If you have difficulty assessing how to work efficiently, you are not alone. Most people struggle with getting things done in a logical way.
Distractions abound like never before, between texting and social media, it can be hard to focus on anything long enough to even discover its level of priority. And, in general, the consideration that surrounds time management is all about prioritization and trying to avoid just being reactive all the time.
For many people, work can get to the point where one is constantly putting out fires, rather than following a well thought out strategy. This can be disastrous when something relatively large goes wrong as it often means that contingencies are not in place. In addition, being only reactive is not a positive business technique. Ideally, you want your team and your individual work to reflect an active process that can move your company forward, rather than just being in the game of keeping up the status quo.
To accomplish this, there are many things you can do to give yourself the time to work more effectively. With all the different strategies available, you are bound to find one that connects with you and the way your work gets done. Here are some tips:
Take Time to Organize Your Work
In the moment, it can seem like a good idea to let things pile up in one place with the thought of going back to organize them later. However, it is always better to put things away in an organized way initially. Those with desktop screens full of icons know that they deeply regret a life of disorganization. It may seem like you don’t have time to put everything in the right place at a certain moment, but making that time will definitely pay off when you aren’t wasting time later searching for a file you desperately need.
Take Time to Analyze Strength & Weaknesses
If you cannot assess your problems and pain points, you will never be able to find out how to move forward. Taking time to sit down and understand where you are having issues is imperative. Maybe block out a period of time every week for this and assess why certain tasks aren’t getting done to your satisfaction, or of why parts of your work aren’t growing in the way you would like. Again, rather than being reactive, assessing your problem areas is key. Then you can also look at your strengths to see how you might better organize your time.
Try One of These Time Management Techniques
Sometimes it is difficult to know where to begin. To help organize your thoughts surrounding time management, there are a number of specific strategies that have been studied and found to be effective for many people. Consider taking up one of these (or several) to see what may work for you.
1. The 80/20 Rule
Often, 20% of actions are responsible for 80% of outcomes. This concept, also known as Pareto Analysis, suggests measuring the weight of each of your problems and tackling the most difficult ones first.
2. The Eisenhower Matrix
Often associated with the famous General and President, this technique uses four quadrants: the headings of important vs nonimportant and urgent vs nonurgent.
3. Pickle Jar Theory
A similar, though more esoteric, way of assessing your tasks is to imagine all of them as resting in a glass container. This Pickle Jar Theory has you assign the elements of your day as sand, pebbles or large rocks. The big stones are your most important tasks. These want to rest at the top of the jar. Pebbles are non-essential tasks that might be delegated or can wait. Sand represents the distractions that you face on a daily basis
Choose What’s Best For You
These are just a few of the techniques that are out there that allow you to look at your time in a new way. If you are a visual learner, check out the infographic below which contains more information on time management strategies as well as a flowchart to help assess which might be best for you.
Sierra Skelly is a writer from San Diego, where she helps create engaging content for companies like USA.edu. When she isn’t writing on the latest productivity hacks, you can find her reading at the beach or hiking. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Media Studies. One of Sierra’s favorite quotes is: “I believe that words are our most powerful weapon and that great content can change the world.”