Kill your to-do list! 10 Time management tips that really work

by Gregory Lambelin on Apr 22, 2015 9:54:45 PM

 Somehow it got to be the end of your workday, and your to-do list is still ten items deep. Did you cross anything off it today? Did it get longer?How does that happen? 
This happens to the best of us, and all it takes is a little time management and organization to get back on track. So here are a few tips to help you do more in less time:

  1. Make a list: By far, the easiest way to effectively get stuff done is make a list. Once you see in black and white what has to be done, there’s a level of accountability there. There’s also a known quantity, and you eliminate that foreboding feeling of being busy, but not knowing where it ends. It also gives you the satisfaction of checking items off the list as you complete tasks. This helps your morale and feelings of accomplishment, which ultimately will help you be more effective at the rest of your tasks. It’s win, win!
  2. Set goals: Setting goals will help give you something to reach for. Whether  you set smaller daily goals, or larger monthly goals, or both, having things in place for you to achieve helps create a clear path for your work. That way, you can say to yourself, by Friday I need to have completed this stage of this project. But, make sure your goals are attainable.
  3. Attainable goals: So, we’ve established setting goals is essential, but make sure you set attainable goals. Setting the bar too high will only discourage you when you don’t accomplish what you meant to. Take into account all the work that needs to be done, how much help you have, what your team is capable of, holidays or vacations planned, and even emergency scenarios before setting your deadlines and goals. Make sure to push yourself and your team, to achieve that strong sense of accomplishment, but also don’t push to far, or it will backfire. With some careful planning and a little trial and error, you will be able to set reachable goals for yourself and your team.
  4. Prioritize: Ok, so you have your attainable goals. Are there a lot of them?Good. Now you need to decide which goals are the most important, so you can do them in the most effective order. If one client doesn’t need his job done for two weeks, don’t put his stuff ahead of a rush job. You’ll end up making both clients mad. Or maybe it’s not about deadline, but rather importance of the goal. Does one goal have a larger impact on the overall project? Perhaps do that first, then the smaller goals will fall into place easier. Regardless of your specific needs, prioritizing will help give you a clear picture of what needs to be done when.
  5. Eliminate distractions: Distractions can be a huge time suck when it comes to accomplishing your goals. Some are legitimate. Things like phone calls, meetings, team members who need help, the list goes on and on. So, how can you eliminate these distractions? Try working in smaller bites. Maybe turn off your phone and messenger on your computer for fifteen minutes. Close your office door and work. Do this in frequent increments, or maybe even longer chunks if you can. You’d be surprised how much you can get done in a distraction free environment.
  6. Don’t procrastinate: We all have things we don’t want to do. And it could be for any number of reasons. You may love your job, but had a busy weekend and are tired, and would really rather be sleeping right now rather than working on this deadline. But procrastinating is the ultimate waste of time. You say your only going to play this game for five minutes, then get to work, and before you know it, an hour has gone by, and you’ve done nothing. Stay off Facebook, put your cell phone away, turn off YouTube and get to work. The faster you do, the faster you’ll be done and can relax.
  7. Know your limits: Much like setting attainable goals, knowing your limits is vital to successful time management strategies. Say you’ve set all your goals, and you’re clicking away. But, one of your colleges from another team approaches and needs help achieving their own goals. Make sure you can handle the extra workload without impacting your own projects before you say yes. Saying no may be difficult for some people, but you won’t be any help to your peer if you take on too much. Doing that has an odd way of making it so you don’t accomplish anything.
  8. Delegate: When it comes to time management, you are not an island. Give things that would be better handled by someone else to them. Let go of that control, and you’ll find it much easier to accomplish the things only you can do.
  9. Take a break: This may seem counter productive when we’re talking about time management, but hear me out. Taking breaks can help refresh your mind, and give you a sort of reboot, so that you come back to the task at hand ready to work, instead of feeling bogged down. Think about sitting at your desk for four hours, how exhausted you can be by the end of that stretch. But, if you get up for even five minutes, walk around, think about something else, you will be a more effective worker when you sit back down. Just make sure not to spend too much time away from your desk. Then you’ll end up sucked in to procrastination, and we already talked about what a dangerous time suck that is.
  10. Use a clock: This is going to sound dumb, but having a clock within your line of sight can be a valuable tool for managing your time effectively. If you set goals, like I want to have this many emails answered in the next thirty minutes, it can really help push you to ignore distractions, and make the task at hand your number one priority. So, now that you have some tools at your disposal, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to reclaim your day, and work more effectively. Who doesn’t want to do more in less time? Now, get to work!