The keys to planning and effective time management

The keys to planning and effective time management

You have probably already heard several phrases like “I need more time”, I wish the days had more hours “My morning has flown by”, I never have enough time, and we could create a list of similar phrases; time management.

Without a doubt, this is a topic that interests many of us, whether we are entrepreneurs, have our own company or work for others.

“Effective time management at work helps us organize day-to-day activities to fulfill planned tasks, respecting deadlines and considerably increasing productivity.

Next, we will see what time management really consists of, how we can plan efficiently by establishing priorities and the tools you could use to help you achieve it.

Time management at work and for companies

One of the most limited and valuable resources for a company is time. Time will affect your business, your activities, production, your income, and your sales.

Time management is the great ally of productivity and , therefore, of the profitability of any business or company.”

Therefore, investing in time management and priority management is a smart decision, to say the least. Some of its most relevant advantages are:

● Achieve goals in less time. When time is managed correctly, the objectives are framed within a previously defined period. That means tasks won’t be postponed indefinitely.

●Reduce stress. Working against the clock is the cause of many stressful situations. Both business people, entrepreneurs and workers know what it means not to deliver a project on time or how we feel when on a tight deadline. No matter your situation, the lack of time planning and not establishing priorities ends up generating stress and discomfort.

● Generate a sense of self-confidence. One of the most notable advantages in our day to day life is the confidence we acquire in ourselves. Seeing that we get to all the tasks and that we meet the deadlines, supposes a boost of energy that transforms into confidence and security.

● Work happily every day. If you manage your time, facing a new working day every morning will become more pleasant. You can go to work with a smile, it is possible.

● Have more fun with new projects or tasks. Hasn’t it happened to you that you started working on a project you loved, but the lack of time planning made you end up hating it? Time management will help us work happier.

● Form highly productive teams. Working faster, without compromising the quality of the results, is the dream of most of us. Time management is key to achieving this, as our days will be more effective.

● Make decisions consciously. If we know the time that each activity or phase of a project needs, we can make responsible decisions. That implies better ordering our work so as not to lose effectiveness. On the other hand, when we have removed the stress generated by the lack of time from the equation, we feel better to make decisions.

● Avoid procrastination. Finally, proper time planning, when we are permanently establishing priorities, will help us stop procrastinating. If you have assigned a deadline for each task, it will be easier to finish them on time.

Time management and priority management

Time management and priority management

The lack of time often makes us leave certain tasks, activities or projects for “tomorrow”. The problem comes when that “tomorrow” becomes “3 years later“.

In this sense, time management and priority management will play a fundamental role. If you learn to manage your time, you will be able to stop procrastinating and make a project, a personal dream or a goal that you have set for yourself in your business come true.

Keys to time planning by establishing priorities

Setting priorities is one of the best ways to make sure you won’t forget a task, as well as to be sure you won’t procrastinate over time and meet deadlines.

However, it is not always easy to set clear priorities and stick to them. Surely, you have already tried it and you will have seen that time management is something that requires dedication and, above all, a lot of willpower.

And it is useless to set priorities if we will just ignore them. Therefore, I want to give you 4 keys that help me organize my day to day, planning my time better, since it is easier to establish priorities.

List your commitments

When I speak of commitment, I am not simply referring to publicly commenting on our intention to apply a specific plan to better manage time (within a company or in our own work). Commitment here is much more than that

“It’s about making a commitment to ourselves. Admitting that you have failed a family member or friend hurts, but it hurts more when you realize that you have failed yourself and didn’t do what you knew you should, and could do.”

When you have defined objectives, it is essential to establish a time management plan, but also to commit to respecting them 100%. This is what then translates into a high level of satisfaction.

Define habits for each task

When facing day-to-day tasks, it is essential to cultivate habits or methods that help you execute them in order of priority and without procrastinating on any of them. For example, I usually prioritize them in this order:

1.- Tasks that are urgent for customers. Here we should include tasks with a tight deadline. Some might call this “putting out fires,” but I personally can focus on new goals better when my current customers are happy.

2.- Tasks that are controlled and can be solved quickly. Those that with a minimum of dedication, we can remove from the list. When you have several tasks to finish, marking the ones that were halfway or almost under control with a check generates satisfaction that drives you to move forward.

3.- Tasks that require more time commitment. My recommendation is to leave these for last, because they are more cumbersome and, no matter your strategy, they will require new habits to improve productivity; such as taking mental breaks to keep things going, keeping up to date with continuous and/or intermittent training or establishing team dynamics to delegate.

Define a feasible schedule

When you set a real schedule you have to define the time for each task and work on the most important ones first. Here, it can happen to us that when planning we overestimate our time.

In other words, it is very common to plan a day thinking that we are going to be able to complete 5 tasks, but in the end we only finish 3.

That doesn’t mean we are not productive, but perhaps we didn’t plan our schedule correctly. Therefore, it is important to measure the time we will need for each step, and really take into account how long each task included in the plan will demand.

invest in tools

Finally, another of the best keys to proper time management is the use of tools specially designed to help us prioritize and plan our daily routine.

There are tools for everything; for organizing your time, projects, tasks or teams, for brainstorming ideas, calculate the hours spent… In short, these are the solutions that allow us to take control (as far as possible).

time management tools

time management tools

As I have just commented, there are very useful tools for time management, so that you can organize the day to day tasks, plan new projects or establish priorities.

They help us save time, be more productive, better organize our daily lives and stop procrastinating. When you integrate them into your day to day tasks, you will notice the difference. What’s more, you’ll probably have a hard time if you have to stop working with them.

Let’s see those tools!

Google Calendar

Google has tools for everything, but this one could help you to organize your schedule. As its name suggests, this solution is based on a digital calendar with multiple features:

● Organize meetings and events.

● Invite other users to these meetings.

● Generate a video call link in just a few clicks.

● Block time slots for certain tasks.

● Share calendars with other people on the team.

Trello

It is one of the simplest time management tools, but it is extremely useful. It allows you to organize tasks in order of priority, classify them by projects, set alarms to notify you of upcoming deadlines and work collaboratively with other people, assigning them tasks.

Provides a broad view of the project. At a glance we can see which tasks have been completed, which ones are in process and the tasks we should work on first.

Toggl

If what you need is to understand how much time each task or project requires, in order to later calculate its profitability or use this data to better plan time by establishing priorities, you should check this tool.

You will have to open a project and create the tasks you want to measure. When you are ready to start a new task, just access the platform and start the timer. When you are done, just stop it.

Basecamp

As soon as you access this tool, you will see a dashboard where all your projects will be organized. Within each project, you will find a list of tasks. And for each task, you can include a description, deadlines and the people involved.

It is a very good solution for companies with large teams. In the calendar view, you can check what phase of the project you are in and all the unfinished tasks. In addition, it facilitates communication between all the company’s workers through its bulletin boards.

Teamwork

This other system is similar to the previous one, but we can highlight that it helps to control expenses for each project.

In other words, in addition to having a complete vision of how the project is going and what phase it is in, it is possible to control the associated costs. It is a fantastic ally of productivity, but also of profitability for companies.

Hootsuite

If we talk about time management, we should also have to check tools that help us improve our productivity. In other words, we can complete more tasks in less time, since Hootsuite helps us save time on social media management.

If you have a company or business, it is probably something that you will have to do. With tools like this, you will be able to schedule and track your posts very easily.

Mailrelay

In line with the above, Mailrelay is also a tool that helps us save time. With this email marketing software, we can schedule newsletters, automate campaigns and view metrics with detailed reports.

Also, with its visual editor, we can create professional emails without spending time designing them through tedious HTML code.

Asana

It could be said that this application is similar to several of the previous ones such as Basecamp or Teamwork, but it has a particularity that makes it stand out and it is related to time management and priorities.

It includes a feature that allows you to easily prioritize tasks to improve productivity and efficiency at work. The perfect tool for working with different teams!

Monday

Once again, this is a tool designed to improve the productivity and time management for companies. Among its features, we can establish due dates and assig tasks to other members.

It is also possible to access an overview of the status of tasks and projects from its main panel. We can also see what tasks are pending for the next few days.

Holded

Finally, I want to tell you about a tool that saves a lot of time, especially for those people on the team who work in the administrative department.

With Holded you can create invoices, perform bank reconciliations, control expenses and payments, record relevant information, and much more, with just a few clicks. That is, tasks that are normally done manually and that require a lot of time, can be easily executed with this application.

*My advice: Choose those tools that really save you time, help you be more productive and serve to prioritize tasks. It would be better not to start with those that are complex, confusing and need an excessive period of learning.

To conclude… some examples of time management

In order to give you examples of time management, we need to think about the day-to-day of a specific business. For instance:

● A web development company. In this case, it would be essential to have a process broken down into stages and, within each stage, to break down the tasks you would work on first. Some of the tools that can work best here are Asana, Basecamp, Teamwork or Monday.

● If you work as a freelancer. Perhaps, in your day-to-day life, you will find it more convenient to use applications such as Trello, Toggl and Google Calendar. With Trello you can organize your projects, with Toggl you have control of the time each task takes up, and with Google Calendar you can organize your day-to-day by time blocks.

As you can see, we could give many examples of time management. What I advise you is to review your particular case and, thus, choose those solutions that best suit your goals and daily needs.

If you own a company or small business, I definitely recommend working with tools like those already mentioned. Your staff will be better organized, they will know what their priorities are and they will feel more comfortable in their role.

Surely the benefits will not be long in coming! Think that time management is the way to achieve those long-awaited results, or have you not thought about it? —- Article translated by Micheli.

Teresa Alba

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