A Smarter Approach to Time Management

You aren’t alone in struggling to balance the demands of work with personal satisfaction. Millions of people around the world are faced with similar challenges, and while technology has made many tasks easier to complete, it has done little to reduce the volume of tasks we encounter daily.

Time-management is not so much about managing your time as it is about managing yourself. The only way to achieve your goals in a fast evolving world is to remain flexible, and constantly revise your schedule and priorities.

What can you do in your personal capacity to maximize your output while still having time and energy left for yourself and your family?

Keep Work and Personal Communication Separate

It is vitally important to work regular office hours, even if you are based at home. Reinforce this idea by not mixing your personal life with your business life. Only read and respond to business email during office hours, and keep personal phone calls to an absolute minimum if you can’t avoid them completely.

Phone calls can easily be filtered using caller ID in combination with an answering service, and if you only use one computer for both personal and business purposes, install a separate email client for managing your personal email.

Manage Paperwork

We aren’t nearly as efficient as managing paperwork as we should be. Instead of allowing documents, bills and notes to accumulate across your desk and office, process them as quickly as possible. Have a designated home for all paperwork that still needs to be processed, and have scheduled times when you actually process it. Once completed file the important documents and dispose of everything else.

Create a Quiet Space

There will always be times when you need to concentrate, with little to no interruptions. It may be a complex project, or a complicated document that demands close scrutiny, but whatever it is, you need to have a quiet space you can retreat to. It could be your office, with the door closed and locked, and the phone silenced, or it could be the local library, but you need to know in advance where you can retreat whenever necessary.

Escape From the Office

You need to take regular breaks, even on extremely busy days. They don’t need to be long breaks, but they must be away from the office. Get into the habit of eating your lunch in a nearby park, or simply going for a 20-minute walk outside. These short breaks can leave you feeling refreshed and more focused for the rest of the day, allowing you to accomplish more each day.

Stay on Task

Structure your to-do list in such a way that you always complete one task or project before moving onto the next one. You accomplish less when trying to manage too many tasks at once, and while it might be tempting to jump onto a new ‘urgent’ task before completing what you are currently involved in, it would be a mistake. Regaining momentum on interrupted projects takes time, delaying the entire process.

Schedule Correctly

Don’t only get into the habit of scheduling everything, learn to also schedule correctly. Allocate a reasonable amount of time to each task, and remember to add time for things like travel, printing, even phone calls, that all go into completing certain projects. If you are expecting to run a few personal errands on certain days, include these in your schedule as they will impact on your time.

There is no way to add more time to your day, but you can work more efficiently with the time you have. Working better with your time at work can free you up to guiltlessly spend more time with your family, or just relaxing. Isn’t that what we all want?

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