Let’s face it, most of us could use help with time management even under normal circumstances. But the same benefits that make coworking facilities so beneficial for productivity, can also leave you feeling like you don’t have enough time in your day. The proximately to like-minded professionals that increases your network and spurs your creativity, can also be a distraction from your work. So, we’ve assembled a few time-management tips to focus your energy and attention and help keep your productivity level, and your business, ticking along smoothly.
Time management is the process of planning how to efficiently use and control the time you spend on different aspects of your day. Those who master time-management, say their work quality improves, they have less stress, more time to work on strategic projects and they are more confident.
Here’s a few things you can do to get started:
Know how you’re spending your time
When you create a budget, you track expenses. Well, it’s the same concept for time management. You need to keep track of what you’re spending your time on. Doing so helps you identify any habits – like checking personal social media accounts – that may be keeping you from reaching your goals. There are a number of time-tracking tools online you can use, or just keep a detailed list to determine how many hours you’re productive in a day versus how much time you’re spending on non-work-related activities while you’re supposed to be working.
Create a daily schedule
Create a daily schedule with allotted time blocks for different tasks. But make sure to set realistic timelines, so you don’t fall victim to what scientists call “planning fallacy,” which results in overly optimistic delivery estimates. Add time buffers between tasks so if one goes over the time limit, the overall schedule stays intact. And give each task your undivided attention. Don’t sneak a look at your phone to check text messages about dinner plans. Save that for when you take a scheduled break. Self-discipline is key!
Tackle the most difficult task first
We all fall victim to unexpected phone calls or colleagues who stops by with a question that leads to a long conversation. And by the time we can get back on task, we’ve wasted valuable minutes. Expert Brian Tracy suggests the Eat That Frog productivity method to help with both distractions and procrastination.
Relax, you don’t actually have to digest a frog (although some consider frog legs a delicacy). Rather, the method involves tackling the biggest, most difficult and most important task first—the one you’re likely to put off for later. Once you get through it, the rest of the day should get easier.
Create prioritized task lists
To-do lists are your friend. But rather than just listing everything in random order, use something like the Eisenhower Matrix, which helps you prioritize according to importance and urgency and helps define your priorities. This is right in line with doing the most important thing first, as mentioned above. The Matrix suggests breaking down your task list as follows:
- Immediate: These are important tasks with defined deadlines
- Later: The priority tasks with no defined deadlines
- Delegate: Tasks that someone else can do
- Delete: Tasks you can likely eliminate because they don’t fit in with your goals
Batch similar tasks together
Batching means grouping similar tasks so you can work on them together. For example, perhaps you can hold meetings only on certain days of the week. Or set aside the same time each morning and each afternoon to respond to emails, like between 10 and 11 am and 2 and 3 pm.
Set reasonable time limits
How often have we all heard the saying “the job expands to fit the time”? If you have a whole day to complete a task, it will take that whole day, even if it should really take only a few hours. Try to create smaller time windows, but as we previously mentioned, don’t try to cram too much in either.
It’s ok to say no – or not right now
None of us wants to say no to a new client or customer, or to potential revenue. But we all need to acknowledge our limitations. The more we try to fit into our schedule, the less energy and focus we have for each successive task. And that can mean producing less that your best work. If possible, delegate some tasks to others. Prioritize the day-to-day requests by making sure they align with your goals. And don’t be afraid to tell potential clients that to deliver the highest quality of work they deserve, the lead time will be a little longer (you practiced setting realistic time allotments above).
Most people like to brag about good they are at muti-tasking. They wear it as a badge of honor (myself included). But experts agree that when you switch from one task to another and back again, precious time is lost. And your risk of error skyrockets. So again, focus your efforts and your attention.
Spend Your Time at CoLab
CoLab offers coworking memberships in a safe, convenient, and cost-effective environment among a community of professionals like you. With a wide variety of office and shared spaces available to choose from, CoLab provides the value, tools, and networking opportunities professionals need to focus on their clients and to grow. Contact us at 203-208-8488 for a tour or schedule a tour here!