Do you love a good hack? You may already know that Ikea hacks can take budget furniture and make it look high-end. Kitchen hacks can help you cut onions without leaking from your eyes. And toy storage hacks can keep you from angrily throwing away all of your children’s toys.

But what about time management hacks to keep you and your team focused at work? Those could prove to be quite useful—especially if you and your team struggle to manage your time. 

The truth is that maintaining a good time management system at work can be very frustrating as life gets in the way. We all know how it feels to set out with high hopes and ambitions only to be met with obstacles like traffic delays, unplanned tasks, or even just being too tired to keep up. 

As you and your team’s daily lives become busier and busier, mastering the art of time management at work can make you more productive, organized, and ultimately successful — think less chaos, and more productivity. 

There is no reason for it to be such an overwhelming challenge. From setting deadlines on tasks to understanding when it’s time for a break, there are simple adjustments that can make a big difference in helping you achieve better time management at work. 

Take these tips into consideration next time you sit down to work and see just how far you can go from there.

 #1 Audit your time

Oh, time … Where art thou?! Figuring out how you currently spend your time is an unavoidable step in managing your time effectively. The first thing to do is to track your daily activities for a week as diligently as possible so that you can accurately gauge how much time you actually have available every day. 

This informal time audit will help you determine the number of realistic tasks that can be accomplished within your timeframe and give you an idea about the true use of resources, such as the number of hours wasted scrolling through social media or procrastinating.

By doing this evaluation, you can also identify what activities are stealing your time and cut back on those specific behaviors. Tracking time usage allows you to focus on activities that have high returns and invest more energy into them. 

It’s incredibly beneficial to figure out where each moment of your day goes so that your productivity doesn't suffer anymore and you’re able to accomplish far more than before. It's only by knowing exactly how you’re spending your days that will help you be more productive in order to achieve greater results.

#2 Prioritize your task list

Prioritizing your work tasks is essential for successful time management. For starters, you should prioritize based on importance rather than urgency. This way, you’re completing the most important tasks that support your goals and objectives before moving on to tasks with higher demand from outside sources. This can be tricky at first and will require you to practice feeling a little uncomfortable. 

To simplify your entire workflow, eliminate any tasks that don't actually need to be done in the first place. Then, narrow your remaining task list down to three or four of the most important ones and complete them first. This ensures they get done while also preventing distractions from other less relevant obligations. 

You can then run through the rest of your list accordingly without getting bogged down by the urgency of other people's demands at the expense of your business objectives. By identifying which tasks to prioritize, you’re better able to organize yourself for more efficient time management at work and increase your productivity in general.

#3 Develop a consistent routine

Developing a consistent routine is one of the most important steps when you hope to learn how to manage your time at work effectively. Even if it only consists of several bullet points, make sure you fill out a to-do list before you sign off each day. Not only will this help you hit the ground running in the morning, but it will also provide much-needed mental peace at night.

When you put down all your tasks on paper, there's no need to lie awake and roll around restlessly trying to remember if you forgot something. Getting it all out onto paper allows your subconscious to process those assignments while you sleep, leaving you with additional ideas and inspirations in the morning. 

Having a comprehensive plan directed towards accomplishing your objectives can be extremely helpful when trying to navigate a fast-paced work environment without losing track of important details.

#4 Don’t let tasks immobilize you

Becoming immobilized by tasks is when you have a long list of past-due tasks and you just don't know where to start. You don’t want task paralysis — it can be incredibly overwhelming and discouraging, leading to further procrastination and unproductivity. 

To avoid this paralysis, it's important to start your day by focusing on the most important task first. Block off a few hours in your schedule to give yourself enough time to complete the project. Even if you spend a little more time than expected, that's okay —what matters is that you learned from it and allocated appropriate time for similar tasks in the future. 

#5 Put time limits on tasks

Setting a reasonable timeframe for tasks should be an integral part of any schedule. This will help you focus and complete projects in an efficient manner, as well as reduce feelings of being overwhelmed. 

The Pomodoro Technique is one way to structure your workflow, breaking it up into twenty-five-minute chunks with short breaks in between each one and then a longer break once you’ve completed four cycles. This method helps keep productivity high while avoiding burnout from staring at a task for too long. 

For those who want more freedom over the length of time allotted to certain tasks, timeboxing is another option. It involves setting a predetermined amount of time that you plan to spend on a task.

Having an understanding of how long certain tasks will take allows you to plan effectively so you won't get paralyzed again by an ambiguous set of obligations. Plus, checking a task off your list can motivate you to keep going and give you just enough of a boost to focus on your next task.

#6 Combine similar tasks

Organizing tasks into groups by similar activities not only helps you to save time and energy but also allows you to be more efficient and get more done. Our brains are wired to focus on one task at a time. Doing too many things concurrently can overwork the brain and have the opposite effect and result in being overwhelmed and less productive.

By grouping similar tasks together, you can focus on completing one group of tasks before moving on to another. This will help maximize your efficiency, reduce wasted time due to distraction, and make sure that no important work gets neglected or forgotten. 

An example would be creating chunks of time for answering emails, making phone calls, filing paperwork, or running any other errands. If we stick to this routine every day and turn off our phone or email notifications in order to eliminate any urge to break away from it, we’ll be able to finish what needs to be done in a much simpler fashion.

#7 Manage your client’s expectations

It can be challenging to work with clients who have unrealistic expectations. Expectations such as often asking for pricing structures and details that may not have been previously discussed, timelines that you don’t have the resources to support, etc. In addition, they may change their mind several times over the course of even a small project, making it difficult for the business to finish on time.

When it comes to dealing with client expectations, the best thing is simply to be as transparent as possible upfront. It’s better in the long run if businesses recognize these signs early on, and refuse to work with a needy client before they begin any kind of relationship. Needy clients suck your time, resources, physical energy, and emotional energy.

#8 Just say no

Learning to say no takes practice, but it’s an important skill to develop in order to effectively manage time at work. Saying "no" requires a certain amount of self-confidence and assurance, which can be difficult for some people. However, if saying "no" means that you are able to focus on more important tasks that will produce better value results, then it’s worth the effort.

It's important to keep the 80/20 rule in mind when considering how you’re going to allocate your time. If most of the results come from only a few tasks or skills, then instead of doing multiple tasks that yield little or no value, you should concentrate on the 20% of activities that offer the most output. 

Taking shortcuts by neglecting tasks may sound enticing at first, but working smarter rather than harder will give you much better overall results in the long run. Learning how to prioritize and differentiate between essential and non-essential activities is key when working under tight deadlines or otherwise limited resources.

#9 Organize your workspace

Organizing your workspace can be one of the most effective time management strategies you can adopt. It’s often the first step towards getting organized and can help to create more productive days. 

A cluttered desk full of unwieldy piles of documents, books, and other miscellaneous items can sap valuable time away from your day by making it nearly impossible to find an item without hours of hunting and sorting. This robs you of productivity when all you need is a simple piece of paper or a document that should otherwise be easily accessible.

Creating a filing system for your documents isn’t as difficult as it may seem, and it makes a tremendous difference in terms of organization and efficiency. Once everything is filed properly, retrieving specific items becomes much easier because they’re located in designated places where they can be quickly accessed when you need them. 

Having a functional filing system also eliminates wasteful searching time spent trying to locate misplaced items and helps keep important documents well organized so that they are at hand when needed. You must file consistently for this to be helpful!

#10 Allow for intentional breaks

Taking regular breaks is an important part of developing a good time management practice, as it can help you stay focused and productive for longer periods of time. Research has shown that regular breaks not only improve mental well-being, decision-making abilities, and memory but also lead to increased productivity. 

Intentional breaks help your body to replenish its energy levels, allowing you to continue working without feeling as though you're hitting a wall. You get to determine what you do on these breaks. You need to do something that actually makes you feel like you’re taking a mental siesta.

Furthermore, taking regular breaks gives your body the opportunity to rest and recover from stress. Working long hours without pauses can lead to burnout, fatigue, decreased engagement in activities, and slower cognition. 

It’s important to build “buffers” into your day, ensuring that there are regular times when you step away from work tasks and allow yourself some time out. Making this a habit will ultimately lead to more efficient task completion over time. Taking short moments throughout the day allows the mind and body to re-energize and make more mindful decisions going forward.

#11 Eliminate time management distractions

Having an effective system of personal time management is a key skill to increase productivity at work. The amount and range of distractions that can occur while on the job can be limitless, from text messages and instant messaging to social media browsing, web surfing, or even coworkers trying to chat when you should be focused on work.

To get started eliminating distractions, begin with the basics. 

  • Shut your office door if you have one, and set boundaries for those around you about when it’s ok to come in and out of your workspace. 
  • Close all tabs except for the ones you are currently working on and turn off messaging notifications unless absolutely necessary. 
  • Keep your phone calls personal until lunchtime or other designated breaks from work. 
  • Take small steps whenever trying something new so as to not overwhelm yourself—taking these small steps can help effectively eliminate distracting behaviors over time and build strong concentration skills for more productive work sessions.

It’s all about skills

At this point, you already know that time management is essential to maintaining any sort of productivity. Yet, many people struggle to maintain a successful system of time management. Setting up an effective and reliable system doesn't begin and end with tips or tricks. It begins with understanding how to effectively use the limited resources you have in order to reach maximum efficiency.

It’s just plain smart for people who struggle with managing their time well to be encouraged to focus on strengthening their awareness, arrangement, and adaptation skills in order to create meaningful habits that stick. Making sure you have good time management skills will set you and your team up for success in the long run and ultimately bring greater productivity to whatever you do.

To sum it up

We’ve just laid out some great hacks to keep you on the right track to manage your time. When time management doesn’t come naturally to you, you need all the help you can get to stay on track. 

The good news is that you don’t have to figure out time management on your own. Harvest can help you. It works alongside what you’re already doing and coordinates with your existing apps.

Contact us today and we can get you set up with a free trial to see if Harvest is a good fit for you.