HomeDaily DigestTime Management: Maximize your Efficiency in the New Year

Time Management: Maximize your Efficiency in the New Year

Abraham Lincoln

Though we all get the same 24 hours – 1,440 minutes – 86,400 seconds each day, some of us feel that this time is insufficient for us. How we use our time depends on our time management skills. Many of us would have taken a new year resolution to manage our time better. And now, a few days into the new year we may have already gone off track. But it’s never too late to regroup and try again. So let’s refresh on what is time management and how we can do it better.

Time management is the process of planning, organizing and controlling the scheduled activities. Good time management will enhance personal and professional productivity, lower stress, speed up work progress, and eliminate delays in achieving our goals. Here are a few suggestions to manage time well to improve your efficiency this year.

Prioritize the tasks

You need to create a list of tasks and categorize them according to their importance and urgency. Stephen Covey offers an excellent time management tool, known as the Eisenhower matrix, in his book, “First Things First”. This matrix certainly helps us to set our priorities. There are four quadrants mentioned in the Eisenhower Matrix. Let us consider the contents of each quadrant:

Quadrant 1 – Important and urgent: These tasks have the highest priorities and to be completed with urgency.

Quadrant 2 – Important but not urgent: These tasks are important, but they can be done without urgency.

Quadrant 3 – Urgent but not important: These tasks need immediate attention but are not important. We can delegate or eliminate them as they do not directly affect our outputs. We have to concentrate more on this quadrant.

Quadrant 4 – Not urgent and not important: These tasks play little role and should be avoided as far as possible.

We all tend to prioritize urgent tasks instead of important ones. It is better to check our priorities time and again.

Set SMART Goals for better time management

We should set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals in our profession, studies and projects. The SMART goal setting will provide a clear direction and help us to achieve tasks more comfortably. If the goal setting is not aligning with the time and quantum of work, we will have unexpected pressures.

Make Schedules

We all should have yearly planners with monthly, weekly and daily schedules. We cannot visualize all tasks at the beginning of the year except for some primary events. Detailed work should be updated weekly and monthly. In addition to the daily routines, we should add tasks daily to our schedules as they come along. Many useful personal planning tools like planners, calendars, mobile apps, wall charts, index cards, pocket diaries, and mini notebooks are available.

Writing down our tasks, schedules, and things to remember will help us focus on our priorities. Review the listed work daily. We can also make your to-do list digitally on our mobiles and these should have backups.

Avoid Procrastination

In general, people put off tasks for various reasons. One of the main reasons is the task may not be pleasant or something they like to do. According to Mark Twain, “If it’s your job to eat a frog today, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first”. The frog here indicates the task that appears to be unpleasant. We can break the unpleasant work into smaller tasks and finish them one-by-one. There are many techniques like Pomodoro technique, Timeboxing, etc. which can help us overcome procrastination and manage time better.

Delegate Whenever Possible

If we try to handle all the work by ourselves, our work load will become too much and the quantum of work may crush us and we may even end up not completing anything. Delegating work, especially those tasks which are urgent but not important, is a good time management technique. We need to find the right people, delegate some of our work and monitor them.

Review and evaluate tasks

Preferably a weekly review will help us understand the progress of the various tasks and the challenges that exist in our progression. It will help us strategize better to overcome the challenges and it will also expose the effectiveness (or lack thererof) of our time management skills. Based on the review and evaluation of tasks frequently, we can develop our skills and make necessary adjustments.

Manage time better by saving time

We can save time if we do SMART work instead of hard work. We waste time searching for information or documents, talking for a long time on the phone amid tight schedules, and keeping ourselves engaged with people or activities that will slow down our productivity. We can set aside time to organise our documents and files in a way that makes it easier to find. It is better to make all important communications via email only. We can set a specific time for responding to emails. Unsubscribing from all junk mail will also save us time.

Attending necessary calls for a short duration will help us to save time. Texting can be a suitable alternative for talking on the phone. Allocating a specific time for visitors and setting time limits for discussions are helpful. We can organize virtual meetings instead of in-person ones whenever possible. Posting announcements and meeting agendas in WhatsApp groups will save time.

We may have resolved to be more productive and to achieve new goals in the new year. Managing time well is the first step to being more productive. We may have failed multiple times but let’s keep at it until we succeed!


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