From the first time you get a job, it’s
very likely that you’ll hear the words “time management” a lot. Middle-managers
preach it, entrepreneurs swear by it, and some businessmen owe their existence
to it. This article lists tips that will help you manage, if not maximize, your
Use Goal Setting
A good time management strategy is to set
goals. This can be applied to short-term and long-term goals—it doesn’t matter
if it’s set for a day, a month, or a year. A key component to setting a goal is
to be as specific as possible, and to make them realistically attainable. A
vague goal like “earn a million dollars” may have a nice ring to it, but you’ll
soon realize it’s a daunting task and you may be at a loss as to how and where
to begin. To make your goals concrete and reachable, use the SMART method.
SMART stands for:
Specific: Your goal must state exactly what is to be pursued.
Measurable: Your goal must have a yardstick or measurement tool to track
Attainable: Instead of setting a goal that’s too high or vague, your goal
must be something you can actually reach. Setting a number, whether it’s in
dollars and cents, number of hits on your site, or number of customers getting
through your door, makes it realistic. You can be ambitious as to what this is,
as long as it’s within reach.
Relevant: Base your goals on a straightforward, useful metric. The
number of deals closed may not be the best indicator of how close you’ve come
to your goal; maybe actual sales numbers will be more significant.
Time-bound: Your goal has to have a deadline. If you don’t set a
specific time for it to be accomplished, you may be tempted to procrastinate,
and the goal will never be reached.
To avoid tackling different tasks that may
not get you closer to your goal, you must then determine the importance and
urgency of each of them. Make a list of all your tasks, then classify them
according to these groups:
and urgent: Top priority. Get this done right
away and focus on tasks under this category before anything else.
but not urgent: Seemingly important but can be
pushed back further down the road.
but not important: Tasks under this category
can be delegated to other people. Assign this to a subordinate who can handle
important nor urgent: To put bluntly, a waste
of time. Find ways to eliminate things that don’t even qualify to be called
In this age of social media, multiple
communication devices, and other forms of technology, you’d think these would
be the top distractions. Surprise! They’re distractions, but
not the top distraction. The number one distraction in the office is chatty
work colleagues. If you have an “open door” policy, you may need to rethink
this, or firmly specify that your door is open to work-related matters and not
gossip or idle chatter. Save your socializing with officemates to after-office
hours, or during the lunch hour.
Take Time Out
If you’ve successfully eliminated
distractions and didn’t allow unimportant tasks to get in the way of your
workday or workweek, you can and should take time off. Even if you’re on a
business trip, you need to take a break. After all, there are still ways
productive while traveling. Be sure to get enough sleep even if you need to
put in extra hours. The lack of sleep can actually be counter-productive as one study proved.
Keep Track of Time
To see if you’re on track in achieving your
goals, take a step back now and then and check how much time you’re taking to
work on your tasks. This will give you a better idea if you can reach your goal
within your time frame or if you need to streamline your work or put in more
time for certain tasks.
Time management is an invention as old as
the industrial revolution. Antiquated as it may be, it’s still one of the best
ways modern workers can attain their goals and improve their productivity. Many
successful entrepreneurs will attest to the usefulness and relevance of