Time management is a priceless skill that everyone needs in order to have a better quality work & social life. At work, one of the business improvement techniques most often used is time and motion analysis to establish where individuals and teams are losing out on their productivity.
In order to be successful, you need to acquire the right time management tools and techniques that will enable you to devote time to every aspect of your life, from being with your family to growing your career or business. So what is the true definition of time management & what tools are out there to help? Read on to find out…
A brief definition of time management
This is the art of planning, organizing, prioritizing and scheduling your errands in order to generate effective output while increasing your productivity. In other words, time management is all about budgeting and getting the best out of your time. Understanding the concept of time management can help you save a lot of precious yet irreplaceable time.
In the workplace it may also incorporate business process modeling to identify bottlenecks in work processes within teams. This type of analysis puts more focus on the effectiveness of resources within a group environment. It should still however consider how product of each individual actually is in your team.
Essentials of time management techniques
Having understood the connection between time management, productivity and success, you need to know the essential elements of this art. Here are six key time management techniques that you need to master.
i. Managing your goals
Goals are crucial in anyone’s life. Without goals, you will wonder aimlessly through life, haunted by the feeling of zero accomplishments. Personal goals will steer you on the right path while focusing your strength on achieving these goals. Thus, at the end of the day, thanks to sound time management tools and techniques, you will have a feeling of accomplishment.
Take for example a new product launch where a variety of resources and activities need to be done in order to successfully complete your new projects delivery. This is one area where having a clear goal, such as sending out e-mails to past customers, creating a large enough quantity of CD copies of your software product or quality testing your product to a certain degree are all fundamental goals.
Some people, or team members, make fair working towards rewards rather than goals. As a manager you will have to establish what types of employee motivation ideas will work best in increasing productivity and performance of team members dependent on if they are goal or reward oriented.
ii. Managing your tasks
Like everyone else, you certainly have some crucial tasks that you have to attend to on a daily basis. Managing such tasks is crucial in ensuring that you do not end up with too many things to do. In addition, task management ensures that you do not forget crucial errands or miss your deadlines.
In team environments it often pays off to use good quality project management software (e.g. MS Project) to manage team tasks. The reason for this is because all team members then have full visibility of the list of dependent activities within your team. It also helps your future planning when looking back at the actual task durations versus what was estimated.
iii. Setting priorities
This is another crucial element that complements time management. Time is limited; thus, you need to set and clear your priorities in an orderly manner. Setting your priorities will draw you closer to accomplishing your daily goals. Prioritizing simply involves identifying what is necessary to accomplish a goal and knowing what to do next.
When looking at the various leadership style inventory types (e.g. micromanagement, laissez-faire, etc.) setting priorities is often a key element of each managers individual style. You should always keep in mind however that the nature of the work being done, it’s level of creativity and the strategic goals should all define how priorities are set.
iv. Utilizing your calendar
A calendar is one of the most crucial tools for time management. You can have either a desk calendar or an electronic one. So as not to miss anything, consider synchronizing your calendars.
v. Procrastination management
At some point, everyone tends to procrastinate, and for some, this is a feeling that is very hard to avoid. However, to be a successful time manager, you must learn to say no to procrastination.
vi. Reminder systems
You need a sound follow-up system lest you forget old projects and tasks. New to-dos come up everyday. Therefore, you need to have a good reminder system in order to manage your tasks.
Best time management tools
Time management is all about deciding what to do, and then doing it within the stipulated time. You cannot change time; however, you can manage it. Everything you decide to do is much easy if you have the right tools. Therefore, you need to find the right time management tools and techniques that will help you manage your errands efficiently. Sucht tools can be either manual or electronic. Whatever tool you choose, it has to be simple, cost-effective and effective.
Here are top time management tools that you can consider:
i. Pen and paper
These are the most common, yet poorly used tools. These tools are handy whenever you want to capture your thoughts, numbers, ideas, addresses and reminders. When selecting your pen and paper, ensure that they are small enough to carry around and sturdy enough to meet all your time management needs.
This diary combines your to-do list with a diary. Thus, you can easily schedule your to-do tasks on a particular date. The greatest benefit of this diary is that you can remind yourself of the tasks that you are supposed to accomplish on a particular day.
iii. Electronic devices
These days, technology has become an integral part of human life. Gadgets like PDA and computers have become crucial for communication, data storage and task and time management. As such, these devices have become effective electronic time management tools for businesses and individuals. Thanks to electronic time management tools, you can easily schedule your tasks, set reminders and meet your deadlines effectively. Better still, you can easily share schedules within your network using these tools.
iv. Online time management tools
There are literally hundreds of free time management tools online that you can use to manage your tasks. Some of these tools are web applications that you can synchronize with your mobile device. One such tool is SMS updating that allows you to create and monitor your tasks via SMS.
Which one you choose really comes down to your own personal preference. Since no money are free you can often test these out for an extended period in order to find one that fits in with your own time management approaches.
To sum up: With the various time management tools available, you just have to do the basic—plan, organize, prioritize and have the self discipline to implement your plans. The key to sound time management is discipline. You need to have the commitment to change, as well as, the need to act. Be sure to figure out exactly what you are doing, what you need to do, and what you should do in an orderly manner. This way, you will be on your pathway to a rewarding and successful life.