You know that feeling when you’re sitting at your desk, and there are piles of work staring back at you?
You want to get it done, but the hours fly by, and before you know it, it’s way past dark and time to stop working and go home.
It feels like there are never enough hours in the day. And then all we talk about is how busy we are, that we aren’t doing work that matters, and can’t find any free time for ourselves and life.
As leaders, effective time management and productivity are skills that many struggles with daily. Know you are not alone in this!
Leading a team means you are constantly juggling multiple projects and responsibilities and thinking about many things.
This can lead us all down that spiral of not focusing on what is urgent and instead just getting “stuff” done.
Stuff that is often not quality work that may not even really doesn’t matter at the end of the day. You can easily either get more done in less time or less done in far more time than it’s worth!
As leaders, we need to be productive, control our time, stress and do quality work that makes a difference. We need time management!
Because long term time management issues can really make or break you.
But luckily for us (and our sanity), some effective time management tips may help!
If you struggle with time management and getting those urgent tasks done, here’s to taking control of your time.
Making your days a little less hectic, and the ability to get more things done so you can enjoy life!
The Truth About Time Management Skills
When it comes to managing time and time management skills, there are no set rules, a right way, or perfect tools.
Productivity and time management hacks that work for your friends may not work for you, and that’s OK.
The important thing is to find a system that works for YOU, your work, and your life. The tricky part is figuring out what works best with your business, work style, schedule, life, and work flow.
Take some time today or this week to try something new and reclaim your time! You know how the saying goes: you never know until you try.
Time Management Is A Skill
Time management is a skill, and like all skills you need to learn, it takes practice. You can’t expect to feel like a time management pro after reading one blog article (or two), but you can get some ideas and resources to try out to be more productive.
It’s also important that you don’t stress and get discouraged if your new productivity system, time management skills, and tools don’t seem to be working for you right away. It may take some trial and adjustment before you find the perfect fit!
The Daily To-Do Tasks List
Create weekly and daily to-do and tasks lists that you regularly update to help you prioritize and focus on urgent and important tasks.
If you’re not clear on what needs to get done, it will take longer and more effort to complete tasks, creating more stress.
If you are like most leaders, you have a never-ending to-do list of business and personal tasks that can be overwhelming. So, it’s important to break your list down into manageable chunks by priority.
Here’s an example I use. I take a sticky note and create a daily list of three key priorities/tasks to focus on for the day.
Yes, only three because with all the meetings and distractions on any given day, having more than three gets overwhelming.
If I can manage to complete the three tasks, I feel pretty good and on track. Once I finish those three tasks, I’m free to add more to my list to work on or move on to something else.
The most important thing is that you stay in control of how you spend your time, keep motivated, and stay productive with your goals in sight!
Now that we’ve covered the basics — having a to-do list of tasks, let’s get to the 10 overall strategies and tips for good time management.
10 Good Time Management Tips To Manage Your Time
Consider the following tips while you build your time management skills:
#1 Schedule, close your door, and turn off notifications
If you have important tasks at hand, deadlines to meet, or even personal projects to get done, it’s key that you effectively avoid unnecessary interruptions.
Schedule project time on your calendar like you would a meeting, so this work takes priority. Prioritize this time, keeping it as you would an important business meeting.
If you share a workspace, find a quiet spot. Borrow an office, reserve a conference room, or work from home.
Set all devices like your computer, email, and especially your phone to Do Not Disturb modes. The buzz, bleeps, and notifications from apps that fly in and out constantly on our screens are a BIG distraction keeping us from doing quality work that matters.
Resist the strong urge and pull to “quickly” check social media apps one more time, and then you’ll focus. It’s never a quick check. They are designed not to be quick and keep your eyes on the screen for as much time as it can. It is hurting your productivity.
Turn all notifications off when working on important tasks, projects, and when in meetings. Don’t panic!
Remember, you can always turn them back on when you finish your project. That could even be a personal reward for meeting deadlines and completing specific tasks. More about that coming up.
#2 Have a place for everyday used items
When you get to your workspace or even at home, place items like your keys, glasses, access cards, favorite pen, and wallet in the same place.
The next time you need them, there will be no question about where they are, and you won’t waste precious time searching for them. Also, if possible, keep your desk clean and organized so you can see everything that needs to be done and have the resources ready and available at your fingertips.
#3 Change your behavior
If you’ve identified a specific behavior that’s counterproductive to your time management, be the person who takes steps to guide this behavior as needed to manage time effectively.
For example, if you like to take a long lunch, make it a point to schedule it on your calendar as such. Give yourself the time you need versus being rushed when you return to your tasks and duties because you didn’t give yourself enough time.
Another example maybe you work non-stop. So you may need to start taking time for yourself and unplugging from your phone or computer and taking a walk outside, reading an article, or taking a class to build new or refresh existing skills.
#4 Minimize and organize your documents
Even though a lot of information is digital these days, it doesn’t mean you should keep every email, file, or document on your desktop or open.
Toss or delete what’s unnecessary, organize files in folders, use your calendar, and only keep documents that you’re actively using at your fingertips.
The same goes for open browser tabs. Keep only those open for the project you are currently working on a shut down the rest not to be lured in and distracted.
#5 Estimate your time
Whether you’re doing a work assignment or something fun, plan in advance how long you think the task will take. Be realistic. If you remain aware of the time, you won’t suddenly lose a few hours without realizing it.
A trick I use for time management is setting a timer. Especially for dreaded tasks. I might give myself 30 minutes to spend on a project, so I’ll set the timer for 30 minutes and focus. When time’s up, I know it’s time to work on something else or even just take a break.
#6 Less planning, more action
How often do you find yourself thinking about what you have yet to do? That long list of tasks and to-dos.
Merely thinking about the work won’t get you anywhere. Better time can probably be spent elsewhere, like taking action on more urgent tasks.
Strive to live in the “now” and take action to complete your tasks.
When other things I should or could be doing pop up in my head, I quickly write them down, so I’ve captured the idea. This act allows me to stop thinking about it at that moment with no fear that I’ve lost the thought. Then when I have time, I can come back to it. Often what pops into my head it’s not a priority but a procrastination distraction.
#7 Avoid procrastination
This is a difficult one for most people! When you keep putting something urgent off that you need to accomplish, you tend to spend more time thinking about the fact that you have to do this important task when you could have completed the task already.
Stop finding excuses to avoid the things you actually need to do.
It can be difficult to get started, but you’ll find it much easier to maintain momentum once you do. There’s a good chance you’ll even keep going and achieve more than you planned!
#8 Set goals
Setting goals is an important part of any plan.
When you’re working, it’s far easier to track your progress, manage time, and complete your task more efficiently if you have a specific goal to achieve.
Remember the timer? A timer will help you manage time and focus only on the specific activities of the task at hand.
If something needs to be accomplished, set a timer for how much time is required to complete it or give to it.
That way, if your attention wanders or you start thinking too deeply about other tasks, you’ll have a reminder to stay help you stay on track and focus on your priorities.
#9 Reward yourself
It can be tough to manage your time when you’re struggling with getting tasks done. Try rewarding yourself when you complete an urgent to-do—especially the tasks you’ve been putting off. A reward may be just the thing that will motivate you to get through the more challenging tasks and avoid procrastination.
#10 Take breaks
It’s important to be a focused professional, but you don’t want to overdo it and burn out. Taking mental breaks will boost your productivity because your mind has a chance to reflect, rejuvenate, and repair itself subconsciously. It can also be the space you need to come up with a new idea!
Schedule and prioritize break times to clear your head.
It could even be just standing up and taking a short walk into another room. The physical process of changing your environment and movement may be just what you need to make you feel refreshed, energized, and ready to get back into work.
It may seem like these would just waste time, but they will actually give you more clarity and focus for when it’s time to return to work because your brain has had some downtime.
Final Time Management Advice
The most important thing to remember about good time management is to find something that works for you personally.
Start by paying attention to your habits and decisions to identify better when you feel tempted to waste time and procrastinate.
Just be sure to keep taking steps in the right direction. Keep building your time management skills, and your effort will soon have you conquering the time wasters that have kept you from important tasks and personal and professional success for far too long!
Time is the most valuable resource we have. It’s what allows us to do anything in life, and it can be used wisely or wasted without a second thought.
We all know as leaders that there are so many things going on at any given moment, but when you start managing your time effectively, you’ll find yourself accomplishing more than ever before in even less time!
Knowing how to manage your time is crucial for an effective leader. But time management can feel like an impossible task when there are so many urgent demands on your attention, time, and then there are all the distractions of life, like social media. 🙂
You might not even know where to start building the leadership skills, like time management you need! It’s OK; that’s why I’m here for you with 10 tips for better time management skills for leaders.
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful (learned that I have a thing of sticky notes and setting timers) and that your time management skills have improved.
So what about other leadership and management skills?
The Awesome Leader League can help you develop your leadership skills with even more tips and tricks to help you become more productive, less stressed, and ultimately an awesome boss who people trip over their own feet to follow.
You deserve to be a successful, awesome leader.
We are looking for awesome leaders to join the league. Are you ready? It’s time to take control of your life and lead with confidence. Join us!
Rebecca Morgan, PhD, is an award-winning former Disney leader and founder of The Awesome Leader League (T.A.L.L.), the ultimate collection of leadership skills to help you be a better leader. Without EVER being a soul-sucking “boss-hole.” Join us here.
Get the 5 Secrets To NOT be a BOSSHOLE And What To Do Instead To Be "Bossome"
(Boss who is awesome)
Download the 100% free guide NOW!