Time Management Best Suited to You
If you're anything like us, you've probably wondered why there just aren't enough hours in the day to do everything you need to do. I mean, who hasn't looked at their to-do list and thought, "Yeah, I can totally fit in a 3-hour nap in between all of this, right?"
Time management is an essential skill for any employee and it has been a particularly popular topic internally at Willow Oak.
Since the beginning, we have firmly believed that time management is not only important for running a business, but in all areas of our lives. However, as business owners and full-time mamas, we understand that finding the time to focus on time management strategies isn’t always at the top of mind.
This is why we’ve put together a list of some of our favourite strategies on how you can optimize your time so it is best suited to your needs both at work, and in your everyday life.
What is time management?
Broken down, time management is the ability to complete your work within specific deadlines. It is a crucial skill for achieving success and involves prioritizing tasks, allocating time and staying focused to accomplish your goals more efficienctly. Effective time management can reduce stress, increase motivation and improve your overall performance.
One of the biggest components of time management that is known, yet not often fully understood, is the need to be productive. Productivity can be thought of as a multi-level ability, as it can be measured and improved at different levels, such as individual, team, departmental, and organizational levels.
There is always a lot of talk around being productive but what does it really mean to improve and optimize your individual productivity?
Here are some strategies that can help optimize productivity:
1. Know your sweet spots
When do you work the best? Start to notice what time of day, time periods and environments you feel most productive in. These settings are when you should assign yourself your toughest tasks as they are when and where you are most efficient.
What are your best ‘sprints’? Do you complete tasks better in 20, 30, or 60 minute intervals? Understand what works best for you and layout your day/tasks in specific increments suited to your workstyle. Use timers or your preferred scheduling method to help you stay on track. Don’t forget to take breaks. Begin to pay attention to how long you need between tasks to feel refreshed. Breaks can improve your mental health, increase your energy levels and your ability to focus.
2. Respect your boundaries
This is a challenging area for both of us and we will admit we are not the best at setting boundaries around time and tasks. One way we like to reframe boundaries is by saying “help me help you”. By communicating our boundaries and others respecting these boundaries, we have been able to operate and function at higher levels without the stressors that come along with unrealistic expectations.
When we set boundaries, we notice we are able to achieve greater success, productivity, and satisfaction in both our personal and professional lives.
As Brene Brown says “Setting boundaries means getting clear on what behaviors are okay and what's not okay. Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind”.
3. Understand your strengths and weaknesses
When you know your strengths and weaknesses, you will have a better understanding of what to delegate when you are able to do so. The first tasks you should pass on are the ones that you consider to be your weaknesses. By handing these tasks off to someone else, you are freeing up your time to focus on duties you are more proficient with.
Additionally, when we have a better understanding of our strengths and weaknesses, we become more aware of our tendency to skip over specific tasks, particularly the ones we don’t feel as confident with. Knowing this allows us to implement strategies, such as a to-do-list to ensure we come back to tasks we skipped over at a later time.
Find a method to keep track of your tasks and understand what keeps you motivated. When it comes to keeping track, some prefer the simple pen and paper method, some like task management apps, others fancy planners, or if you’re Courtney, you have a mess of half-written email drafts filled with meeting notes. The satisfaction of checking off a task is enough for some, while others prefer a break or reward-based motivation. We love to stop and go for a short walk in Ladner village or more recently, we’ve been taking a break to do 20 minutes of yoga!
Finding the right method for planning out your tasks and staying on track is subjective. If you have yet to find a system that works best for you, we suggest trying a few methods out until you find the one that sticks.
At Willow Oak, we are all about supporting small businesses achieve their goals and we want to do this by helping you free up time so you can focus your attention, time and energy on other matters.
What are some strategies you’ve found to help keep you on track? Comment below, we’d love to hear from you.