Top Time Management Tips for Work

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Saphia Lanier
Saphia Lanier

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Managing clients. Sending invoices. Scheduling meetings. Hiring talent. There are a lot of moving parts in running a business. As a small-business owner, you find that wearing multiple hats often becomes the norm. 

tips for time management at work

But if you’re not good at managing your time, you’ll fall prey to wasting hours on mundane tasks, while you could be scaling and innovating your venture. 

Learning good time management habits can get you out of ruts and allow you to remain productive for the long term. 

Benefits of good time management skills

Mastering time management skills keeps entrepreneurs on track for company growth. Without it, you risk creating bottlenecks that slow operations for your employees, hurt customer experiences, and decrease production levels.

A Timewatch survey asked 300 workers about good time management, and it shows:

  • 91% agree it reduces stress at work
  • 90% agree it increased productivity
  • 86% agree it improved focus
  • 74% agree it led to better workplace relationships

Best time management tips for work

Time management is good for business and your well-being — yet in Timewatch’s survey, only 12% of workers have a dedicated time management system. 

Sound like you? Then these time management tips for work may help. 

1. Learn your pattern of productivity 

Some folks are early birds, while others are night owls. But this alone doesn’t determine how to manage your time better. 

If you’re more efficient during short focus sprints, follow the Pomodoro Technique. Or, if you prefer long deep-focus sessions, then set aside enough time when you’re the most productive (e.g., morning, afternoon, or night).

Building your work schedule around your natural patterns will make it easier for you to focus and be more efficient.

2. Use time blocking

Time blocking is when you schedule specific time blocks to work on certain tasks. For instance, if you’re a deep-focus person who’s an early riser, you can schedule the start of your day to tackle high-priority duties for several hours.

Then the rest of your time blocks can be smaller and spread throughout the day until your cutoff time (e.g., 6pm). According to Timewatch’s survey, time blocking is the most common time management system. 

Dr. Kyle Elliott, founder of career coaching agency CaffeinatedKyle, juggles daily client calls, dozens of annual speaking engagements, and multiple columns. So time blocking is critical to managing time and hitting business goals.

“I dedicate Mondays and Fridays to administrative tasks, strategic planning, and long-form writing, and reserve Tuesdays through Thursdays for client calls,” explains Elliott. “Because last-minute calls are inevitable, I also carve out time each day for clients who need my immediate attention.” 

Debora Denyer, executive coach at Coach the Difference LTD, says these tips helped her clients manage busy schedules: 

  • Identify the tasks you must complete and how long each might take
  • Prioritize tasks based on their importance in achieving your goals
  • Identify which tasks are more suited when you’re having an energy lull
  • Schedule time blocks into your calendar (group similar types of tasks together, so your brain isn’t switching between task types)
  • Include blocks for personal tasks, like commuting or school drop-offs
  • Add some “catch up” blocks because sometimes life happens
  • Block time for brain breaks where you get up and make yourself a drink, chat with colleagues, etc.

3. Create a prioritization system 

Some business owners prefer to “swallow the frog,” which means they begin their day with the hardest duties, then the rest of the day is easy sailing. Others prefer to begin with lighter tasks, like invoicing, responding to emails, and having client calls. 

According to Denyer, time management is more of a mindset (not just the tools you use). 

For instance, many like to use to-do lists — but this can be distracting if you have too many items on your list. Sure, checking off boxes is satisfying, but then the unchecked items may stress you out. 

The key is shifting your mindset to an understanding of time and your abilities. Once you set realistic goals, then you can focus on completing the highest-priority tasks instead of overfilling your agenda.

4. Track your activities

One issue people face is correctly assessing how long a task will take to complete.

It’s hard to stick to a schedule if you over- or underestimate time commitments. If the task that was supposed to take 30 minutes took two hours, it may throw off the rest of your day. 

To avoid this slippery slope, take a week to track your activities.

Write down your most common tasks. Use a time-tracking app like Toggl or Clockify to figure out how you’re spending your time, so you can eliminate unnecessary time-gobblers and improve your productivity. 

5. Make collaboration easier

If it’s difficult to assign, track, and collaborate on tasks, then you’ll waste hours playing catch-up and tag with your teammates. Use software tools to make workflows easier for everyone. 

For example, use Slack for faster and more organized messaging vs. emails, and Asana for managing and assigning projects and tasks. This is especially critical if you have cross-department teams working together. 

6. Protect your time

It’s easy to get distracted by desktop and mobile notifications. In Timewatch’s survey, 32% of people say they’re constantly looking at email. Roughly 31% click on their inbox after seeing a notification, and 20% check it hourly.

So your best bet: Schedule hours where you turn notifications off, then plan breaks where you check your important messages. You can also use apps like RescueTime to track your time on social media, email, and other time-sucks. 

Executive coach David Noble suggests thinking of time as something you invest, not spend. It’s a mindset shift that encourages you to focus on using your time for tasks that matter the most.

Here are several tips from Noble to safeguard your time:

  • Don’t exaggerate or underestimate your opportunities and threats. Assess each to see if they’re worth your time and how much of your energy you should dedicate to it. 
  • Cut yourself some slack when something urgent arises and halts your plans temporarily. Your best bet is to plan for them by scheduling times during the day or week to catch up.
  • If you’re leading a big team or organization, ask yourself, “Am I the only one who can do this?” Delegate more and stop micromanaging to free up your time.

7. Use project management software

With project management software like Asana, Jira, and Monday.com, you can streamline your workflow and make cross-team collaboration more fluid. 

It can also be a valuable resource when you feel overwhelmed by your tasks. And it’s useful for individual and group projects. 

8. Establish a routine and stick to it

Humans are creatures of habits and crave consistency. At work, having a routine can help maintain productivity.

Whether going to the office daily or working from home, set a daily routine. Be consistent about the time you wake up and your pre-work tasks, whether it be cooking breakfast or going for a walk. 

This process will get you in the headspace to work once you’re at your desk. 

9. Lean on your team

Delegation is tricky for small-business owners who are used to doing it all themselves. But there comes a time when you need to let go of certain tasks to free your time for more important duties. 

“Leaders need to shift from reactively fighting fires to proactively managing their priorities,” says executive coach Robin Pou. “The best leaders take three actions: They write down their top three priorities daily, delegate wherever possible, and leverage tools for task management to reduce required meetings.”

Pou recently had a client who delegated a meeting to a team member, which saved her three hours. Since it was a recurring weekly meeting, it ended up saving her over 150 hours on an annual basis. 

Now, imagine how much time you could save by delegating five tasks. 

10. Stack your meetings

But what if you can’t delegate meetings to someone else? If you must attend specific meetings, then consider stacking them vs. spreading them out throughout the week. 

For example, combine several meetings into one hourlong session with segments for each topic, team, or issue. 

11. Take accountability

Personal accountability leads to increased feelings of workplace satisfaction, creativity, and innovation. There are a few ways to promote that while working on your long-term project, including:

  • Sharing progress toward goals with others
  • Setting up a personal reward system for each benchmark you achieve
  • Tracking your progress to visualize what portion of your project you’ve completed

Managing your time is a learned skill that requires a lot of discipline and flexibility. It also requires support from your team, as those interactions impact your ability to complete your tasks.

While you may not be an expert time manager today, following these tips will help you improve your process for the long run.

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Topics: Productivity

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