Good time management doesn’t mean you do more work in less time; it means you focus on the tasks that matter and will make a difference. Learning how to manage your time effectively will help you feel more relaxed, more focused, and more in control, and it will help you achieve the lifestyle balance you want, according to Britain’s National Health Service.
NHS recently posted tips for better time management from Emma Donaldson-Feilder, a chartered occupational psychologist:
1. Work out your goals. Decide who you want to be, your priorities in life, and what you want to achieve in your career or personal life. From there, work out some short-term and medium-term goals. Donaldson-Feilder recommends maintaining one to-do list to avoid losing track of multiple lists. “Keeping a list will help you work out your priorities and timings, so it can help you put off the non-urgent tasks,” she said.
2. Work smarter, not harder. Good time management at work means doing high-quality work, not high quantity, so concentrate not on how busy you are, but on your results. “Spending more time on something doesn’t necessarily achieve more. Staying an extra hour at work at the end of the day may not be the most effective way to manage your time” because you may feel resentful about being in the office after hours, and you may be less productive and more frustrated about how little you’re achieving, which will compound your stress,” she said.
3. Have a lunch break. Many people work through their lunch break to gain an extra hour at work. Getting at least 30 minutes away from your desk to relax and think of something other than work will help you be more productive in the afternoon, however, said Donaldson-Feilder.
4. Prioritize important tasks. Organize tasks in four categories: urgent and important, not urgent but important, urgent but not important, and neither urgent nor important. “When the phone rings, it seems urgent to pick it up, but it’s not necessarily important,” she said. “It may be more important to continue with what you were doing rather than be distracted by a phone call. When it is appropriate, it may be more effective to let your voicemail pick up the message.”
5. Practice the 4 Ds. These will keep your email inbox from overwhelming your day.
- Delete: half of the emails you get probably can be deleted immediately.
- Do: if the email is urgent or can be completed quickly.
- Delegate: if the email can be better dealt with by someone else.
- Defer: set aside time at a later date to spend on emails that require longer action.