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People Who Manage Their Time Well Follow These 3 Rules

People Who Manage Their Time Well Follow These 3 Rules

I’m sure you are constantly told to manage your time better, because it boosts your efficiency, saves time, and reduces stress. Everyone knows the benefits of a better time management, but how many of us could actually do it?

Most of us like to procrastinate and realize we don’t have much time left, then the thought of having a lot of unfinished tasks stresses you out. If you find yourself working last minute, or submitting your task late, your time management needs some help.

Before I tell you how you could manage your time better, you need to know what it means to have good time management.

Good time management doesn’t mainly focus on quantity.

To most people, managing your time well equals getting more done in less time.

Say you have 20 things to do within 10 hours, and you successfully finish all the tasks on time. The more things you can accomplish in a limited time frame, the better your time management is.

Without a doubt, you finish everything on your to-do list on time, but is this the most effective way to manage your time?

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It is more effective to focus on quality.

Time management is basically organizing and planning how much time you spend on the tasks in hand. Having better time management takes time and skill. The more effective time management focuses on doing a few things with great importance, which means quality over quantity.

Focus on the results rather than the activities. It’s good to keep track of how much you have done, but it is more important to decide on what you should pursue on how much value you could add.

When you don’t feel stressed or overburdened as you move from one task to the other, you know you have a better time management. Here are 3 ways to improve your time management skills:

1. Prioritize your tasks according to their importance and urgency

Before you work on the tasks on your to-do list, you have to know which ones are urgent and important. This is the Eisenhower’s principle.

  • Important tasks lead you to achieve your personal goals; while
  • Urgent activities are immediate, with instant consequences, these tasks are usually associated with achieving someone else’s goal.

The Eisenhower’s principle suggests prioritization of tasks into four levels:

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    1. Important and urgent: These tasks should be dealt with FIRST. They are either unexpected issues or those you have waited until the very last minute to work on. You can plan ahead to avoid the latter from happening, but for unplanned surprises, leave some time out in your schedule to allow room for buffering.
    2. Important but not urgent: These activities are important to achieve your goals, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time to work on.
    3. Not important but urgent: These are the roadblocks to block you from accomplishing your own tasks, and they are usually from others. Don’t be worried to say “no” or delegate the tasks to someone else. But do leave some slots open, in case people really need your help.
    4. Not important and not urgent: Always avoid these tasks. They are simply distractions.

    The main key to better prioritize your tasks is leaving slots of time out to make sure you have enough time if something goes wrong.

    2. Smartly use leverage to gain more

    There are many approaches to one task, and all of them are effective, but to truly make use of the least effort for the greatest returns, apply the concept of leverage to finish your task.

    One of the ways to make the most out of everything is to find common patterns in tasks and set up a workflow so you can smoothly finish all the tasks you need without spending unnecessary extra time and energy.

    Say you need to write 3 articles in 10 hours. You dissect the processes in writing a article, like research, writing, and proofreading. You then develop a workflow to avoid writing while researching, then going back to edit your article.

    Another way is to leverage other’s time. I have mentioned there are “not important but urgent”, and these are the tasks you can delegate to ease your burdens.

    Here are more suggestions on leveraging your time.

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    3. Give yourself timed sessions and short breaks

    Sometimes, spending too much time on a single task can actually backfire. The law of diminishing returns suggests there’s a point where the level of profits may not be in proportion to the level of investment.

    To better your time management, you have to keep in mind to not over-invest your time in certain tasks. You can use the Pomodoro Technique[1] to avoid working overtime.

    The Pomodoro Technique is developed in 1980s. The Italian word “pomodoro” means “tomato”. The technique is simple — divide and structure your work in 25-minute sessions (or pomodori), with a 5-minute break in between.

    Say you are working a presentation, you estimate you need around 125 minutes to complete the task. You divide the task into five 25-minute sessions with a short break in between. Make sure the sessions don’t clash with your other plans or commitments. Set a timer to 25 minutes and start your work. Take a rest after each session then repeat until the sessions are over. Take a 20 to 30-minute break afterwards.

    Use technology to start bettering your time management.

    It might be difficult to incorporate the Eisenhower’s principle, the concept of leverage, and Pomodoro Technique all into one for a better time management. Here are three time management apps to help you along the way:

    MyLifeOrganized (MLO)

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      The first step to better your time management is organization. MLO offers help for you to target what you want to accomplish in order to meet your objectives. It generates to-do lists for you, prioritize your tasks, and track your actions.

      Toggl

        It’s always good to have a log sheet to time yourself. Toggl helps you to manage your time better by tracking how much time you spent on each and every task.

        Focus Booster

          Have you ever wandered off to somewhere else while working on something important? Focus Booster uses the Pomodoro Technique and allows you to set a timed sessions for better focus and work quality.

          Reference

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          Frank Yung

          Writer. Storyteller. Foodie.

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          Last Updated on January 6, 2021

          14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

          14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

          Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

          In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

          For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

          For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

          Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

          Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

          Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

          How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

          Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

          1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

          Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

          For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

          2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

          Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

          Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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          Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

          3. Create a System

          Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

          This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

          You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

          Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

          Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

          4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

          We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

          If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

          Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

          Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

          5. Use a Ratings Scale

          Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

          Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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          It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

          6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

          This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

          You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

          You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

          7. Offer Feedback Forms

          Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

          First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

          Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

          You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

          8. Track Cost Effectiveness

          This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

          Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

          Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

          9. Use Self-Evaluations

          Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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          Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

          10. Monitor Time Management

          This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

          Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

            The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

            While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

            11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

            We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

            Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

            For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

            Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

            Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

            From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

            12. Utilize Peer Feedback

            This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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            Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

            Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

            It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

            13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

            When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

            Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

            Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

            14. Use an External Evaluator

            Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

            They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

            While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

            Final Thoughts

            These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

            The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

            The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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            Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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