Time Management Improvement Tips

How to Be More Productive, Meet Deadlines and Make the Most of Your Day

Businessman on cellphone looking at watch
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If you are like most busy people, you probably feel like you have more things to do in a day than you have time to do them. Our lives are packed with so much work to do and so many deadlines to meet that we could all use more hours in a day to deal with all our responsibilities. Unfortunately, you can't make your days longer. And let's be real. Even if you could, would you choose to spend more hours working anyway?

These time management tips that will help you be more productive at work, meet deadlines and make the most of each day.

Get Organized

Good organizational skills will save you a lot of time. To be productive, you need an organized work area and routine. Before you begin a project, the first thing you must do is make sure everything required to execute it is easily accessible. If you have to start searching for supplies, or example, it will interrupt your workflow. Keep your desk neat. If it is messy, you will spend more time looking for things than tending to your tasks.

Next, make a plan for how you will approach your project. Break down a large project into smaller, manageable parts. It will keep you from feeling overwhelmed, which could cause you to procrastinate. That will, more than anything else, destroy your ability to get work done on time. Decide what step you will need to tend to before you move on to the next one and so on.

Then consider how much time it will take to complete each one. Then set deadlines for all the steps you've identified.

Keep a Prioritized "To Do" List

A single "to do" list will let you stay organized and help you keep track of all your work in one place. Include on it every project and task for which you are responsible.

To ensure that you complete work in a timely fashion, list items by order of their deadlines. When dealing with a task that doesn't have an actual due date—for example, a chore you must regularly take care of like filing—make one up. Those chores have a way of piling up. Assigning a due date can keep that from happening.

There are many "to do" list apps you can use on your computer or mobile device, but some people prefer to use good old-fashioned paper and pen. Try different methods and choose whichever one works best for you. Make sure to check or cross off items as you complete them. It will give you a sense of accomplishment. That can be very motivating. If you just remove items from your list, you won't realize how much work you have done.

Learn to Delegate

You may be trying to do everything yourself when you should instead be delegating jobs to members of your team. Of course only assign work to others if you have the right to do so. Many people don't do this as much as they should because of an unrealistic fear that no one can do the job as good as they can.

Another reason you may avoid delegating work to others it that you don't know how to do it. It is in your best interests, and your organization's, to learn this important management skill.

You will have to decide what work to assign and who on your staff can do it. It may involve additional work for you at the beginning—you may have to provide training—but will pay off in the end when your workload is lighter.

Schedule Regular Breaks

Make sure to take regular breaks. It may seem counter-intuitive to think that not working will allow you to get more done, but it will. If you schedule breaks at regular intervals—let's say 10 minutes off for every one hour on task—you will be less likely to goof off when you should be working. The few minutes off will also allow you to clear your head, which will let you focus better when you return to your task.