Working with a large number of clients in digital marketing can pile up more and more demands on my day. When I have deadlines to meet and clients to satisfy, prioritising my time is the most important thing I can do, and it needs to become second nature.
Time management is a very simple concept of controlling how you spend your time in and out of work. By controlling your time, you will find it a lot easier to manage a large workload and cut out non-essential tasks, enabling you to achieve more in the precious little time you have.
Good time management can also make the work you are doing more rewarding, because you will not stress yourself out with constant worries on how you are going to finish your work on time, or when you can get around to working on something else.
For modern-day working professionals, good time management is just as important as getting a few good meals in per day and getting plenty of sleep. If you are often finding yourself too busy to do something, having deadlines which you cannot meet and are generally disorganized, stepping back and taking some proactive measures to better manage your time will work wonders for you in the long-term.
How to Manage Your Time
There is no single proven way or method you can use to manage your time; it depends entirely on you as an individual and the work you do and the amount of it piling up. Start, however, by looking at how you are currently spending your time and then noting this down every day for a week, I use Harvest time tracking. At the end of this week, review your schedule and see where you are wasting time or where you could be more productive.
Look for things to delegate, things to move around, or things to automate or simply cut out of your day entirely – this is the most important, try and see the tasks that you should not be doing. Try to prioritize your tasks based on urgency, level of focus needed, or any other classification you will find useful.
This is where some self-control comes in. When you have recognized the key areas you are wasting time on or not being productive, you need to take proactive steps to remedy this. Try to minimize little time-wasting activities which add up, such as small-talk with co-workers, numerous coffee breaks, reading the news, or quickly browsing through your social media feeds. We’re not saying that you need to become a recluse, but you can probably cut down on the amount of office gossip you get yourself invested in.
The 80/20 Rule
Also known as the Pareto Principle, it is a method you can use to organise your time when you have figured out what the problem areas are. It is based on the premise that 80% of our achievements take up 20% of our time, or that 80% of what we achieve takes 20% of our effort.
What this means in simple terms is that you should focus on the most important 20% of your work and ensure your time spent on these is uninterrupted and efficient.
Make To-Do Lists
It may sound somewhat cliché, but to-do lists really can help to prevent you from forgetting important tasks and keep track of your time management strategy. Some people find motivation through creating to-do lists and seeing them through to the end, so if you are that kind of person start jotting things down. Seeing things crossed out through the day will also act as a motivation booster, and help you stick to it.
Your to-do list should be prioritized so as to avoid performing non-essential tasks or completing time-insensitive work before more important things.
Create Clear Goals
You should create clear, simple goals and update them each day. Starting your day with fresh goals can help you keep on top of your workload and ensure that your work is completed on time.
Setting goals is a key part of time management and it enables you to think about what needs to be done and prepare for the task ahead. To use your time most efficiently, you should focus on the goals which are important and need to be done on a particular day and avoid focussing on next day’s goal until it is the next day.
People often slip up with time management because they do not create prioritised goals; it is all too easy to get side-tracked on a project which is not due for another two weeks and forget about the work which needs to be finalized that day.
Get Some Sleep
When you lead a busy life and are snowed in under work, it is too easy to focus on this work and lose sleep because of it. In the long-term, lack of sleep is going to prove fatal to your other commitments, as you begin to have lapses in concentration, bad moods and are generally lethargic.
Cutting out valuable sleep to get more work done can be a destructive habit and, whilst you may get away with it in your 20s, ten years down the line it will have a noticeable impact. If you are tired all day, you cannot make the best use of your time and you would be better off staying home and not working at all. So, make sure you are getting those magic hours each night.
Conduct Weekly Reviews
Reviewing your week is not just something you should do at the start of your time management efforts, it is something which you should do each week. A weekly review is a great time management tip and helps you stay on track and focus on planning your time more efficiently.
When conducting your weekly review, look at your diary for the past week and look for things which need your attention or areas where you have lost time and see if you can remedy this. For bonus points, go through your invoices and reduce the number of emails which need your attention down to zero, that way you won’t come across any nasty surprises during the coming week and you can start afresh on Monday morning with a clear head.