Why use time management techniques? Effectively managing your time has been linked with greater performance and lower levels of stress and anxiety. In a busy working environment, who doesn’t need that?
But if you don’t know where to start, you’ll need to consult a list of the best time management techniques. Relying on tried-and-tested methods for managing your time means that you’ll start seeing benefits in no time.
If you’re looking for a quick list of some top time management techniques for 2023 rather than a full guide to time management, then you’ve come to the right place. Below, you’ll find 9 of the best time management techniques for managing your working time better in the year ahead.
The 9 Best Time Management Techniques for 2023
To prepare you for the year ahead, we’ve collected nine of the best time management techniques that we’ve tried and tested ourselves. With these new habits, we’re sure you’ll see a boost in your productivity and output as the year rolls ahead.
1. Set yourself realistic and achievable goals
There are many frameworks out there for setting achievable goals. We’re not talking about goals in general but those that are specific and measurable. In most cases, using SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound – is the best way to go about this.
Non-specific goals just won’t do. For example, “Be more productive.” In this case, you haven’t defined the success criteria for that goal, not what is considered a measure of productivity. A better example would be, “Improve turnaround time on projects by one week” or “Close ten more cases per month.”
When you follow the SMART goal planning system, you’ll be more likely to believe in, follow, and achieve the goals that you set out, which will improve your overall work ethos.
2. Set realistic deadlines for yourself
In addition to setting goals, setting yourself deadlines is one of the best ways to hold yourself accountable. Even better if you’ve shared those deadlines with your line manager or other senior stakeholders. If you’re working on a task that has no specific end date, you’ll be more likely to take your time with it or spend your time doing something else.
Just be careful not to be too strict with yourself in the beginning. If you overload yourself with deadlines, you could quickly achieve the opposite. Missing deadlines could hurt your productivity and morale. So, make sure your personal goals are always realistic and start small.
3. Break large and intimidating tasks into smaller goals
Large projects or long-term goals can be intimidating. Often, it’s hard to know where to begin, particularly if you’re looking at the project or goal as a whole. This can lead to inaction as you sit daunted by the size of the task.
That’s why your first step in any new project or long-term goal should be to break it down into digestible, achievable tasks, along with their own milestones.
If you’re working on the delivery of a new sales and marketing report, focus on each area individually. The report might be broken down into key metrics, such as the number of website visitors, conversion, sales performance, products sold, and so on. Focus on each area individually, and complete a task before moving on to the next.
4. Allow yourself time to disconnect from work
Let’s face it: there are some roles where the expectation is to be available 24 hours a day or at least always available to check and respond to a message. But that doesn’t apply to the vast majority of us. Remote working has brought about some incredible benefits, but it’s causing the lines between “work” and “home” to blur.
Whatever your working hours are, ensure that there is a clear line in the sand where you step away from your desk and disconnect. You need this time to decompress, spend time with your family, gather your mental energy, and be refreshed for the following day. Not allowing yourself this essential personal time can quickly lead to burnout.
5. Carve out a separate space for remote work
In the same vein as the above, be sure that you’re clearly separating your workspace if you’re in the habit of working from home. That is, try to make sure that you aren’t working from areas of the home that are designed for relaxing after work.
Many of us have shifted to remote work since the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of us have likely spent an afternoon on the couch with our laptop or even taken a meeting in bed. The problem is this allows work to bleed over into your day-to-day life, and it can make it harder to achieve that disconnect at the end of the day. Your relaxing spaces can suddenly start to feel like the office.
Remember, the bed is for sleeping, and your couch is for unwinding and relaxing. If you have the space available, set up a workstation away from these areas. Consider using a separate mobile phone for work communications too, and leave this phone on your desk when you leave the area at the end of the day.
6. Say “No” if your schedule is already full
Regardless of your profession, you need to know your limitations when it comes to the amount of work you can manage within your allotted time. We all have quieter and busier days, but they tend to average out to a workload that you know you can tackle.
If you’re asked to pick up more work, the temptation can often be to accept it immediately without question. After all, we all want to be perceived as doing a good job and helping out our team. But if you take on too much work, you’ll quickly fall behind; missing deadlines consistently is a good way to increase stress, which can impact our overall work quality and output.
7. Understand when you’re most productive
We all work best at different times of the day. Some people are full of energy in the morning, while others are night owls who can do their best work past sundown. While bearing in mind your working hours, you should figure out the times at which you’re most productive.
Don’t force yourself to tackle large, intensive tasks at a time when you’re not functioning at your best. It’ll leave you feeling demotivated, and you could well waste your time without achieving very much. Instead, save those tasks for your most productive time windows and pick up smaller, quick wins instead. That’ll help boost your motivation and leave you feeling accomplished, which can, in turn, improve productivity and confidence.
8. Visualise your tasks around your workspace
Whether you’re working from home or the office, creating a visual list of your tasks can help you to remain productive. According to psychologist Dr. David Cohen, having a physical to-do list can help you to work more effectively and get things done.
Of course, if you do still work from an office, smattering a wall with Post-it notes could cause some annoyance with management. While the research above suggests that physical to-do lists work well, you can still achieve the same idea by using one of the best time blocking apps to create your to-do list, which brings us to our final piece of advice.
9. Use time blocking software to effectively plan your day
We’ve saved our best time management technique for last, as our own research and testing have shown that it can save you the most time during your working day. We’re talking specifically about time blocking.
Time blocking involves sectioning out portions of your workday and assigning specific tasks to them. So, you might block out the first hour of the day to review your schedule and email inbox, for example. You could then repeat this task on a daily or weekly basis.
Once you start grouping similar tasks, considering your most productive times of day, and blocking out time for everything important, you’ll soon see a difference in your time management.
There are plenty of time management apps out there that can do time blocking for you too. With tools like Akiflow, you can block out your time while benefiting from integration with 2,000+ business and productivity apps, including Teams, Google Mail, Slack, and many more.
Try Akiflow for free to see how our users are saving as much as 2 hours each day by using the platform to schedule and manage their workdays.
We hope that these time management techniques will help you to have a productive and motivated 2023. You’ll find more tips on blocking out time in our full guide to time blocking.