Published on September 17, 2018
Updated on January 25, 2020
Read time 8 minutes
13 Effective Time Management Techniques for Agile Teams
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Late for work again? Can’t keep your focus on one task at a time because of heaps of workload on you? Fail to effectively manage daily errands and always run short of time? Not on time for an important appointment?
These are some of the scenarios that the majority of us have gone through during our lives and each time we run across one of these situations, they put a huge question mark on our time management skills.
It’s highly likely that you’ve even tried to solve this issue over the course of time but failed each time because one thing or the other didn’t work out in your favor. For this reason, you need to keep reading, because we’ve just gathered some of the most effective time management techniques for you!
For your ease, we’ve divided them into two main categories that accommodate both your personal and professional time management needs.
Effective time management at work
How you effectively manage time says a lot about your time utilization skills and it’s imperative that you show some at your workplace to come across as a trustworthy person for the job. For some people, time management turns out to be an easy task, while for others it can be quite a hassle.
The following list consists of some of the most effective time management tips that you can easily follow to increase your work productivity:
Begin your day at work by prioritizing the tasks that lie ahead of you. This is a great way to get a heads up for the rest of your day.
Prioritizing the work according to urgency would really help you with deciding the time you need to spend on each task and it’s also an effective way to decide which tasks require your utmost attention and which ones can be delayed for some time, essentially decluttering the heap of tasks.
So, without waiting any further, start prioritizing now! One useful tip to prioritize what’s important is using the Eisenhower Matrix for decision-making.
2. Optimize time spent on social media
Social media addiction is real. A survey of 1200 employees from different companies indicated that 18% of the respondents admitted to using social media 10 times or more during the day.
If you’re one of those people who consistently spend unnecessarily long hours on social media in the name of ‘getting a break from work’, then my dear friend! This is the problem. You need to get rid of this habit if you want to increase your output at work.
Find out how much time you’re spending daily on social media during the working hours and analyze your daily social media usage patterns. This evaluation will help you in analyzing the total time spent on social media, consequently helping you with decreasing this time as much as you can for improving your work efficiency.
3. Utilize peak energy hours
Each person has a ‘body clock’ that guides the person to eat, sleep, or work at specific times and it varies from person to person. For instance; my sleeping patterns could be different from you and vice versa.
Similarly, according to this body clock, the productivity levels at specific hours of the day also differ for each individual. According to Redbooth, typically a person would complete most tasks (9.7%) at around 11 AM. Afterward, productivity levels are likely to drop.
You might have heard from people around you that they’re not morning people or they work better at night. That stands true because for some of us mornings are glory and maximum output is delivered during the daytime, while for some others, night-time is comparatively more productive for work and their peak energy hours are found during them.
For effective time management at work, you need to identify your peak energy hours and plan your day around them. Get the most out of the day by working on high priority tasks during those hours. By doing so, you can achieve more in less time and can master the skill of completing your work on time.
So, don’t dread those deadlines at work and follow this simple technique to complete your work on time!
Observe time taken for key tasks and optimize your workflows for better management of time. Try to automate your tasks. One way to do this can be to delegate the most time-consuming ones into smaller subtasks to get more done. This division into smaller sub-tasks would also help you in understanding the nuances of the task.
Bonus tip: using professional time management tools
Let’s just admit that without proper tools or Software, it becomes a nuisance to efficiently manage all the individual and team tasks at work, which as a result makes time management difficult.
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5. Avoid multi-tasking
Yes, you heard that right! Multitasking is a myth. While you’re trying to accomplish multiple tasks at once, you’re really failing at all of them. To further elaborate on this point, there was an interesting series of experiments done by the experts at Stanford University, where they wanted to find out what edge do multitaskers have. Surprisingly, they had none!
The researchers concluded the study by saying that by trying to keep the focus on multiple things, multitaskers are always distracted and can’t keep their focus on one thing, hence damaging their cognitive control.
When you try to multitask, you’re not fully engaged in the task at hand and are constantly moving back and forth between tasks, therefore you cannot give in your maximum effort to one task. This results in decreased productivity and time wastage.
So, it’s safe to say that multitasking is not the best way to manage your time. Instead of squeezing more tasks into your work schedule, try to accomplish small meaningful ones that matter the most and manage your time in a better way.
6. Do related tasks together
It’s highly likely that you have more than one task in line for the day. In order to get all of them done at the right time, batch together the similar or related tasks. A simple reason to do this is that different kinds of tasks demand different abilities. By doing similar tasks together, your brain does not switch modes- keeping you alert and focused.
This simple time management technique for work is effective in a way that can really help you to keep all your tasks organized and prevents mental exhaustion which usually results from trying to accomplish multiple tasks during the day.
7. Take regular breaks
You’re at your workstation, feeling all productive and energized, ideas are flowing and everything seems to be working fine, but this won’t last forever. There will come a time when you’ll zone out and feel unfocused. That’s the time when you need a short break!
One of the effective time management techniques at work is to take regular small breaks throughout your working hours, as these small breaks help you stay focused. Taking a small break during a task is a great way to keep you concentrated on that particular task for longer periods of time.
An interesting phenomenon associated with effective time management is decision fatigue. Continuous decision making during the day, without any regular gaps, can result in decision fatigue, where the quality of decisions taken by a person is negatively affected. Citing a famous study here, Israeli judges were more likely to grant parole to the prisoners either at the very beginning of the workday OR after they had taken a food break. See the significance of taking a break?
Apart from the mental benefits, brief diversions from work can also prove to be extremely healthy for one’s physical health too. Prolonged sitting at the workplace puts you in face of higher health risks.
So, just stand up and take 5 minutes to break after every hour to refresh your mind and lift your mood to achieve effective time management at work.
Effective time management in personal life
As much as time management is critical at the workplace, it’s highly significant for your daily routine too. Some of the time management techniques that you can incorporate in your daily errands are:
8. Leverage to-do lists
To-do lists come in handy for almost every occasion. Planning your day or week beforehand gives you an edge to execute your activities on time.
Create a to-do list for all the things that you need to accomplish during the day or week, and watch how everything falls into place with this proactive planning tip. This list also helps you to understand the tasks that you don’t need to do or want to eliminate from your daily routine.
Start making a to-do list for your personal life and your routine would be all sorted out with everything being done according to proper coordination.
9. Add a buffer
Adding a buffer to your time schedule basically means buying some extra time between the activities to help you manage your time in a better way.
Let’s take an example here; you need to make it to a doctor’s appointment 2 hours from now. Considering the commute takes around 30 minutes, you will not leave after an hour and a half.
You will add a buffer and leave a little earlier so that you have bought yourself enough time to be there on time, in case anything else comes up or you’re stuck in traffic.
Adding buffers to your daily house chores or any other daily commitments will substantially save your time because, at the end of the day, these buffers would lead to all the work being done on time and as a bonus, you’ll end up with some extra time in your hands too!
10. Maintain a healthy sleep schedule
Getting enough sleep during your daily sleep-wake cycle is important to keep your concentration levels intact. Identify your sleep-wake cycle and choose the time that suits you well according to your body needs, then do all of the work with greater focus.
This technique will help you with having greater energies to fulfill your daily tasks successfully and with more punctuality.
11. Meditate or exercise often
Meditating or exercising for even a few minutes during the day regularly can greatly help in reducing stress and anxiety, a study suggests. You might think this will not be beneficial for effective time management, but doing this on a regular basis gives you balance and control over your mental capabilities, facilitating overall focus on tasks.
Cutting the toxins out of your body elevates the stamina and energy levels- putting you in a better condition to effectively manage your overall time. Besides exercise, there are some kinds of meditations that lead to a positive outlook of life and help in improving the self-esteem of a person. Invest your time in them.
The bottom-line? Set some time aside every day for meditation or a small workout and witness the drastic inner changes it brings along.
12. Develop keystone habits
Developing keystone habits lead to the development of other valuable habits. But, what exactly are keystone habits? You might be wondering! A keystone habit acts like a central stone, supporting other habits. By instilling even one keystone habit in your daily routine, you can give way to other productive ones effortlessly.
For instance; developing a keystone habit of reading at least two chapters of a book daily at night will help you in wisely spending your overall time and sparing some time for this habit. It will also result in mitigating the useless scrolling of social media at night and help you to sleep in peace.
These habits can pave ways for effective time management because, through one keystone habit, other extremely beneficial habits are generated, leading to unintended, positive outcomes.
13. Review your day
The last effective time management technique in our list is reviewing your day. Might sound a little childish, but trust us on this! After a long day of running errands, sit down in a quiet place and reflect on your day. Take notes, if necessary! Jot down all the tasks that you’ve accomplished and also the ones that you couldn’t owe to a shortage of time or whatever the reason might be.
Practicing this daily will help you in evaluating your daily routine and analyzing your time expenditure to better plan your next day and take better decisions.
In a nutshell, effective time management is not as complicated as it might seem and you’ll definitely agree with me if you start following some of the above-mentioned techniques.
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