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Last Updated on October 30, 2018

10 Practical Ways to Drastically Improve Your Time Management Skills

10 Practical Ways to Drastically Improve Your Time Management Skills

Do you often feel stressed out with too much of workload? As time passes by, do you feel like you have more tasks on hand than you have time to do them or you could have effectively use your time to complete all the given tasks?

The trick is to organize your tasks and use your time effectively to get more things done each day. This can help you to lower stress level and do better at workplace.

Time management is a skill that takes time to develop and is different for each person. You just need to find what works best for you.

Here are 10 ways that you can use to improve time management skills and increase productivity:

1. Delegate tasks

It is common for all of us to take more tasks than our desired potential. This can often result in stress and burnout.

Delegation is not running away from your responsibilities but is an important function of management. Learn the art of delegating work to your subordinates as per their skills and abilities and get more achieved:

The Careful Art of Delegation

2. Prioritize work

Before the start of the day, make a list of tasks that need your immediate attention. Unimportant tasks can consume much of your precious time. Some urgent tasks need to be completed on that day only while other unimportant tasks could be carried forward to next day.

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In short, prioritize your important tasks to focus on those that are more important.

Here’s an effective technique to help you:

Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster.

3. Schedule tasks

Carry a planner or notebook with you and list all the tasks that come to your mind.

Make a simple ‘To Do’ list before the start of the day, prioritize the tasks and focus on the essentials. Make sure that these tasks are attainable too. 

To better manage your time management skills, you may think of making 3 lists: work, home and personal.

4. Set up deadlines

When you have a task at hand, set a realistic deadline and stick to it.

Try to set a deadline few days before the task so that you can complete all those tasks that may get in the way. Challenge yourself and meet the deadline; reward yourself for meeting a difficult challenge.

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To make setting and meeting deadlines work for you, learn these:

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

5. Avoid procrastination

Procrastination is one of the things that badly affect productivity. It can result in wasting essential time and energy. It could be a major problem in both your career and your personal life.

Avoid procrastination at all cost, learn from this step-by-step guide:

What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating)

6. Avoid stress

Stress often occurs when we accept more work than our ability. The result is that our body starts feeling tired which can affect our productivity.

Besides delegating tasks to your juniors to help reduce your burden, try these:

5 Ways To Turn Stress Into Productivity.

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7. Avoid multitasking

Most of us feel that multitasking is an efficient way of getting things done but the truth is that we do better when we focus and concentrate on one thing. Multitasking hampers productivity and should be avoided to improve time management techniques.

Make use of to-do lists and deadlines to help you stay focus! This way you can do better at what you’re doing.

If you find yourself easily distracted and hard to focus. Try doing this!

8. Start early

Most of the successful men and women have one thing in common — they start their day early as it gives them time to sit, think and plan their day. Here’s the reason why productive people always wake up early.

When you get up early, you are more calm, creative and clear-headed. As the day progresses, your energy levels starts going down which affects your productivity and you may not perform as well.

To stop dragging from bed and start waking up energeticlly, it’s actually easier than you thought, take a look at this guide:

How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

9. Take regular breaks

Whenever you find yourself for 10-15 minutes, take a break. Too much stress can take a toll on your body and affect your productivity.

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Even better, schedule your break times. It helps you to relax and gets back to work with energy again later.

Take a walk, listen to some music or do some quick stretches. The best idea is to take off from work and spend time with your friends and family.

10. Learn to say no

Politely refuse to accept additional tasks if you think that you’re already overloaded with work. Take a look at your ‘To Do’ list before agreeing to take on extra work.

If you have problems saying no, these tips will be useful for you:

11 Ready Tips to Say No To Others

The bottom line

Now that you’ve learned all these practical time management tips, start from listing out everything you need to do, prioritize them and decide what can delegate to others. Then schedule the tasks with deadlines set and schedule your break times too.

When you get clear about what’s on your plate, you’ll not get distracted by others and you’ll get more done in less time!

Good time management requires daily practice of prioritizing tasks and organizing them in a way that can save time while achieving more.

Use the above strategies for few weeks and see if they can help you!

Editors’ Picks on Time Management

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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Rinkesh Kukreja

The founder of Conserve Energy Future, trying to educate people how to save energy and sharing entrepreneurship and management tips

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Last Updated on February 18, 2019

How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

These days, in a world with cognitive, AI, and extraordinary advances, we have failed at the most basic stimulus: motivation. Why do I say so? Just take a look at these statistics:

58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training as per a CareerBuilder.com survey. Only 12% of employees leave their jobs because of more money. Research indicates that around 80% of employees leave their jobs due to “lack of appreciation”. Due to fear of failing, more than half of American workers don’t take their paid vacations. 53% of Americans are unhappy at work (not engaged). And 1 in 3 are working in a field they don’t like.[1]

Archaic people management and HR structures are the root cause.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

So how to motivate employees and boost team productivity?

Here are 3 key things that you can do to motivate your employees and boost team productivity:

1. Run Your Team/Group/Company like a Lean Startup

The Lean Startup phenomena by Eric Ries has been socialized across millions all over the globe. In a nutshell, it is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.[2]

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Encourage Your Employees

When you empower your employees (or family members) to do what they deem to be best for a particular roadblock, idea, or improvement, you create magic. You create genuine trust. You enable innovation. The result is happy, inspired employees who feel they have a say in the grand cosmic stage at work.

Note that increasing the competency level of employees and coaching and mentoring them along the way is key. You yourself, need to do the same. Nourish your brain – and get a mentor that will keep you at the edge of your game.

Offer Rewards

Motivation is also intrinsic. The startups I have worked at offered instant rewards — not just fat checks or equity increments, but Oscar-style nominations.

The non-monetary rewards were actually more coveted, and grandiose: lunch with the CEO, tickets to an Obama fund-raiser, horse-back riding with a world-class equestrian.

Compare this to a dodgy, corporate, white-cubicle dinosaur that had a “yearly performance review” where both parties dread the conversation. In a world of instant WhatsApp messages, having a conversation about performance, likes and dislikes cannot just happen annually in 60 minutes. Employees need to be rooted in the belief that their manager genuinely cares about them.

Give Autonomy

Another key attribute is autonomy. Most employees start brushing their resumes and cruising LinkedIn when their hands are tied in their current positions: approval forms, long meetings, escalations, and more meetings. In the world of agile and scrum masters, deliberating for the sake of deliberating is poison. You will choke the very employees that giddily accepted the job initially to “change the world”.

Within a reasonable realm of assessment and deep-dives, trust your employees to do the heavy lifting. Give them access to the knowledge, people and resources that help them directly make the choices that will shape the future of your team, and your company.

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Eliminate yourself as the bottleneck – and interject yourself as a benevolent, servant leader that is the symbol of high-performing organizations.

2. Apply the 90/90/1 Rule

I recently saw a video by Deepak Sharma (a leadership adviser) about productivity and this principle stuck with me. Here’s what it’s about:

Devote the First 90 Minutes of Your Day to Important Project

For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your day to your most important project—nothing else. Do this for yourself and your employees.

We usually get sucked into the most wasteful, operational activities in the morning which robs our focus, and steers us into an unwanted rabbit hole. So mute your notifications, avoid the temptation to check your exploding inbox, and scroll your Instagram feed later. Instead, focus on that ONE thing that will provide real value to you, your team, or your business/company/home.

Apply this rule to yourself – and your team. Your team will thank you. Note: If you’re feeling really stretched for time, you can always hack the rule by testing out a “45/45/1” version.

A To Do Scheduling System

Another version of this is to use the Kanban concept, developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. Kanban is a scheduling system employing boards and cards.

The most basic version is a canvas with “To-do”, “Doing”, and “Done” boards (or columns). Each activity or task is a “card” that moves from one column to the other. I use Trello (a Kanban-inspired app) that is a key system for my personal and professional life. It allows me to understand my workload, their priority, and due dates.

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I use importance and effort metrics (scores) for each task to understand what is truly necessary in my life to work on. It negates the FIFO (first-in, first out) paradox that has plagued millions of people. Instead, it allows me to take stock of what is on my plate, and then bite on what truly will move the needle for me, my team, my life, and my company.

With a limited appetite (at least for some), would you eat the veggies, fries, mashed potatoes and leave the sizzling steak? No, you wouldn’t (unless you are a vegan and ended up in the wrong restaurant).

Approach your work with a weighted vengeance – and encourage your team to do the same.

3. Align Passion and Skills to Purpose

The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion.

“The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are—that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” — Richard Leider

An ace team-member once told me that while she enjoys working for the company we both used to work at, she really hated anything to do with technology. She was more of a “people” person, and did not want to sit behind a desk sifting through lines of code.

What struck me was that she was in that role for more than a decade and had just spoken up. The good thing is she spoke up. She expressed her desire and interests. And it allowed her to get into a role of her liking within 30 days.

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Ask If They like What They’re Doing

If you, or a team member is frustrated, demotivated, or not performing at their best – one of the questions you should ask is whether they like what they are doing. Then genuinely try to help them get to the role they should be in (whether in the same team/company or not).

There’s a reason why 53% of Americans (and perhaps more or same across the globe) are unhappy at work. A butcher cannot be an ace salad maker. Pursue your passion – and help pave the way for your team. Unlock your potential and theirs. You will command and lead a supercharged team.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

The Bottom Line

Sometimes, passion has to be ignited. It is dormant, clouded by busy-ness, buried by wrong career choices, and plagued by non-supportive eco-systems. Some will climb out of it, but we as society — and in the case of business teams — incumbent upon the manager/CEO/leader to foster, grow, and nurture the employee.

Teach her the ropes. Show her the path. Advise him as you would yourself. Let them lead, and make mistakes. Do not fear them, rather make them the leader you would want to become.

For your not-so-great team members, understand that it is not personal, it is just not a good fit. Help them move on to the pastures they would be fit to graze on. Hence, hire slow (and fire fast).

Your team is a reflection of you. Boosting their confidence and helping them achieve the impossible is motivation. Focus on that, and you will have a productive team that you and your company will be proud of.

More Resources About Team Management

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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