Back to School - Time Management Techniques

With the return to school just around the corner perhaps now is a good time to review time management both for those returning, and those of us who may just need it so we can get more stuff done during the day. Time is one of our most valuable possessions, so wouldn’t it be better to know how to best put it to use?

Time management is the process of organising and planning how to divide your time between specific activities, where good time management enables you to work smarter, and not harder, so that you get more work done in less time. This can be the case even when time is tight, and pressures are high. Unfortunately lack of time management and failure to manage time can lead to lack of effectiveness and stress, often causing us to be busy, but not necessarily effective. The following are some of the better tips for time management.

Set Goals

Goals often help create a sense of direction, with a clear focus, clarifying what is important. SMART goals often work best, that is goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

Tackle the most important tasks first

MITs, or most important tasks, are best tackled at the start of the day, creating momentum that will help tackle the other tasks that follow.

Prioritise wisely

An example of a tool used to prioritise tasks is the quadrant time-management system. Splitting activities into four quadrants based on urgency and importance tasks are either both, urgent, important, or neither. By tackling tasks in this order time is effectively managed. Better yet if some urgent tasks can be delegated that leaves more time for important tasks which need focusing on.

Set time limits

The ‘timely’ part of SMART goals means setting time limits for your goals and tasks. This is important and what helps further is to get an estimation of the time you think you will need. This way if the goal is not achievable within a certain time you will know when it may be appropriate to delegate some of the challenges to other people, if available.

Take a break

Taking a break between tasks is a good way to stay motivated and focused. Getting some fresh air, going for a short walk to get the blood pumping, or getting a cup of tea are all great ways to refresh and clear the mind before starting the next task.

Organise yourself and plan ahead

Making use of a calendar for long term time management helps plan in advance what specifically needs to be done each day. Similarly, planning ahead at the end of each day can help create a ‘to do’ list full of SMART goals for the following day. This will help get the ball rolling and can be picked up the following morning.

Remove or delegate non-essential tasks/activities

This can be a tricky one but having the courage to remove non-essential tasks and determine what is important can really free up time for what is.