How to improve your time management skills at work

First published: 18-09-2014

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Bruce Lee was once quoted as saying ''If you truly love life, don't waste time; because time is what life is made of'' - and who would have dared to argue with the late, great, martial arts expert and star of Enter the Dragon? Time is most certainly a precious thing, but it's something many of us struggle to manage on a day-to-day basis.

How many times has a day passed you by so quickly, you've been left wishing there were just a few extra hours to get everything done? Sadly, that will never be a reality - as sure as night turns to day, we will only ever have 24 hours to do everything that needs to be done (and don't forget you need to eat, sleep and live during that time too!).

So what can you do about it? As you would assume, we know a thing or two about time here at Watch Shop, so here are a few tips to help you get the most out of what some argue is the most precious commodity of all and we promise to keep it snappy; we wouldn't want to waste your time now, would we?

Get organised


The best way to keep track of tasks and daily commitments is to write them down. No matter how hard you try, unless you have a photographic memory, you will simply not remember all the tasks you are assigned and the one you forget will come back to bite you on the bum. Whether it involves carrying a pen and paper, email reminders, an alarm or a to-do list in your smartphone, choose a method that works for you and stick to it.

Set realistic targets


If a task is going to take you two hours, allow yourself two and half or even three hours where possible. You must allow for natural interruptions, whether it's assisting a colleague, answering the phone or finding yourself suffering from a bout of writers block. Be realistic and you will stand a much better chance of meeting your deadlines.

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Prioritise effectively


If you have five tasks to complete in a day, the temptation would be to do the three 'nice to do' tasks first, then the other two later. Don't. Get the biggest tasks that are hanging over your head done first, when you are potentially fresher and more energetic and save the things that come naturally and easier to you for later in the day when your caffeine buzz has worn off.

Avoid distractions


In situations where your immediate attention is not crucial to business requirements, don't be afraid to lock yourself away in a quiet location away from the distractions that come with a typical office. Where possible, turn off your email, switch Facebook notifications off on your mobile and keep the telephone out of earshot - you'll be amazed how much extra work you can get done.

Don't be afraid to say no


If you find yourself slowly being swallowed and consumed by your work schedule, don't be afraid to say no to extra work - within reason of course; you don't want to lose business or worse still, be fired! More often than not, the person asking you may have someone else in mind to do the work or may even be able to do it themselves if they could be bothered.  Learn to say no and avoid the becoming that 'yes' person that others take advantage of.

Become a creature of habit


For all our complexities, we humans are simple folk and more often than not, creatures of habit. If you don't do so already, apply this to your work and try to do things at a certain time on a certain day. The more structured your calendar is, the more likely things are to get done.

Frankie says relax


All work and no play made Jack Nicholson a very dull boy in the classic film The Shining and we all know what happened to him right?! Avoid these pitfalls; go grab a drink, have a catch up with a colleague or even indulge in some exercise, schedule permitting of course. Taking a break will make you feel re-energised and ready to take on the rest of the day.

Sort your life out


Whilst it's important to wind down when you're not at work, small changes in your personal time can make big changes at work. Simple things like ensuring your work attire is ironed and ready the night before, making sure you don't skip breakfast, preparing a packed lunch and most importantly, getting a good night's sleep! Stick to this and you'll always go into work armed and ready for whatever the day can throw at you.

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Send out an S.O.S!


For those of you too busy to find time to invest in some or all of the above, perhaps it's time you asked for some help.  Being constantly overworked will inevitably lead to shoddy workmanship and even worse, exhaustion. Can anybody else take on some of your work, or is it time to look at employing a new team member? Hard work pays off in the end, but remember that you shouldn't live to work 100% of the time; otherwise, what's the point in living at all?

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