The time is right: how to use your hours wisely

Here are some top tips for boosting your time management skills in 2017: 

Keep a to-do list

One of the biggest causes of anxiety at work is a lack of organisation and self-management. Counteract this by keeping a prioritised to-do list.

But beware: this does not mean simply scribbling down what you might be doing that week on a post it note stuck to your computer screen. 

To manage your time effectively and productively whilst minimising stress, you need to have a clear, well-structured to-do list. The list needs to note each of your activities in order of importance and urgency, then detail how you will approach each task. 

For example, if you have a client report to complete by tomorrow, break your time down into actions, so it’s not simply one, potentially onerous looming task. It’s much easier to tackle things in small chunks. Write down what you need to do in order to complete the report; what information do you need? Who do you need to contact? Which colleagues can you get support from? Once you’ve broken the task down you can put this at the top of your daily priority list and get started. 

There are lots of online tools and apps that are worth exploring, including Evernote and Bullet Journal. But don’t overlook tools such as Microsoft Outlook’s daily task schedule and calendar, or Google’s equivalent – especially as they probably seamlessly integrate with your email.

Of course, the tried and trusted physical diary is always a great way of keeping track of your working week, and allows you to quickly jot down ideas as and when you need. But don’t forget to categorise according to importance and urgency.

Prioritising 

Even with a prioritised to-do list, work life is unpredictable, and on a daily basis new tasks and events will come our way. The key is learning how to manage and prioritise these in real time.

In our example, you could be right in the middle of creating the report when one of your team comes to you with a crisis. You need to be able to assess the level of the crisis and decide whether it needs to be addressed immediately, or whether it can wait until you have finished the report.

Even better, can it be delegated to a member of your team? Sometimes the best course of action is to trust the ability of the team around you and brief it in well to a colleague.

Kicking back

One common reason why people become swamped under a mountain of work and can become stressed is an inability to say no. It’s natural to want to be involved and put yourself forward to help - but it can be counterproductive if you end up doing things badly or not at all.

Taking on too much work can all too often lead to poor performance, low morale and anxiety. For your work, and more importantly yourself, this is not healthy.

People don’t expect you to take on every task that comes your way, and want you to be performing to the very best of your abilities. Take control of the work-life balance by only putting yourself forward for the tasks that you know you will be able to handle on top of your day-to-day workload.

Do your best to make sure your work doesn’t encroach too much in to your ‘me time’. 

Take control of distractions

With our immersion in mobile technology and social media it is all too easy to become distracted in the work place. This can be extremely disruptive when you have a large workload in need of effective time management.

Take control in order to remove potential distractions. Don’t sit with your mobile phone on your des, and don’t stay permanently logged into social media accounts. Instead, reward yourself for periods of concentrated work with short breaks when you can check these without the pressure or guilt.

Make time to relax 

Nobody can work for 8+ hours and still remain 100% focussed and perform to their best ability.

It is important to schedule time into your day where you can remove yourself from your work and have some time to clear your mind and relax. Not only does this help reduce stress, but it will boost concentration levels when you are working, allowing you to focus on performing to your best.