Time is finite.
We all have the same amount of hours each day. You can’t store time, borrow it, or save for later use. You can only decide how to allocate it, spending it on activities of higher rather than low value. Time management is a game of choices: projects to pursue, tasks to complete, routines to follow.
As an office manager, adopting good time management techniques is a major part of your role! And it isn’t just about squeezing as many tasks as you can into your day. It’s about simplifying how you and your employees work, running a more efficient workplace, and reducing time wasters.
By doing so, you’ll have more time to rest, relax, and accomplish the things you love. Don’t try to work harder, invest in working smarter…
Working Smarter, Not Harder
The last decade has brought in many major changes to how we view work, efficiency, and success. Recent scientific discoveries, new technologies, and a change of priorities have us looking at our daily work routines and interactions in different ways.
We tend to think of time management, productivity, and “being busy” as synonymous concepts. We believe that to excel in our business and personal lives, we must constantly be on the go, maybe even sleep-deprived, as we cram in working, studying, solving issues, or managing our team.
While time management can help you increase productivity in all areas of your life, it isn’t just about cramming more in. Rather, it’s about understanding what you need to do, what you want to do, and how long each thing takes.
If you have run your business or managing your office in the same way for a long time, it’s time to learn about the latest practices and turning your already efficient office into a powerhouse of employee happiness and work efficiency.
1. Make Weekly And Daily Schedules In Advance
If you don’t know what you’re going to do today, then how can you get upset at yourself when you don’t manage your time well? Part of the issue is false expectations. If you don’t set any goals for yourself or even a to-do list, then don’t get frustrated when you accomplished nothing.
With your team’s work scattered among multiple different projects, plans, and tools, it’s hard to understand just how much total work you all need to manage. Having that knowledge is key to figuring out how much each team member is doing or what they can take on. You can get past that and figure out what your team’s workload is by getting your schedules in order.
So before going to bed, spend 5 minutes writing your to-do list for the next day or even for the next week. These tasks should help you move towards your professional and personal goals.
By planning in advance, you’ll be better prepared mentally for the challenges ahead and there won’t be any room for procrastination in your workweek. As a result, you’ll work faster and smoother than ever before.
Make planning a part of your home routine and save yourself time and worries in the office.
2. Start The Day With Critical Work
This is the golden rule of time management. Each day, identify the two or three tasks that are the most crucial to complete or most important task (MIT), and do those first. Your MIT should be the one thing that creates the most impact on your work. Getting it done will give you the momentum and sense of accomplishment early in the day. That’s how big life goals are achieved– small continuous efforts, day after day.
Others suggest “eating the frog” which is doing the thing you don’t want to do first. Working on the most important thing first frees you up from that point forward. Once you’re done, the day has already been a success. You can move on to other things, or you can let them wait until tomorrow. You’ve finished the essentials.
3. Onboard A Task Management Software
Being organized saves tons of time, and as an office manager, it’s incredibly important that you’re able to lead your team efficiently. Without the right tools, however, things can quickly go from order to chaos as everyone struggles to keep track of everything needed to finish a project.
Thankfully, there are tools out there that can help you keep track of everything in a nice, clean way that won’t spell disaster for you or your company. Task management software can be a lifesaver for office managers who aim for productivity and efficiency.
Imagine being able to see everything that’s going on with every project and every team member in one single location. Talk about saving time– using a work or project management tool does just that.
When you adopt a work management tool, every team member is able to see how their work feeds into larger teams and company initiatives. Communication happens within tasks, so finding the information you need takes five seconds instead of five minutes. Timelines keep everyone on track because projects can be viewed individually or together.
4. Prioritize Your Work & To-Do-List
Commit and don’t flake on your own plan to do something! Be resolute and professional about your work. A firm dedication to doing what you decide to do will take you anywhere. So close out all other browser windows, put your phone away, and lock yourself into your tasks at hand. This means that nothing else should exist at a particular time. Immerse yourself in it.
Knowing how to prioritize your work is an essential time management technique. Your tasks, however small or large, need clear priorities because one of the fastest ways to overwhelm yourself is to think about your overall to-do list. Realize that no amount of thought will make it any shorter.
All you can do is focus on one important task before you. To help you find them, use a productivity hack below called the Eisenhower Matrix.
5. Delegate or Outsource Tasks
We often allow projects to take much, much longer than they could by getting too hung up on small details. Most of us are guilty of this. But as an office manager, you don’t have to do everything yourself.
You can find a virtual assistant or hire freelancers. In a team, re-assign specific tasks to colleagues who are better suited to complete specific tasks. While it may seem easier to do everything yourself than to explain the details of a project to someone else, there are two key reasons why delegating tasks is usually a better strategy.
First, delegating or outsourcing some tasks is a great way to multiply your efforts and allows you to make the best use of your time and skills to focus on the future of company growth. Second, it helps other people on the team grow and develop to reach their full potential in the organization.
When delegating work, you want to choose employees that have the best skills and traits for the job that is being assigned. It is essential to learn employees’ strengths and weaknesses so that tasks can be delegated to the best employees. When an employee is struggling, do not let them hand the work back over, instead, instruct them on how they can achieve the end result!
6. Automate Repetitive Tasks
Technology has finally reached a point where we can automate a lot of our daily operations. By automating a few of your tasks as a manager, you save hours per week. Automation can free up your time and mental energy to focus on things that matter and you can then use that time for other work or taking breaks.
Putting some of your daily tasks on autopilot is key to working smarter. Instead of thinking about how to respond to an email, you can brainstorm impactful ways you can improve your product, service, or customer experience.
Here are a couple of tasks you can automate to save your precious time:
- Sort and respond to emails
- Proofread your work in real-time
- Save time scouring the news
- Leverage AI to schedule meetings for you
- Create custom automation rules
- Build custom workflows for repetitive computer tasks
There’s no question that automation will continue to change how you work and it will likely redefine your job. If you do get to the point where you never have to schedule a meeting or respond to an email again, well, so much of your time will be saved.
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7. Plan To Do Your Best Work At The Best Time
As mentioned above, scheduling is important because some tasks have to be done at specific times. Scheduling affects your day, your week, your month, as well as other people’s workflow. Schedules can also be a good way to avoid procrastination because productivity is directly related to your energy level.
Most have specific times of the day when they are more or less productive as a result of energy levels and demands of the day.
So find your most productive hours — the time of your peak energy — and schedule your deep work for those periods. Do low-value and low-energy tasks, such as responding to emails or unimportant meetings, in between those hours.
For example, if you are a morning person, do your most critical work when you get into the office. After lunch, your energy might crash a bit so it’s a great time to clean your desk, clean emails or update spreadsheets.
8. Track Your Time
Delineate a time limit in which to complete a task. Instead of just sitting down to work on a project and thinking, “I’m going to be here until this is done,” try thinking, “I’m going to work on this for three hours”.
The time constraint will push you to focus and be more efficient, even if you end up having to go back and add a bit later. You become more productive when you allocate a specific amount of time to complete a specific task. That’s why we create deadlines.
Good time management is knowing how long a particular task will take. To maximize your time, you have to limit distractions while also monitoring how long it’s taking you to do something. Here are two well-known time management strategies to balance and accomplish this:
- Pomodoro: Named after a tomato timer, you work in smaller 25-minute chunks, take a short break, and then do another 25-minute chunk. After a few of those, you take a longer break. Using the Pomodoro technique is a great way to stay focused.
- Time Tracking: If you’re using the Pomodoro technique, you can also log time to note how long a particular task is taking. Then, the next time you need to do a similar task, you’ll have a better idea of how long it’s going to take.
9. Limit Distractions
This has already been mentioned but it’s one of the most useful tips you can take away from this post.
It is common knowledge that time wasters or distractions during work may interrupt a smooth workflow. Time spent browsing social media or gaming or watching TV can be one of the biggest drains on productivity. We suggest becoming more aware of how much time you spend on these activities. Simply by noticing how they’re sucking up your time you’ll begin to do them less.
It’s easy to say: no distractions, no excuses! However, don’t set yourself up to fail by setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. It’s unrealistic to think that you’ll never pick up your phone to check social media, or your favorite news site, or that incoming text from your special someone.
So instead of totally eliminating these distractions, try to schedule time to indulge in less than productive activities once or twice throughout the day, for ten or fifteen minutes at a time. If it helps you, you can actually put “play games” on your calendar. Allowing yourself your favorite distraction now and again will make it less tempting and help keep you on task for the majority of your day.
10. Learn To Say No More Often
Making a lot of time commitments can teach us how to juggle various engagements and manage our time. This can be a great thing!
However, you can easily take it too far. At some point, you need to learn to decline opportunities. You should only take on commitments that you know you have time for and that you truly care about.
Our lives are full of excess. When we can identify that excess and remove it, we become more and more in touch with what is significant and what deserves our time. Basically, do less is another way of saying do the things that really matter.
Slow down, notice what needs to be done, and concentrate on those things. Do fewer things that create more value, rather than the more things that are mostly empty.
Are you feeling empowered to improve your time management skills? Remember, saving time is all about planning, managing, and working smarter!
Regardless of your intentions and wishes, however, there will be days when the external world won’t let you develop your time management skills. That’s why you need to be flexible to get everything done. You shouldn’t be frustrated and stressed out when you can’t do a task on time according to your plan because of some external factor. Just put everything on hold and get back to your tasks as soon as you get the right moment.
Lastly, never forget to enjoy your work. Always ask yourself: What can I do to spend more time enjoying what I’m doing? The goal should be to arrange your commitments in a way that you’re happy living out the details of your daily life as an office manager, even while you’re working.
This may sound like a dream, but when you have that attitude in mind, you can improve your productivity and do more with your time than you have in the past. You’ll know more about what you can accomplish and will not be frustrated by unrealistic goals.
Time management strategies optimize not only your time for today but your time going forward, too…
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