Better time management can improve your productivity
Do you often struggle to finish all of your tasks before the end of the workday? Do you continuously spend more time on certain projects than you’d originally budgeted? Or do you sometimes rush through important tasks just so you can complete them on time?
If you’ve answered, “Yes!” to any of these questions, you’re not alone. Most of us want to be more efficient and productive at work. And so we create to-do lists, download time management and productivity apps, or simply spend a couple of hours in the evening finishing up. But in the long run, few people find these strategies helpful or sustainable. So why is it that we rarely have enough time — and what can we do about it?
Why you never have enough time
As José Luis Peñarredonda points out in his BBC article “Why time management so often fails,” many people get frustrated with time management tools and techniques. This isn’t because the tools and techniques don’t work — instead, it’s because people keep adding more responsibilities. In other words, they equate better time management with the ability to complete more work. But if you’re already struggling to finish your work in time, adding more tasks to your load is frustrating. Over time, it can lead to exhaustion and a loss of motivation.
Strategies for better time management
To be more productive in the workplace, you need to know how to realistically manage your time. Keep the following pointers in mind:
- Schedule more time for tasks than you think you need. One of the main reasons people can’t stick to their schedules is because they don’t budget sufficient time for specific tasks. To prevent yourself from making the same mistake, always add some extra time to how long you think you’ll need. This will function as a buffer — if you need more time, you’ll have it. And if you don’t need extra time, you can get going with your next task.
- Don’t overload yourself. There’s only so much you can do in a workday without making mistakes or suffering from burnout. So be realistic about the amount of work you can do in a day while still maintaining the level of quality your supervisor expects of you.
- Build a routine. A lot of the work you do in a day is consistently the same as the day before. If you make a habit of completing routine tasks in a specific order, it becomes second nature — and you’ll find yourself working faster and more efficiently because you’re training your brain to move from one task to the next.
By being aware of what you can realistically accomplish in a day without overloading yourself, you’ll soon find that you can accomplish everything you set out to do in a day. And in the long run, that will ensure you’re more energized, enthusiastic, and productive when you’re at work.
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