On the job, time is money. Of course, you get paid for your time at work, but how effectively you spend that time also affects your company's bottom line. And if you work in an entrepreneurial-style environment
like the one we foster at AmTrust Financial – where individual responsibility is high and flexible scheduling is the norm – it's even more important to get a firm handle on your time management skills.
If you're struggling to stay on top of your daily tasks, or are just looking for ways to maximize your efficiency while on the clock, consider these time management strategies to help you get the most out of every hour of the day.
Plan your day in advance.
Each day before you leave work, take a few minutes to establish goals for the following day and prioritize your most important tasks. When you arrive in the morning, spend some time planning your day around the tasks you've prioritized. This advanced planning keeps you from spending time unproductively jumping from one thing to another with no clear purpose in mind.
Don't be afraid to say no.
Taking ownership of your work means knowing what you can and can't tackle. Sometimes, you may have to decline a request in order to accomplish more urgent or important tasks. Be honest with your co-workers about your availability, and don't take on more than you can handle. Of course, if you do have time to help a colleague, teamwork is always a good thing.
Know the outcome you want before you start a task.
Before you start a new task, take a minute to imagine what success looks like for that particular task. If it's a phone call with a customer, for example, what do you need to accomplish by the end of the call? Focusing on outcomes can save valuable time by orienting you directly toward your goals.
Eliminate distractions where you can.
Little interruptions can be incredibly time-consuming over the course of the day. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to cut down on distractions. Try setting your phone and internal messaging apps on "Do Not Disturb" when you need to focus on a particular task. Unless your work absolutely requires an immediate human response, train yourself to only check your email inbox at scheduled times during the day.
Know how to prioritize.
In most cases, all your tasks will fall into one of four categories:
- Important and urgent
- Important but not urgent
- Urgent but not important
- Not urgent and not important
Tasks in the first category should be done right away. Schedule those that fall in the second category when they make sense in your daily or weekly workflow. Try to fit in or delegate those in the third category where possible. The fourth? Decide if they really need to be done at all.
Schedule "down time" in your day.
You'll generally be more productive during your work time if you build some "down time" into your schedule. Don't skip lunch, and give yourself 10 or 15 minutes once or twice a day to take a walk or have a cup of tea. You'll lose your creative edge if you don't give your brain a break periodically, so put it in the schedule.
Time management skills are like any other skills we acquire – we need to practice them in order to become proficient. Start with these six tips to help with time management success, and you may find it easier to stay on task, get work done efficiently, and excel in any work environment.
This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors.