How to Solve Time-Management Problems
The sun rises and alarm clocks buzz, signaling the arrival of the morning. The work time is usually strictly defined by either your workplace schedule, or the schedule of your partners and clients. It’s teatime when the kettle boils and it’s supper time when you return from work. The sun sets, meaning it’s soon bedtime. For most of us, life is measured in compartmentalized segments, depending on our lifestyle and occupation. In this situation time management problems should sound like nonsense, right?
Then why are there so many people constantly struggling to find enough time for important things? Do they have less hours in a day? Well, turns out it’s not about how much time you have – it’s about how you spend it. Small tasks can take mere minutes – or hours; projects can be completed on schedule – or go far beyond deadlines. Today, we’re going to tackle this widespread issue and teach you to make enough time instead of search for it.
How to make your working hours more productive?
Researches show that while weak time management can result in many different problems, the underlying reasons for this are always the same. It’s true regardless if you are a c-suite or a solopreneur. Identifying which reasons are true in your case is the first step towards building an effective time management system.
Reason #1. Taking on too much.
This usually happens when you either fail to assess the actual size and priority of your tasks, or find it difficult to say “NO” when asked to do something. This results in biting more than you can chew, failing to spend enough time with each assignment and overall dissatisfaction with your work.
Solution: Always try to estimate the amount of time another task will take before accepting it. Don’t be afraid to say “no” if you realize you will not be able to complete it well enough or in time. Most clients would rather wait than get their task poorly executed.
Reason #2. Multitasking.
It is a common belief that doing two things at once means completing them twice as fast. Alas, most often things don’t work this way. If you concentrate on one task at a time, your brain goes through a certain “set up” when you start. After that, your brain’s resources are targeted exclusively on this task at maximum efficiency. However, when multitasking, your brain has to go through this procedure every time you switch from one task to another. In the result, you spend most of the work time thinking about what has to be done instead of actually doing it. Classic example of “busy instead of effective”.
Solution: Try to always concentrate on a single task. In cases when you have a lot of concurrent activities, it’s important to define their priorities. One way is to analyze which task’s execution will make completing others easier and quicker.
Reason #3. Not planning.
You might think that a project will not take much time and there’s no need to plan it in. Or that there are not too many tasks at hand and you will be able to intuitively maneuver them somehow. This is the first step in the direction of piling problems up and amassing them into a perilous snowball. That’s why planning is crucial for businesses of any size to succeed. A couple hours spent on building a business strategy now will save you days and weeks of correcting and bug fixing later.
Solution: It is important to use sufficient tools for planning. Otherwise, you risk building an impractical and inflexible plan, and losing it in countless spreadsheets and notebooks. We recommend a neat application called Roadmap Planner that allows you to build strategic plans of any scope, be it a detailed business plan or a single project within a single product. It also has some useful features, like collaboration on a plan document with your team. All in all, this tool will be really helpful for building a flexible and elaborate strategy, and will give you a helicopter view of your business.
Reason #4. Procrastination.
We all know this feeling really well, don’t we? You’ve sat at your work desk all day, and you can swear you have been working. However, from the state of the project, it’s obvious that the actual “working” took place for half of the day, at best. What happened? Say hello to your friendly neighbor – procrastination. It usually happens when your work is a boring and tedious one, or if there are some distractions. Whatever the reason, procrastination can get out of hand really fast and drastically increase the time it takes you to complete the task.
Solution: The most obvious advice here is to isolate yourself from distractions. Switch off message notifications, use coworking space if your home is a noisy place, turn off your smartphone, etc. However, sometimes procrastination is the result of organism fatigue. We’re not machines and we can’t work long hours with the same efficiency. Because of that, it’s important to give yourself enough rest, both after work and during work breaks. And speaking of which…
How to make your free time more productive?
Experts agree that a quality rest is the guarantee of high productivity at work. Alas, it’s extremely common for workaholics to discard the importance of free time. And even less busy people often admit they don’t like holidays because they don’t know how to fill them. This is a sad and unhealthy tendency that has to be fixed.
If you are like that, a great way to start would be reading Ernie Zelinski’s books, such as “The joy of not working”. He provides some nice guidelines on how to make your free time more full and joyful. For now, here is a short tip on how to make your holidays more effective.
The main key to an enjoyable and memorable weekend is to make it feel new. Our brain works in such a way that when you do something unfamiliar, it focuses more on this process. As the result, it creates a more clear and thorough memory of such experience. So when you reflect on that afterwards, you feel like you had more free time and spent it more consciously.
What’s more, novelty doesn’t mean it has to be anything global. Even a slight shift from your routine will make this method work. Try a new restaurant, take another route while on a walk, see a movie with your friends instead of a Netflix show, etc. Even a new setting for a usual pastime will do.
We hope this article makes the task of time-management a piece of cake for you. It’s an important skill, and like any skills, it can be mastered. And once you do this – no task will feel daunting and tedious any more!