Tips for Excellent Time Management at Work

Excellent time management at work is crucial for getting things done. Are you hard-working and motivated but feel overwhelmed and over-worked?  One of the common laments I hear in the workplace is "I don't have enough hours in the day to do what I have to do!"

But getting more things done does not have to come at the expense of your life outside of work. You don't have to put your hobbies, health, or family on the backburner to get more done.

Many The gap between what we need to do and the amount of time we have is negotiated on a daily basis. The more able you are to manage your time to ensure that you get your high impact activities done, the more likely you are to achieve career success.

Here are some time management strategies that my clients have found useful to improve their time management at work.

Improve time management at work by increasing efficiency

According to an Ernst and Young survey, 66% of corporate strategy is never executed. One of the reasons is that often what is happening at the coal-face - the daily activities of employees - is not aligned with the goals of the individual, division, or the company.

Many time management consultants and effectiveness experts suggest you set career goals and develop a plan of where you are going.

Don't get me wrong - this is critically important! But you have a customer demanding your attention NOW, your boss wants yesterday's report, and your spouse complaining about the long hours you are putting in. It can be difficult to set goals if you are struggling to keep your head above water!

That's why it is often good to get some quick wins on the board etting efficient first and developing good work-flow practices can be a good way improve time management at work. These involve:

Increase your organization skills.

The old adage "a place for everything and everything in its place" still applies. Surveys suggest that the average worker spends 15-45 minutes a day looking for things. This translates into 2-6 weeks of time that is spent searching for documents they have in their email, filing cabinets, or in their folders on the computer. You can reduce this 2-6 week search time with the following office organization tips:

  • Organize files in a way that you can find things. These files need to be organized in a way that is meaningful to you and your job role. Here are some tips on how to organize your files.
  • Treat your desk as prime real estate. A functional desk reduces distractions and time searching for documents. Here are some tips on how to organize your desk to boost your time management in the workplace.
  • Improve your home office organization. Working from home and telecommuting are becoming increasingly popular. But it is important to get your work environment right. Here are some tips for organizing your home office.

Manage and reduce distractions.

Good time management at work is also about reducing interruptions and distractions. Open plan offices are a breeding ground for distractions - colleagues, telephone calls, email alerts....

Did you know that according to a survey conducted in 2005 "The Cost of Not Paying Attention: How Interruptions Impact Knowledge Worker Productivity," that interruptions took up 28 percent of knowledge workers time?

Distractions and interruptions pull your focus from your top priorities - which means more late nights and poorer work-life balance.

Probably the biggest distraction is email!  Email has the potential to dwarf other forms of business communication - with the average worker reading and responding to email over 2 hours per day.While email is a great productivity tool, used incorrectly, it saps your productivity.

Did you know that an analysis of 500,000 PC hours illustrates that the average worker accesses their email over 50 times a day? This is a big distraction from the top priorities that you are working on - as each time you check your email it taks several minutes to refocus on what you were doing.

These tips on email management, whether you use Gmail, Outlook, Lotus Notes, or Groupwise will improve your time management in the workplace.

Leverage your time management at work with effective practices

The above strategies are some of those which boost efficiency. Efficiency can improve time management in the workplace! But efficiency by itself is like climbing a ladder, only to reach the top and realize that the ladder is leaning up against the wrong building.

This is why effectiveness is important. Effectiveness ensures that you are focusing your time and attention on the right things.

Focusing on the right things

Some simple questions to start with are:

Do you know your job role? Do you know how your manager is measuring your performance?

This is importance for two reasons:

  1. You know what your high impact activities are in your key result areas.
  2. You know your job objectives and can validate incoming information and tasks against those objectives

This gives you the power decide, and possibly say no to tasks that have little priority. You can build your priority system on three things:

  1. Know what your key result areas or goals are.
  2. Use the Pareto principle to prioritize your tasks based on point 1 above.
  3. Write down a plan or schedule, to ensure that you get your top priorities done.

This alone can improve your time management in the workplace. But once you have a plan it is important to protect these spots in your calendar in advance with a weekly planner tool.

With planning and scheduling taken care of you go along way to moving out of a reactive mindset into a high performance mindset. However, procrastination can still be a major speed hump on your path to focusing on your priorities and achieving your goals.

Don't be afraid to delegate (at home and work)

Are you carrying more than the load of one person? If you have too much to do and not enough time then delegating work and tasks will help you to focus on your top priorities.

If done poorly, delegation can reduce worker morale, increase stress, and increase absenteeism. If done well, delegation can be a training opportunity for staff and increase your time management at work. Here are some steps on how to delegate effectively.

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