Four key time management strategies

By Liz

For our team, and yours too, I bet, time management is an absolutely crucial skill. It’s what enables us all to work together effectively as a team, and to deliver quality work to our clients on time. My recent skillshare unpacked four key strategies and here they are:

1. Look after yourself

Nobody can successfully navigate a busy day when they start on the back foot. Looking after yourself to ensure your mind and body are fighting fit is half the battle. My suggestion is to get enough

  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Eat
  • Rest

Note that sleep and rest are two different points on this list. Getting enough sleep regularly is so important for our wellbeing. There is so much research available on this now – if you need any convincing, check out ‘Why We Sleep’ by Matthew Walker. One important thing that came up in our team chat about sleep is that there are no credits when it comes to sleep. You can’t get away with sleeping five hours a night during the week and then crashing for twelve hours on the weekend to even yourself out. It just doesn’t work like that for your body.

Rest, on the other hand, is not just sleep; it’s a way of finding the balance in your life. For all the busyness, there must also be stillness and relaxation. That might take the shape of reading, loafing around on the couch, walking in nature, meditating.

2. Prioritise

Prioritising your tasks allows you to assess each one and allocate the appropriate amount of time and energy to it. The trick here is not to spend a lot of time deciding how important a task is. The grid below is a helpful tool in deciding how much of a priority a task is. A task which falls in the important / urgent quadrant takes top spot on the list and one that falls in the not urgent / not important quadrant comes in last.

3. Plan

Planning the following work day before you leave in the evening is a great way to ensure you get through what’s required and can manage anything you can’t complete that day.

List your tasks according to their priority (as above) and then estimate broadly how much time each will take so you have a clear sense of what is achievable during that day and what needs to be deferred. The skill here is estimating accurately. We like to think that tasks take far quicker than they actually do and that’s what often gets us into a bottleneck.

It’s also helpful to allow for unexpected tasks that come up during the day and take others in your team into account. For example, you may have a deadline to send a client a piece of work but it needs to be seen by another team member for feedback first. If you’re working with others, make sure there’s enough time for them to fit a task into their day, rather than putting them under pressure at the last minute.

For tasks that you won’t get through in the next day but require attention, acknowledge the task and communicate its deferral where necessary so anyone expecting a response knows where they stand.

4. Work with discipline

When it’s time to knuckle down and get through your tasks, removing distractions is crucial to getting through your to-do list. Here are some tips to keep you on track:

  • Move away from loud spaces and people
  • Close all unnecessary tabs in your browser e.g. social media
  • Put your phone on silent and in a drawer
  • Pause your inbox to focus on a burst of productivity
  • Reward yourself when you’ve completed challenging tasks to keep yourself motivated

It’s so easy to be overwhelmed by or lose track of tasks, make too many promises and get distracted. Hopefully these four key time management strategies help you get through your to-do list smoothly.