For many of us, time management can help us be more efficient and effective at work and in our daily lives and help us feel less stressed. It is easier than you may think – it just requires some focus, a bit of juggling and taking some time to plan.
Though we are unable to control time – all of us have the same 24 hours in a day after all – we can learn how to better manage our workload and tasks throughout each day.
If you struggle with time management, we recommend you try our suggestions below – but if the concept of managing your time is truly challenging, there are some other techniques we can suggest (see the last paragraph).
Regardless of your own motivation for trying to better manage your time, time management skills are useful to anyone because they can help us become more focused and productive when we’re more in charge of how we use our time. Benefits include:
- Less stress or anxiety
- Better work-life balance
- Increased focus
- Higher levels of productivity
- More free time
- Makes things simpler or easier
- Less distraction
- Greater energy and motivation
Here are some tips for improving your time management skills:
- Produce a time log for a week
To start with, producing a weekly log will show you how you currently spend your time and therefore how much you spend on non-productive tasks. This will be helpful with managing how you spend your time moving forward and prioritising tasks.
- Prioritise your to-do list
A to-do list tracks all your outstanding tasks in one place and when used efficiently, can also help you see your progress. It structures what you have to get done and you'll get a sense of achievement as you'll see you're making progress. When you prioritise tasks on your list, you know which tasks have to be completed first allowing you to manage your day better.
- Estimate how long a task or project might take
Estimating how long a project or task might take can help you better understand how much time you will need to spend on it – and if you might require additional time or resources to complete it
- Set SMART Goals
Set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and secured within a time frame. Be specific with the outcomes you want to achieve and allocate the time needed to reach that outcome.
- Reduce your exposure
For tasks that require intense focus, don't be afraid to turn off your email or instant message notifications, or put your smartphone on silent (just be sure to let your manager know first!). Plus, this is a visual reminder to others that you are busy.
- Eliminate Distractions
Distractions can be a significant obstacle to effective time management. Identify what distracts you and eliminate it as much as possible. For example, if social media is a distraction, turn off notifications or limit your use of social media during work hours.
Time management for neurodivergent people
Some neurodivergent individuals, particularly ADHDers, may experience significant fluctuations in their attention and focus. This can be exacerbated when tasks are unstimulating for the individual. Many also have a sensitive sensory profile meaning that stimuli can impact their attention and focus. They may find it challenging to maintain focused during long meetings or become intensely focused (hyperfocus)- in a state of 'flow' - on a task
It is a stereotype and a misconception that ADHDers ‘cannot focus’ – not only can they focus, but they can often generate outstanding output when interested and stimulated. Given the nature of the ADHDer ‘hummingbird mind’, organisation and time management can be challenging, however.
Given the value ADHDers can bring to their work, it’s important that HR and managers accept ADHDer employees for who they are, and that both sides work together to find the best path. This can often be facilitated by self-awareness on the part of the ADHDer and increased awareness and understand of the impacts of ADHD.