The key to being successful isn’t some miracle formula or a stroke of luck; it’s about having great time management skills. This skill is important for both entrepreneurs and employees, whether they work in a shared office setting or from their kitchen table, alone or on a team.
Having great time management skills is the difference between doing ok and excelling at one’s career. Here are a few simple ways to organize your working time properly.
Track Your Actions
Track the time you spend working each day on specific tasks. If you are a project manager working with a team, use a tracking tool like Clockspot to measure the time your people are spending on tasks and reconcile it with the work that’s getting done.
It’s important to track non-work tasks as well. How long are you spending eating lunch and surfing the web? How long are you spending doing things that have little or no value throughout the day? People often waste time subconsciously, failing to notice how much a few minutes here and there are adding up during the day. Having that information presented in a useful way can be the foundation of change.
Make a List with an MIT
Set aside ten minutes each morning to make a list of all the things that have to get done during the day, and assign a “most important task” or MIT. This is the task that outranks everything on the list. You may even identify two or three. This exercise tells you the big rocks that need to get done before moving onto the rest.
Assigning an MIT is more effective than an A-B-C prioritized list, as C items often get put off repeatedly until they become an MIT due to deadlines. By using the MIT method, you put equal value on all of the remaining tasks on your list after the MIT has been completed.
Use the Eisenhower Decision Matrix
The Eisenhower Decision Matrix is a productivity tool that helps make strategic decisions about tasks. It is a powerful tool to use when trying to find a work-life balance or when attempting to get numerous things done throughout the working day.
When using the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, you assign tasks into four quadrants:
- Urgent and Important
- Not Urgent but Important
- Urgent and Not Important
- Not Urgent and Not Important
This framework will help you decide which tasks you should focus on throughout the day. For example, a deadline at noon for a big project is both urgent and important, making it a category one task. On the other hand, checking Facebook is a category four task that has no value.
Create the Space
Organizing your working time properly is taught in Kindergarten. You must make sure you have your materials ready and listen well to the instructions provided to you. The same routines apply in preparing your workspace.
Is your laptop charged? Do you have the highlighters ready to start your bank reconciliation? Do you have your coffee, pen, and notebook for your big meeting? By being prepared before starting a task, you reduce the necessity of interruptions and distractions that can disrupt your workflow.
Learning strong time management skills will benefit not only the quality of your work but trickle into other areas of your life. Know what you’re doing, what you need to do, and why these actions count to start organizing your working time better.