Mastering time management: Tips for making every minute count at work
Indians spend an average of 53 hours working each week, exceeding the globally set work limit of 48 hours, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). With so many hours spent on work, it is essential to manage time effectively.
As a concept, employees are no stranger to time management. Yet, only a few end up mastering it. At its core, time management isn't just about finishing tasks or meeting deadlines. It's about managing your own capabilities, and leveraging it for the best possible outcome.
There were interesting insights from an internal poll we conducted at foundit (formerly Monster APAC & ME). More than 59 per cent employees felt the key to achieving work-life harmony was setting realistic timelines for deliverables at work. Needless to say, developing an effective time management method can help employees get more done and feel less overwhelmed.
Here are five key ways to manage one’s time more effectively.
Plan and prioritise
“Fail to plan and one can plan to fail.”
List down daily tasks and arrange them in the order of priority at the beginning of the day to stay productive at work. At times, the whirlpool of critical tasks can feel overwhelming, but prioritising tasks is the first step to maintaining a work-life balance.
This simple act of visualising your tasks can help diffuse the stress that comes with meeting strict deadlines, and also helps one deliver quality work. Project management apps can be used to organise and track personal tasks, goals, and schedules, with features such as to-do lists, reminders, and calendar.
Set deadlines to alleviate stress
To avoid feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities, it's important to set realistic timelines and time-bound goals. Unrealistic or too-tight deadlines can be detrimental to one’s mental health and may result in burnout.
To minimise stress and anxiety, it can be helpful to tackle more challenging tasks first and then close the day with easier ones. Accounting for additional time when setting deadlines helps too, especially when other unexpected tasks come up that require attention.
Break down big tasks into sizeable ones
Breaking down mammoth tasks into smaller, more manageable to-do's will result in more productive outcomes. This helps focus on the next, smaller step rather than viewing the entire task at once, which can seem mind-boggling.
Doing this will also help you prioritise the most important and time-sensitive components, while improving organisation and tracking progress. By focusing on one sub task at a time, each element receives the necessary attention and detail, leading to a more comprehensive end result.
Short breaks to boost productivity
Working for long stretches without taking any breaks can be detrimental. One can get easily distracted or feel unmotivated. However, taking regular and short breaks can help prevent this from happening, while boosting productivity and improving focus. Stepping away from work for a brief period of time allows the mind and body to rest and recharge. This can help to reduce mental fatigue and increase energy levels to a great extent.
Balance work and life to avoid burnout
Maintain a healthy balance between personal and professional life to lead a stress-free lifestyle. Set clear boundaries between your work and personal life to prevent burnout and ensure time for hobbies. Hobbies can provide a sense of purpose, reduce stress and anxiety, and elevate your mood, leading to improved overall well-being.
Further, leaving work at a reasonable time and avoiding checking work emails or messages outside of work hours can help one maintain work-life equilibrium. It is also important to communicate with superiors when feeling overwhelmed. By having open conversations with managers, solutions can be identified to reduce the workload and prioritise well-being, leading to increased job satisfaction and motivation.
Recent technological advancements have also played a vital role in enhancing employee efficiency, with resources like project management and time-tracking tools. By leveraging such tools, employees can cultivate a positive attitude toward both their personal and professional lives, leading to a more fulfilling and balanced lifestyle.
To conclude, time management is a priceless skill that every professional will benefit from implementing. By inculcating these management tips, one can create an efficient flow of work with more clarity and confidence. This, in turn, will boost productivity, reduce stress levels, and contribute significantly to career growth and development.