Mastering Time Management Strategies

Get more done with Time Management techniques, which will assist with rework, refine activities and get the project completed on time. Mastering the time management technique in these modern times can be a challenge. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the constant barrage of emails, memos, Slack and Skype messages, and other office distractions.

The most important thing to remember when looking for the best time management strategies is that being organized equates to being productive. If time is an issue, or understanding how to manage time so moving from project to project can be achieved without distraction and loss of productivity, then the strategies mentioned below should be of assistance.

An Organized Task List

The single most powerful thing you can do to better manage your time is to organize your task list. There are several different ways to organize your list.

Organize Tasks by Due Date

This is the most popular way that managers and employees choose to use task management software. Simply add start dates and due dates to each task in your to-do list and sort them by due date. This way, you can see which tasks need to get done today, and which tasks are coming up in the next few days or weeks. 

Organize Tasks by Priority

Some people prefer to work in a less structured way, and using priority levels instead of due dates. With this strategy all you need to do is assign each task on your to-do list a priority (very low, low, medium, high, very high, or critical). You should take care of critical tasks in the beginning of your day, then move on to less pressing tasks after lunch. This strategy is great because once you knock out the critical work in the morning, the rest of the day becomes easy!

Organize Tasks by Progress (with Kanban)

The third way that will help you better manage your time is to organize your work by progress. The simplest way to do this is to open your to-do list in a Kanban board. Now you can see the tasks that are backlogged, in progress, or finished, all on one screen. Organizing by progress is a favourite method for agile teams that want to quickly move on tasks and complete projects efficiently.

Keep Detailed Notes

Nothing slows down your work day like having to stop to figure out where you left off on something from yesterday or last week.

The easiest way to overcome this stop-and-start problem is to keep detailed notes about every task you may be working on. When you are working towards completing a task on your to-do list, leave a note to yourself so you can quickly pick up where you left off. Some examples include:

  • “Emailed Steph, waiting to hear back.”
  • “Ordered supplies, delivery scheduled for next Tuesday.”
  • “Per Jason’s instruction, pausing this task until further notice”.

These little notes to yourself will let you quickly pick up where you left off, saving you precious time throughout the day.

Get Help from Your Team

Sometimes the biggest time waster is our inability to recognize when we should ask for help, instead of taking on every little thing that comes our way.

This can be a hard thing to learn, but saying “no” to a project can be the best thing you can do for your company. If a task comes your way that will require lots of research, Googling, and headaches, stop and think about who might be better suited for this project. It might be as simple as reassigning this task to your co-worker who is more equipped for this type of work.

Additionally, sometimes it’s better to outsource work to a professional outside of your team to get the task finished quickly and professionally. Professional contractors can be expensive, but if they save you your precious time, then the value is worth the cost.

Pivot Quickly / Avoid Commitment Fallacy

Another huge time waster pops up in projects when teams fail to recognize that it might be time to pivot.

There can be a fear in the modern workplace of walking away from failing projects, even when we know they are doomed. This fear is sometimes referred to as the commitment fallacy, where we refuse to walk away from a project because we’ve already put so much work into it. This becomes a problem when teams end up working on tasks in because they are committed, even though it might be better to walk away and work on something else.

To improve your time management skills, you should constantly be asking yourself, “what should I be working on that will have the most impact?” By constantly evaluating and re-evaluating your impact, you will learn to quickly pivot from project to project and avoid wasteful work.

Use the 80/20 Rule

This strategy of constantly evaluating where you can have the most impact is often referred to as the 80/20 Rule. The 80/20 Rule simply states that approximately 80% of your results will come from 20% of the work that you do. Therefore, if you can recognize which 20% of your work has the most impact, you can optimize your work day to get more done and be more productive!

So, there it is, some strategies to assist you manage your time more appropriately to finish the project on time, it’s not easy getting into a mindset of structure if it is not part of your DNA, but it is the best way to organise time. For a more detailed description, there is a Time Management eBook, Time Management Strategies For the Knowledge Worker  which can be downloaded from the Project Management Companion site.

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