How do you get better at managing your time?

How to improve your time management for increased productivity

Productivity in most fields relies heavily on time management. We could do anything if time was infinite – but we live in the real world.

What that means is completing tasks in a finite amount of time, which requires having excellent time management skills.

I'll get to some tips for bettering your time management in due course, but first I think it's important to work out why you might be struggling to get things done on time.

Some common time thieves

Everyone has their own weaknesses when it comes to managing their time, but there are a couple of common culprits. I'd suggest reflecting on your habits to see if any of the following sound familiar.

Procrastination

This might be the most common thing I hear people struggling with in respect to time management. It's way too easy to put off those tasks that you feel are going to to be difficult or boring. Procrastination is anti-productivity and can destroy your ability to get things done.

Do you procrastinate too much around choosing which task to do - or just being distracted?Do you procrastinate too much around choosing which task to do – or just being distracted?

Poor organisational skills

Behind procrastination, being unorganised is the second most common time waster. If too much of your time is spent just getting yourself ready to begin a task because you haven't got things sorted, that's a whole lot of time being eaten up for no good reason.

Three time management tips 

Even if your time management right now is poor, understanding how to improve it isn't difficult. As I mentioned earlier, time management training can help but there are a few tips that you can act on right away:

1. Plan your days

Making a plan for your day is key for being productive. Poor organisation can result in you not knowing what you're doing for the day and wasting too much time between tasks. Take a moment each morning (or at the end of the previous day) to work out what you're doing, and do it.

2. Only check email twice a day

Email can be a particularly strong time thief because, for many of us, it's near infinite. Getting to the fabled 'inbox zero' shouldn't come at the expense of the more important tasks in your day. Having set periods for checking and replying to email is a good way to minimise the time you spend being stuck wading through your inbox.

How much time do you spend over the day checking your inbox?How much time do you spend over the day checking your inbox?

3. Set time limits for tasks

Many tasks don't take as long as you think they will, or at the very least, don't need to. Setting a short and challenging deadline can push you to do things in an amount of time you may have previously thought to be impossible.

I find when you set a deadline (even if it's one just for you), you push yourself to meet it. The reason it's so effective is because artificial deadlines are just that – artificial. If you get to it and decide something needs more work, that's fine – put the extra work in. But I'd hazard a guess to say that you'd have completed more in the face of that looming deadline than you would have if you'd just told yourself you had the actual time available to do the task.

If you'd like to learn more about enhancing your productivity – perhaps by taking one of our management training courses – get in touch with a member of the ICML team today.


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