertaining the total time required to execute a project.
This is an effective time management software that lets you manage your work time and business from one place.
This is one tool that working professionals can utilize as it provides all that one needs for effective time management in a workplace.
One amazing feature of this tool is that it synthesizes project management, time tracking and CRM together.
What this implies is that you get so much done on a single platform instead of using multiple platforms.
Other functions and features of this tool are:
- It allows you transfer into an invoice the hours gotten from tracking both billable time and non-billable time.
- You can set priorities and fix deadlines.
- It allows for the easy communication between members of a work team.
- Tasks can easily be delegated.
- It allows you manage time and work activities with an endless number of tasks and projects.
Has your team been failing to meet deadlines or effectively execute tasks?
If yes, then TRELLO is just what you need as it helps you make quick progress on projects.
This is another tool for time management that lets you track time and manage simple tasks on a cardboard-like interface.
Functions and Features of this tool include:
- It helps you discover how much time you spend on each task.
- Allows for easy communication between employer and employees in the course of executing a project.
- Tasks can easily be delegated to the appropriate individuals or team
- It lets project managers organize projects and set a due date for tasks.
- As an employee, all new tasks enter your workflow through the TRELLO inbox.
- It helps you plan the activities of your day, create to do lists and set priorities.
- User Friendly interface
5.Action Priority Matrix
This is one of the most effective time management tools that working professionals can use to their advantage.
Action priority matrix is a strategy that has been developed into online tools that you can easily use.
We all have projects on our hands but these tasks don’t all share the same level of importance.
With Action Priority Matrix, you get the chance to choose which activity to invest the most time and attention on.
This saves you from wasting precious time on low yield projects.
There are four categories of the tool namely: Quick Wins; Major Projects; Fill Ins and Thankless Tasks.
Quick Wins are the best projects to focus more on as they require low effort but yet result in high impact.
They are considered important tasks, rather than urgent.
Major Projects are tasks that also yield high impact but unlike Quick Wins require high effort.
Fill Ins and Thankless Tasks are the worst projects to invest your time on as they both result in low impact.
Getting the best out of this tool requires that you:
- Put down the tasks you wish to undertake.
- Score each of them based on their impact.
- Arrange the tasks on the tool based on their scores under each category.
- This is the point where you prioritize each of the tasks.
Effective Time Management Strategies
You can play a video game, facing things as they come up.
On the other hand, you can strategize your approach to make the best out of your time.
Time management is no different.
You need to plan a strategy in addition to using one of the above tools to help you manage your time.
Strategies for time management are directives that help you achieve better results in a workplace during a short space of time.
These strategies shouldn’t be taken lightly, as they have a capacity to increase your work productivity by 100%
1.Identify What Time Management Tool Works for You
In the sea of time management tools, not every tool therein is appropriate for you and your needs.
It is important to discover which of the many time management tools helps you achieve the most.
For most individuals, a simple “to do list” will work just fine, while for others more sophisticated tools are needed.
The magnitude of the project is another factor to consider when choosing an ideal tool to work with.
Such time management tools as Action Priority Matrix and Trello are appropriate for just anyone.
This is because they are based on the core concept of time management prioritization.
It is important to lay out and divide your project into tasks then arrange them based on urgency and importance.
On the other hand, tools like PERT and Schedule Network Analysis are appropriate for project managers.
That is because they are oriented at supervising tasks and time invested in projects as well as tracking progress.
2.Endeavor to Kick off Your Day with the Most Vital Tasks
Mark Twain had an awesome principle that he called “Eat the frogs.”
He said, if you start your day by eating a frog, you will not face something worse in your day.
In other words, he urged people to start with the hardest task first.
That way, the remaining tasks spread out through the day would seem relatively easier.
Time management is basically about prioritizing your tasks and having the most important task receive the most attention.
In that vein, the most strenuous task in each day should be what you start your day with.
Doing otherwise would have you achieving less every day.
That is because your resistance increases as your day progress.
The more resistance you have, the harder it will be to overcome and tackle hard tasks.
People tend to feel refreshed and have clearer heads in the morning, so make the most of that moment.
However, that is not always the case.
Some people are night owls rather than early birds.
Find out your peak optimum brain activity and work at that time for stronger results.
You will achieve more if you work when you feel fresh.
However, don’t fall into the trap of waiting for the perfect conditions in order for you to be able to start working.
3.Invest More Time on High Rewarding Tasks
This is exactly what the time management tool, Action Priority Matrix helps you achieve.
Pure wisdom requires you to focus more on those tasks that lets you achieve more with very little effort.
The basic priority matrix categories were:
- urgent and important (example: delayed assignment due tonight )
- urgent and not important ( example: replying to alumni invitation emails)
- non urgent but important ( example: cooking or assignment due next month )
- non urgent and not important (example: browsing on social media)
From the above criteria, you can guess which category of tasks to focus on.
You should not spend most of your time working on non urgent but important tasks.
If you keep most of your tasks delayed, you will have a lot of urgent tasks.
It’s very stressful to have a lot of urgent tasks on your plate.
Similarly, you should not spend most of your time on non urgent and not important tasks because they do not have any value to your personal goals
You should ask yourself the following questions in order to determine what task to focus on first.
- What is most expected of me by my team or client?
- Which task if done will make the most impact in the workplace?
- What task if left undone will get me in the most trouble in the workplace?
As much as you wish to do things in the short time available, it is important that you take regular breaks.
We function appropriately only when we couple our work with rest.
Overworking your body and mind while trying to be productive will only bring about the unfavorable.
Having a break down of the body system due to work overload will be detrimental to you and your project.
If you take on a lot of tasks, getting burnt is a common thing that you must experience.
When you get burnt you will not be able to focus your energy on more work due to depleting your energy.
So get rest in between work periods, to stay healthy enough to carry out and complete your projects.
5.Avoid Every Form of Distraction
Distraction is one of the top factors that bring about unproductivity in workplaces.
Your brain functions better in a focused flow state.
Interruptions are a huge enemy to your productivity.
That is because of switching between tasks breaks your focus and therefore, you take a little bit of time to orient yourself again.
Social media can easily distract you and suck you into its never-ending trends.
There are tons of notifications and trends to follow up.
Developers designed Social media websites to keep you hooked on for hours.
It has become an obsession, not for teens alone, but adults as well, as they are also a prey.
As a working professional, in order to make the most of your time, it is important to get rid of any such distractions.
You can do this by putting your phone device on silent until after work.
There are apps that can help lock your phone and reward you for not using it.
You can utilize such tools as FocusScheduler to impair the function of certain apps for a certain period of time.
Another app called “Forest: Stay focused” is a great app (click here).
It gives you a tree every time you stick away from your phone due to the allocated time.
Eventually, your forest would be as beautiful as how much dedicated you were.
Another thing is that you need to keep everything you need close by.
That includes water, snacks, pens and papers, calculators, etc.
Getting up to get what you need is a form of distraction and makes you liable to more distractions.
6.Learn to Say No
Some people feel it is wrong to say no.
But saying yes to everything can stretch you beyond your limits.
Taking on extra tasks burns you out.
Moreover, it takes from your own time to do tasks that serve you and your goals.
It is fine to offer to help others, but make sure you are not piling tasks on yourself.
Provided you use these time management strategies, people will understand when you have a lot on your plate.
I hope you enjoyed and benefited from this article.