“The bad news is time files. The good news is you’re the pilot.” Michael Altshuler
Working from home can be a challenge. Time management is one area that can help improve your productivity. At home, you don’t have your co-workers or supervisors there monitoring your workload. Instead, you have more emails, instant chats, and distractions from home that can make time management seem more daunting. This article will help you to master time management.
Here are some simple tools to get you on the right track for time management.
1. DON’T MULTI-TASK. INSTEAD, START BATCH PROCESSING
Research has proven that multitasking is a myth. It slows you down and can lead to more mistakes. The loss of time is called “switching costs” because our brain actually switches between tasks. What will save you time is doing things in batches. For example, process all orders at one time and then move on to process invoices. This organized approach is similar to a manufacturing assembly line. Most workers on an assembly line aren’t running around doing different tasks because it is more efficient to complete one type of task at a time in a batch. Working on one task at a time will allow you to better focus and finish the task.
2. CREATE A TIME ANALYSIS
Ever wonder where your time went at the end of the day? Well, a good way to find out is to create a time analysis. This will allow you to see how long projects take as well as what distractions are pulling you away from completing your tasks. There are many time management apps you can try or you can also just keep a simple journal noting tasks and completion times. This time analysis will help you to prioritize and manage your time better when making your To-Do List.
3. CREATE A TO-DO LIST
Every morning, make sure the first thing on your To-Do List is “Create Today’s, To-Do List.” By scheduling time to make your list, you are more prepared to analyze your time as well as accomplish your tasks. This To-Do List should be organized in order of priority. The most important and urgent items should be at the top of the list. The “Eisenhower Method” covers this approach in more detail. At the core, this method is about organizing based upon importance and urgency. Some tasks are important and urgent. Others are important but not urgent, and you will also find tasks that are urgent but not important and those that are neither urgent nor important. Understanding the different types of tasks will help you prioritize your list. In addition, you have the most energy in the morning which helps to work on those important and urgent tasks first. It also helps to get that feeling of accomplishment early in the day to keep you motivated.
4. SCHEDULE BREAKS
Research has proven that a “brain break” can actually improve your focus and avoid burnout.
5. STAY ORGANIZED
How can you be efficient with your time if you aren’t organized? We often spend time looking for a document or scrolling through emails trying to find the one that we need. One tip is to organize your emails with folders and labels/flags that help maintain your To Do list for the week. Another tip is that everything should have a “home” and to establish those at the beginning of the project.
6. USE YOUR CALENDAR
It sounds simple but sometimes you need to block off time to work on a larger project. By marking your calendar as “busy”, you will encourage yourself to work on the project as well as cut down on outside distractions from others.
7. SCHEDULE TIME TO CHECK YOUR EMAILS & RETURN PHONE CALLS
Some of us are constantly receiving calls, emails, instant chats, etc. Learn to schedule time during the day to focus on replying to emails and phone calls. That way you aren’t stopping what you are working on each time a new email or phone call comes in.
8. ADDED VALUE VS. OVER PRODUCING
Sometimes we tend to think more is always better. But we must remember that Time is also valuable. If you are working on a project, stop to think about what tasks are adding value vs what tasks are just “over producing” and not adding value. Over producing something that doesn’t add value is poor time management.
I will leave you with a few quotes about time that resonated with me:
“Ordinary people think merely of spending time. Great people think of using it.” Author Unknown
“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.” Theophrastus
About the Author:
Bea Timmermans, Accounting Director at Exhibit Concepts, Inc.
Bea is extensively involved in a variety of customer-facing aspects for Exhibit Concepts, ensuring our business runs smoothly and our customers are satisfied with our service. With over six years of experience with the company, Bea is as skilled with accounting functions as she is with quality people relations.
As Accounting Director, Bea manages our internal accounting team of Accounts Payable and Account Receivable, manages all aspects of internal software, credit card contracts, customer storage, and handles audits. She is skilled in client and internal relations, working to take our new clients through the onboarding process, while also helping to train staff on processes, software management, and invoicing.