Every time a deadline approaches, you start to feel the stress mounting. A headache hits you, and you feel that you don’t have enough time to finish your task, again!
We all get 24 hours a day, but most people seem to have more hours. It’s not a gimmick. They understand time management concepts. They focus on being productive by applying time-saving tips.
With practical baby steps, you can be a master of your time and productivity.
This post will show you how to become a master time manager using our best time-saving tips and time management tools.
Let’s get started!
1. Track your time
Tracking your time helps you know how many hours you spend on specific tasks (high-priority, low-priority, or unproductive). Time tracking makes it easy to identify where you can save time by delegating or automating repetitive tasks.
You can track your hours manually or digitally. With manual time tracking, you need to watch the clock or wristwatch as you tackle each task. Then note down the start time and end time of that task in a journal.
You could also create a form to track your time online using an online form builder however this will still involve checking your wristwatch and having to remember what you were doing until it’s safely noted down.
Another way is to track time digitally using apps like TimeCamp. This cloud-based software monitors your work hours using manual timers or an online desktop application. It helps you track your billable hours and attach them to tasks using integrated project management tools like Asana.
With TimeCamp, you spend less time filling in timesheets because it tracks your website usage automatically. You can see where your time goes. It’s important to mention that this applies to both office and remote working. Indeed, while many praise the benefits of remote working, it comes with its benefits and challenges. In such a scenario, your capacity to track your time and follow along on how well you’re investing it is crucial.
Plus, you can assign time to different tasks and let the app monitor your progress.
2. Create a to-do list
One of the reasons you need a to-do list is to map out your work goals into time-bound tasks for each day. Writing a list of tasks means you can plan your workday. This productivity tool also helps your mind stay focused on the work at hand instead of engaging in distractions.
You can create a morning, weekly or bi-weekly list with our 5 hot tips for creating a perfect to-do list. The goal is to create the list beforehand to prepare for the day, week, or month mentally.
Common mistakes when writing a to-do list
If you find that a to-do list is not working for you, it could be because you’re making one of these common mistakes:
Writing down too many items on your list
Too many tasks can be overwhelming. Instead, group similar tasks together. A 15-point list is not working smarter.
It makes sense to have a five-point list. Then work on one task at a time.
You feel confident much quicker with a shorter list because you inch much closer to your goal with every complete task.
Starting with the simplest tasks first
If you begin your workday with the simple jobs first, you may never get around to doing the most difficult ones. Using the Premark Principle, tackling the difficult tasks first reinforces stronger reward behavior. You’re more likely to complete the difficult task if your reward is a simpler one or something unrelated, such as a smoothie during lunch break.
Including unnecessary tasks
This is a common micromanaging behavior. If your to-do list includes jobs such as sanitizing the office kitchen, then you’re probably micromanaging yourself.
You’re wasting time on work that can be easily automated or delegated to others. The trick is to focus on the forest instead of the trees. Keep your eyes on your core job description, outputs, and performance targets.
Working on multiple things at the same time will affect your concentration. It will take you longer to regain your focus when you divert attention between projects.
The big difference with working on one thing at a time is that you can put more energy into one task.
The best tools for creating to-do lists
Beyond the traditional pen and notepad, there are many digital applications that you can use as to-do lists. These include
- Remember the milk
These apps give you the freedom to manage your affairs from any desktop or mobile device. No need to fill your workstation with notepads and sticky notes.
3. Prioritize most important tasks first
Prioritizing tasks makes you more time-efficient. Begin with the most critical task, including meetings.
Time tracking apps like TimeCamp can help you determine how long these tasks will take. It’ll give you an idea of the time you need to complete all high-priority tasks for the day.
You can use this information to create a work schedule. The schedule would help you focus on the most critical parts of a project, so you save time at work. You’ll be less likely to engage in small talk with co-workers or browse social media if you have a timetable and stick to it.
Prioritizing with time-tracking software also helps you see how much time you have left for the low-priority jobs. You could then decide to push the low-priority jobs to the next day, delegate, or outsource to a virtual assistant.
Ways to save time with a timetable
Below are some practical tips to save time at work using a timetable.
Apply the timeboxing technique
Reclaim time with the timeboxing technique by limiting how much time you allocate each job. For example, if you allocate a 30-minute group meeting, you are bound to finish the meeting within that time (hard timeboxing).
Timeboxing is different from the time blocking technique. In time blocking, you can add more blocks of time to an unfinished task.
👉 Read also about Best Time Blocking Apps.
Timeboxing deals with procrastination and perfectionist tendencies. Timeboxing trains you to stop a task when it’s allocated time lapses instead of wasting valuable time trying to make something perfect. You become more motivated to complete your tasks quickly and achieve more goals.
Breaks boost your productivity. They give your body and mind time to rest and re-energize. You won’t need much to renew your energy other than some physical stretches, fresh air, a meal, or a quick walk around the office.
Plus, stepping out of your workstation and clearing your mind may help you come up with fresh ideas or better strategies for tackling a problem.
Be flexible to interruptions
Your timetable is incomplete without contingencies such as interruptions. Common examples that will affect your workflow are:
- Meetings (virtual and physical)
- Supervisors needing your attention
- Phone calls
- Cell phone
A time-saving tip is to give yourself the time and space to attend to unplanned interruptions. If your schedule is too restrictive, you may feel frustrated by the person or work that needs your immediate attention.
👉 Read also about flextime.
Every week, create a schedule of the projects, the allocated hour, and the time (morning or night). Focus on making yourself more productive. Fill in the important details and allocate enough hours. Find ways to save time on daily tasks and give yourself time to take care of other things like emergencies, daily commute, and grocery shopping.
4. Automate repetitive everyday tasks
Task automation saves you from spending time on repetitive tasks that do not add significant value to your workflow.
According to a 2017 McKinsey report, more than 30% of work activities can be automated in 60% of current occupations.
It is easy to identify repetitive tasks when you have a to-do list. These tasks often take up a lot of your time and distract you from focusing on higher-value duties.
Automating repetitive tasks means you spend less time on:
- Internal project analysis
- Making status requests
- Data collection
- Data syncing
- Confirmation or approval of requests
The best tools for automating workflow that allow you to move seamlessly between web applications are:
Zapier connects and moves information across its integrated platforms, including email, messaging, surveys, social media, cloud storage, and Google Workspace.
You can set TimeCamp to trigger a Zap workflow that moves a Gmail attachment into Dropbox and sends you an alert on Slack. Or you could set Todoist to trigger a Zap workflow that moves an unfinished task onto Google Calendar or into a new Trello card. These apps would then send you an email reminding you of the unfinished work.
With more than 3,000 integrated applications, you can set any platform on Zapier to trigger a workflow in one or more applications. This robust and versatile automation system is one of the best investments you could make to save your valuable time
Power Automate (formerly Microsoft Flow)
This Microsoft-owned application uses an artificial intelligence (AI) builder to automate repetitive tasks. It’s simple drag-and-drop user interface allows you to create flows and use pre-built models with ease. If your organization uses Microsoft Teams, then Power Automate will integrate very easily.
IFTTT Is a powerful automation tool for content creators. With the click of a button, you can add queries, actions, or filter code to trigger a workflow (applet) across multiple platforms.
Although this application is a less robust version of Zapier, it can work quite well in diverse industries, including energy and financial technology. The free standard plan gives you the freedom to create your Applet or use pre-built Applets to trigger an automation process.
You don’t have to know code or write it to use this software. Robotask uses simple macros to perform complex automation with advanced programming options.
You can perform more than 250 actions across email, storage, web, database, and network platforms. It works like an advanced Windows Scheduler and can run well on Windows operating systems.
Jotform automates workflow using custom forms and templates. It works well as a marketing automation tool for communication and payments.
You could send autoresponder emails, design dynamic forms, generate reports and receive online payments. With the free starter package, you can automate form workflows across platforms such as Trello and Zapier.
Check also best reporting tools!
5. Use time management software tools
Time management software is a productivity application that helps you track and streamline workflow processes across diverse platforms. The best time management software shows you ways to save time. It also needs to integrate seamlessly with other real-world apps for more value.
Some time management software apps allow free trials so you can test and discover how they work. Among the top 5 time management apps are Timecamp, MyHours, ClickUp, Clockify, and Bite15.
TimeCamp is an automated time management software with attendance and productivity tracking components. It is best suited for software houses, remote teams, freelance workers, and all types of organizations.
TimeCamp works by tracking your activity and assimilating that information into timesheets and attendance reports for clients and employers. This flexible app works smoothly across the organizational structure and can integrate across hundreds of popular platforms.
The time-saving app works well on all devices and operating systems. You can also install it as a Chrome extension to track your time inside many web apps.
MyHours gives hour-by-hour time tracking data for business managers. It works best in project teams where you need to track the attendance and billing hours of the team members.
MyHours comes with project management features that work well with Zapier and QuickBooks (for the Pro Plan). This project management feature allows you to create, delegate, label, and prioritize work among team members.
You can track attendance and workflow to produce real-time project reports. It also works well on any mobile device and as a web application.
ClickUp is a collaborative project management app for individuals and business managers. The best feature is its ability to integrate data from different platforms in one place.
In ClickUp, project teams can share information in different formats in the chat feature without lengthy email conversations. You can manage individual and team tasks, track your time and manage collaborative processes via Zapier.
Check more about ClickUp Time Tracking!
This app works well on any mobile device and across Linux, Mac, and Windows operating systems. You can also operate it through Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
Clockify is a free time tracking web application. It complements project management software by tracking hours in different projects and synchronizing the team’s billable hours.
This tracking data is analyzed and shared as easy-to-read timesheets and visual reports. From these reports, you can gain insight into the overall project budget, daily schedule, and work status.
Clockify is free of charge, so anybody can use it. There are no limits on the number of organizational users. The only challenge is that some modules are not quite robust for automating work processes.
Nevertheless, this app works efficiently across different apps like Zapier, web browsers, operating systems, and mobile devices.
Bite15 is a simple time tracking software for iOS. This app would work best for freelancers who need help in tracking their time and habits.
If you struggle with keeping up with tasks, this app lets you create tasks and allocate small chunks of time (say 20 minutes). You can configure it to send alerts and notify you when you need to focus on your work.
You can generate a report on the number of hours you worked on the task by the day’s end. The tracking report also shows how your productivity is distributed throughout the day. This can help you figure out what times you’re most productive so you can create better time-saving habits.
Bite15 has a free version called the Eternity Time Log for larger, organizational projects. Eternity Time Log creates hierarchical time logs and can run multiple timers that you can drag and drop. You can integrate it with Dropbox, email, Mac, PC, and mobile devices. Unfortunately, only the iOS version is available.
Planning, organizing, and automating your workflow are the best time-saving tips for a productive daily life. Following the points in the article, it is essential to track time and prioritize tasks for successful time management.
Remember to focus on the work that matters and harness time management tools to make your work easier.
Save your precious time on the things that matter.