Time management is not easy and can take a lot of practice to get good at. Below, you can find some tips to help you with your time management.
- Try to become aware of when you are procrastinating and what your reasons for procrastinating are. Think about which part of the task is stopping you from making a start now. Be especially mindful of putting off difficult, high-priority tasks.
- Try to focus on one task at a time. By always trying to multitask, you constantly have to switch between tasks quickly. This can be very stressful, and tasks will take longer to complete. Do you need to set aside a task for a while because you have something important to do? Then make sure to leave yourself a reminder so you know exactly where you left off when you get back to it.
- Plan enough daily rest breaks. For example, in addition to your lunch break, plan in 10-minute coffee breaks alone or with a colleague.
- Take the time it takes to prepare and finish off the task into account. A work meeting can require a lot of preparation or extra tasks that have to be completed afterwards.
- Set boundaries for yourself. Determine your number of working hours per day and, for example, limit yourself to only working 30 minutes over time if necessary. Avoid working in the evenings or on weekends, as this will make it harder for you to get out of ‘work mode’. It might seem easy to quickly go through your emails, but it will keep your mind occupied with work for the rest of the evening. Take into consideration whether it is necessary to always be available.
- Find solutions for time-consuming daily tasks. See if there are possibilities to reduce or delegate daily administration, for example.
- Structure your work. This will reduce the time you spend looking for things. Ensure that your workplace is organized, store information in a structured way (in subfolders, for example), tidy up everything regularly by putting old documents in the trash and use a fixed layout for your computer screen.
- Choose to say ‘no’. Practice saying ‘no’ to tasks or explore why you are so prone to saying ‘yes’ to everything. Ask yourself or the other person how important the task is and decide whether you have time for the task, and, if so, when you can perform the task. A phone call may seem urgent, but sometimes it does not need to be resolved immediately. Do you struggle to say ‘no’ sometimes? Read more about assertiveness.
- Prepare for conversations and meetings in advance to make them more efficient. Be strict with the allocated time and set clear boundaries.
- It can be annoying when your work is constantly interrupted. Therefore, try to prevent distractions during tasks. When is it acceptable to be interrupted and when is it not? What can you do to resolve repetitive disruptions? Try turning off your email notifications, for example, or ask someone to come back later or set up fixed office hours. If it is urgent, give someone a maximum of 5 minutes, but be strict with the allocated time.
- It is impossible to properly remember all of your ongoing tasks, projects, instructions and conversations. Therefore, reduce the burden on your memory and ensure that you include important information in, for example, a report, so that you and others are able to quickly understand the information after reading it.
- Learn to delegate. In addition to reducing your own workload, you will learn to trust others or teach someone else how to perform the task. What are your reasons for not delegating something? Think about whether it is a valid reason (is it your favourite task? Maybe you are afraid to ask someone else?). Provide clear instructions and determine the degree of freedom. Do you want to be able to supervise someone closely, do you want an update now and then or would you like them to contact you if there are any problems?
- Organize your email efficiently. Use filters and special mailboxes to automatically organize all incoming e-mail traffic. This ensures that you can read the important and urgent emails first and the unimportant messages remain out of sight. You could also, for example, set fixed times with your colleagues in which they can and cannot email you.
Which tips are important for you to keep in mind? Set these tips as a reminder in NiceDay, so that you are reminded during your workdays. By doing this, you can keep on top of your time management.
Keijsers, G. P. J., Van Minnen, A., Verbraak, M., Hoogduin, C. A. L. & Emmelkamp, P., (2017). Protocollaire behandelingen voor volwassenen met psychische klachten.