Systematic planning and prioritisation help to prevent stressful circumstances and also save valuable time. However, time management only provides the desired benefits if you stick to it. That's not always easy. But a good first step is to focus on the truly important tasks, leaving superficially urgent activities for later.
If you make plans systematically and are as disciplined as possible about keeping to those plans, you can avoid unnecessary stress and gain valuable time. Good time management also helps you focus on the really essential tasks and complete them more quickly and efficiently. And that applies not just to your working life, but to your free time as well.
Planning saves time
- Start by taking a look at how you use your time. The best way to do that is to keep a written record of how much time you spend on which activities for a week or so.
- Take about 15 minutes every day to plan what you are going to do that day. This is not wasted time. On the contrary, good planning saves time.
- Put your plan for the day in writing. In the evening you can look over your plan and assess how effective it was.
- Set priorities: Think about which tasks are most important and urgent, and do these first.
- Plan according to an exact schedule: Estimate how long you will need to complete a specific task. Allow a little bit more time for it; if the time you allow is too tight, the result will only be time pressure and stress.
- Buffer times: Plan a little time between tasks to give yourself some leeway. This means you will be prepared if there are any unexpected delays.
- Keep to your schedule as much as possible, but retain an element of flexibility. Unforeseen events can mess up even the best scheduling.
Tips for your everyday working life
- Take advantage of the times when you're at your peak. Do your most difficult tasks at times of the day when you generally perform at your best.
- Don't allow yourself to be interrupted by colleagues or the phone if you are in the middle of something important. Arrange a time to see your colleagues later, switch the answering machine on, or go somewhere you can't be disturbed.
- Switch off audible and visual notifications you are given when you receive emails. Process your emails at particular times of the day, for example at 9.30 am, 1.30 pm and 4 pm.
- Don't put off doing particular tasks for an unnecessarily long time. It pays to take small steps in such cases: Think about what would be the smallest step on the way to completing this task. If you’re writing a report, for example, the first step might be to sort the relevant documents.