Achieving Better Time Management [4 Approaches]

A large analog clock

There never seems to be enough time in the day, does there? Between work and life, requests from others, and your own needs and desires, at times, it can feel impossible to fit everything into 24 hours.

While it’s important to take care of yourself to avoid stress, anxiety, and burnout, there are a few ways that you can reframe your schedule and habits in order to get more done while you’re at work, thus preventing these undesirable outcomes.

That’s what I’ll be talking about today. I’ll give some tips for how you can achieve better time management in order to maximize the time you’re given, while also providing some insight into the importance of not overcommitting yourself.

1. Take the Time to Plan Ahead

Do you feel like you’re completing tasks as they pop into your head and as your boss and colleagues ask you to get them done? While this may be the case some days more than others (and in some professions more than others), having a set schedule before you get to work can help alleviate some of the pressure that comes when unexpected tasks and assignments are handed to you.

This will also help you get more done throughout the day since the chances of you forgetting something are essentially removed. Plus, you won’t have to take time out of your day to think about the things you should be doing; they’re already laid out in front of you.

You may find it helpful to write these tasks out or use a digital planner or calendar, like Google Calendar.

2. Carefully Prioritize Your Tasks

Once you’ve gotten into the habit of planning your days ahead of time, you can start prioritizing the most important tasks and setting goals and deadlines for yourself..

There are many methods for prioritizing certain activities over others. Maybe you’ll identify one incredibly important thing that needs to be worked on when you first start work for the day. Perhaps you’ll take some time to rank each of the things you need to get done based on what needs to be worked on immediately, what can be pushed off for the next few hours, what needs to get done by the end of the week, and what you can remove completely.

You might also schedule a section of the day dedicated to completing tasks that pop up unexpectedly. This space can also be used to finish tasks that took longer than expected.

Consider the time of day when you tend to be most productive, and then consider placing your priority items or harder tasks during this time.

You’ll find the method that works best for you, so don’t be afraid to try a few. Zapier has an article outlining some of the most effective time management prioritization methods.

3. Know When To Delegate

Sometimes, you simply can’t accomplish everything on your to-do list, and that’s perfectly all right. This is the time when it’s important to know how to ask for help, as well as assign tasks to others, if appropriate.

As you’re going through your pre-planned list of tasks, see if there’s anything that one of your team members might be able to help out with or take over completely. Approach that person respectfully and honestly, giving them the full details of the task at hand, what their role will be in the process, and how you can still play a supporting role, if needed.

I want to emphasize the words “supporting role” here. If the other person accepts, they should now have ownership of that task. This shows trust and respect on your part. However, offering to be there as a support is important, especially if the task was originally assigned to you. You received the specifications, so you may be able to provide the best insights into how to get the job done.

4. Make Sure to Give Yourself a Break

Often, the best thing you can do for yourself in the middle of a busy day is to give yourself a rest period. It sounds counterintuitive, but taking a moment to breathe, stretch, and refocus will actually help give you the boost you need to get your tasks done.

Plus, the quality of your work will most likely improve. If you can approach more assignments with a clear, well-rested mind, you’re more apt to perform your best.

Better Time Management vs. Overcommitting

Some days are busier than others and some to-do lists are more extensive depending on what’s happening in your workplace or your life. However, if you find yourself feeling constantly burned out, overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed by all of the things you need to do, you may find that you’ve been overcommitting to certain tasks and assignments. 

Another key sign of overcommitting is feeling like you’re drowning in your list of tasks, unable to appreciate even the smallest accomplishments because the work is never done. Or, perhaps you’re putting your work above your own well-being because you feel like you don’t have enough time to focus on yourself.

When you’re being asked to do something (for example, attend an event, fly across the country to give a presentation, etc.), take an honest look at whether or not doing that thing will add value to your company, your colleagues, and, most importantly, your own well-being. If the answer is no, it’s perfectly fine to say so. It’s also normal to need to take a personal day off from work every now and then in order to recharge, or decline an invitation to go out after work in the interest of getting some exercise and going to bed early.

If you find it difficult to say no to people, begin asking yourself why that is. Take the time to get to know yourself better and what about your personality makes you so eager to please. It can also be helpful to speak to a trained professional, like a counselor or coach, in order to talk this out.

Additionally, if you find that your boss, colleagues, or other people in your life aren’t willing to accept you prioritizing your health, it may be time to remove yourself from that position. There’s nothing wrong with taking time for yourself, especially when it comes to your overall well-being.

Putting It All Together

Knowing how to plan your time in order to best optimize your day is a skill that comes over time. Taking steps toward improvement today will help you grow into the schedule that works best for you as time goes on.

What ways have you tried to manage your time better? If you feel like you or your team could benefit from some training with time management and how to avoid burnout, I would love to chat with you.