1. Set goals correctly

Set goals that are achievable and measurable. Use the SMART method when setting goals. In essence, make sure the goals you set are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

2. Prioritise wisely

Prioritise tasks based on importance and urgency. For example, look at your daily tasks and determine which are:

  • Important and urgent: Do these tasks right away.
  • Important but not urgent: Decide when to do these tasks.
  • Urgent but not important: Delegate these tasks if possible.
  • Not urgent and not important: Set these aside to do later.

3. Set a time limit to complete a task

Setting time constraints for completing tasks helps you be more focused and efficient. Making the small extra effort to decide on how much time you need to allot for each task can also help you recognise potential problems before they arise. That way you can make plans for dealing with them.

For example, assume you need to write up five reviews in time for a meeting. However, you realise that you’ll only be able to get four of them done in the time remaining before the meeting. If you become aware of this fact well in advance, you may be able to easily delegate writing up one of the reviews to someone else. However, if you hadn’t bothered to do a time check on your tasks beforehand, you might have ended up not realising your time problem until just an hour before the meeting. At that point, it might be considerably more difficult to find someone to delegate one of the reviews to, and more difficult for them to fit the task into their day, too.

4. Take a break between tasks

When doing a lot of tasks without a break, it is harder to stay focused and motivated. Allow some downtime between tasks to clear your head and refresh yourself. Consider grabbing a brief nap, going for a short walk, or meditating/clearing your mind.

5. Organize yourself

Use your calendar for more long-term time management. Write down the deadlines for projects, or for tasks that are part of completing the overall project. Think about which days might be best to dedicate to specific tasks. For example, you might need to plan a meeting to discuss requests for capital on a day when you know the shareholders are available.

6. Remove non-essential tasks/activities

It is important to remove excess activities or tasks. Determine what is significant and what deserves your time. Removing non-essential tasks/activities frees up more of your time to be spent on genuinely important things.

7. Plan ahead

Make sure you start every day with a clear idea of what you need to do – what needs to get done THAT DAY. Consider making it a habit to, at the end of each workday, go ahead and write out your “to-do” list for the next workday. That way you can hit the ground running the next morning.

Implications of Poor Time Management

The consequences of poor time management include:

1. Poor workflow

The inability to plan ahead and stick to goals means poor efficiency. For example, if there are several important tasks to complete, an effective plan would be to complete related tasks together or sequentially. However, if you don’t plan ahead, you could end up having to jump back and forth, or backtrack, in doing your work. That translates to reduced efficiency and lower productivity.

2. Wasted time

Poor time management results in wasted time. For example, by talking to friends on social media while doing an assignment, you are distracting yourself and wasting time.

3. Loss of control

By not knowing what the next task is, you suffer from loss of control of your life. That can contribute to higher stress levels and anxiety.

4. Poor quality of work

Poor time management typically makes the quality of your work suffer. For example, having to rush to complete tasks at the last minute usually compromises quality.

5. Poor reputation

If clients or your employer cannot rely on you to complete tasks in a timely manner, their expectations and perceptions of you are adversely affected. If a client cannot rely on you to get something done on time, they will likely take their business elsewhere.