Effective techniques for better time management

By Shyamal Parikh

Time is the currency of life. It is the most strategic commodity that all human beings possess. Everyone gets 24 hours each day, and it is to up to you how you spend it. Deciding the amount of time to spend on a particular task with an aim to increase productivity is called time management. Nobody is perfect at it from the start. It’s a skill that comes with practice. When you become good at time management, you will be able to do more within the same timeframe.  In other words, you will experience an increase in productivity.

Time slips away every day. You get to the end of the day and wonder where all the time went. Part of life is learning how to manage the amount of time you have at your disposal each day. There are experiences and distraction that steal your time away and sometimes delay you. For example, you had your day planned out properly. Out of nowhere, you had to deal with someone else’s urgency. This urgency steals your time away and pushes you off schedule. This article outlines effective techniques for time management.

– Use a schedule: A large majority of people have tried this. It is perhaps a very difficult task to abide by the schedule as there are many distractions along the way that steal your time and push you off schedule. Lots of schedule apps available now, but the main problem with using such app on your phone is that there is no place to write down notes of what happened. Keeping a journal of what happened, what was the distraction, where did it come from can come in pretty handy.

It is important to get it down to a much more basic level of managing your time. You can keep trying to put your schedule together all you want but if you don’t study the distractions and their frequency, you will not have the power to change or predict those things. When you note down the distractions and work to eliminate the common ones that are throwing you off schedule repeatedly, you will be able to see a significant increase in the quantum of work that you are able to do in a day.

-Leave some space: Is there a white space in your schedule? White space means time that is scheduled for nothing to happen. Having a packed calendar will only give a person stress. When the mind is overloaded with stuff, it starts malfunctioning. In other words, the mind starts to take irrational decisions that only worsen your current time crunch. And this way, you mess up the whole day and the schedule falls apart. Taking some time off is essential to manage time and work with a cool mind. Without the white space, you are setting yourself up for problems. White space is a synonym for preparation, travel, and chill time.

– Prioritize things: Distractions usually come from other people’s urgencies. When you plan your day, you generally don’t take into account the unavoidable situations that might pop up. If you have enough of white space in your schedule, you can cater to one or two urgencies but other than that, you are not in a position to help someone else because doing so will put your own schedule into jeopardy. In your workplace, there will always be people that don’t schedule their day. If someone else’s urgency is not a priority for you, don’t do it.

– Stop and think: A person who cannot stop is going to struggle to manage the calendar. The idea here is to stop working once and for all at a particular time. This will give you the energy to start the next day with greater zeal, energy, and enthusiasm. The stop from the night before and the start of the next day really sets the tone for the whole day. Also, take some time off to think and reflect on the events of the day. This might give you some insights on what you did right and the points you need to work on.

– Delegate: This is a simple thing but has the potential to make a lot of difference. What is the benefit of hiring those super talented, dedicated employees if you cannot give them work? You will never know what they are actually capable of until you give them some responsibility. Giving your employees work will enable you to focus on the key areas of the business. When you delegate, you create room for more work and eventually end up accomplishing more in the same timeframe. If you have a small business, delegation becomes all the more important because it gives you time to think and plan about the future.

– Saying “no” is sometimes best for business: Don’t hesitate to put aside a request if you have something more important and urgent at hand. Take up productive tasks and leave the less important tasks for later or delegate them. Saying “no” keeps you on schedule. And when you do what you perceive as more important, you automatically manage time.

– Plan alternative courses of action: The business environment is dynamic and changes constantly. You might have something planned for the day but due to some unavoidable circumstances, you are unable to get that task accomplished. For such situations, you must have an alternative course of action with all its pros and cons in place. This way, if a task is canceled for whatever reason, you can use that time to do some other work. In other words, you must always have a plan B in place.

– Stay away from social media: Mindless scrolling on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook will not help you manage time better. Being glued to social media is not an addiction; rather it is more of a destructive habit because it has a negative impact on your time management. As a matter of fact, once people start scrolling they tend to do so for about 20 – 40 minutes. And if you have such scrolling session twice or thrice a day, a good 1.5 – 2 hours of your productive time goes in the trash can. Refrain from using social media during work hours as it does no good to you or your business. Rather it pushes you off schedule and makes you a bad time manager.

– Don’t go to unorganized meetings: Meetings are an important part of running a business. Different teams come and present their accomplishments, the problems they faced, and so on. A meeting is perhaps the best place to find solutions to a problem. But, calling a meeting as soon as a problem arises will raise only chaos. You simply cannot expect a meeting to work if you don’t give people some time to think and develop their opinion about the problem at hand. Also, the number of people in the meeting has a monumental impact on the outcome. Your main priority should be finding a solution to the problem. When organizing a meeting, make sure that only relevant teams and members participate in the meeting; otherwise everything will go in vain including your time.

– Look after yourself: Health is wealth. In the midst of all the hustle bustle of running a business, it is easy to forget about yourself. Falling asleep at your desk or on the office couch is a sign that you have been managing your time poorly. Give yourself a healthy 7 – 8 hours sleep, eat healthily and indulge in exercises and games. You will be able to work only when you are healthy. “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” fits here perfectly.

– Don’t let anyone disturb you during your peak productivity: Everyone has a surge in productivity. This is called “flow.” In that period of surge, you are very likely to accomplish more than half of your whole day’s work. Keep the longest, most difficult task of the day for that surge period. This not only eases your day out but also places you ahead of time. Manage your time in the light of this surge and you will surely be able to accomplish more during the same timeframe.

– Recognize that multitasking is a myth: The truth is that multitasking wastes time more than anything else. If you are working on two or more tasks at the same time, your concentration and focus is distributed and the chances of error in all the tasks increases. Therefore, concentrate on a single task and you will be just fine.

These were some time management techniques you might find useful. Apart from these, review your day every day to make a note of what bogged you down and what led to an increase in the productivity and enabled you to manage your time better. Try to inculcate the latter more often during work and you will surely become good at time management. Time management comes with practice, therefore, give it some time and slowly but surely, everything will fall into place.


Shyamal Parikh is the founder of SmartTask, an online work management tool that’s helping teams be more productive by having clarity on who’s doing what by when. Has a penchant for researching and sharing strategies that could benefit a team’s productivity.


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