From Chaos To Control: Mastering Your Work Schedule

Hourglass on a laptop

A modern rhythm of life makes everyone regret a day that has only 24 hours. Trying to sort out a busy workload reminds a constant battle. Unrealistic expectations, burning deadlines and a lack of a clear plan can end up in a total mess. Distractions like social media and unnecessary meetings only contribute to this chaos. In addition, even the best efforts can be further sabotaged by procrastination and frustration. No wonder you may sometimes feel like your work schedule controls you, and not the other way around. If that’s your current state, it is time to change things! Read on to learn how to tame these challenges and take back control over your time.

Is planning a real game-changer?

It is a common misconception that multitasking increases productivity. However, in reality, it is exactly the opposite – multitasking can actually decrease efficiency and hinder performance. Switching between tasks can lead to a loss of focus, mental overload, and increased errors. Feelings of stress, anxiety, and overwhelm. Instead of trying to solve multiple tasks simultaneously, experts advise to focus on planning. Can you imagine a builder starting a construction project without a blueprint? The same is true for a working day – you must approach your day strategically, set realistic goals, and schedule meetings and task. Brian Tracy in his book “Eat That Frog” claims: “Every minute you spend in planning saves ten minutes in execution.” So, if you devote 10-12 minutes to set your daily priorities, you will easily win two hours that you usually waste! However, even your planning needs to be smart.  

Practical tips on time management

Not everyone is born with time management skills, but you can master these. Here are some habits you can incorporate into your routine and reclaim control of your day, boost your productivity, and achieve more with less stress.

Master the art of planning.

Effective time management starts with planning. Your plan is like a map that will help you reach your destination faster.

Get rid of time wasters.

Many activities act like productivity killers and steal your precious time without you actually noticing it. These could be social media, excessive meetings, multitasking, or a disorganized workspace. Make sure to identify and eliminate these.

  • Minimize distractions. Silence notifications on your phone and computer. Turn off social media while working and do not chat with colleagues. You can even use blocking apps to use your time more efficiently.
  • Batch similar tasks. Multitasking is a myth and can ruin your schedule. Group similar tasks together (e.g., emails, phone calls, reports) and deal with these blocks in one go. The less you switch between tasks,  the more you will complete.

Use technology for efficiency.

In the era of digital advancements, it is impossible to succeed without technology.

  • Time management apps. Applications like RescueTime or Focus Keeper can help you understand whether you use your time effectively. Knowing your work patterns will help you stay organized.
  • Project management apps. Project management apps like Asana or Trello allow you to collaborate with teams, assign tasks, and track project progress.
  • Productivity tools. Evernote or OneNote are digital notebooks that help you follow your daily routine organized and have all the information at hand.

Cultivate positive habits.

Effective time management is not only strategies and tactics – it is also positive habits.

  • Have enough sleep. Try to have 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. It is crucial for focus, concentration, and overall well-being. 
  • Learn to say No. Do not overload your schedule by taking on too much. Politely decline requests that do not fit your workload capacity.
  • Delegate tasks. Delegate tasks whenever you can. This frees up your time to focus on your core responsibilities and use the expertise of others.
  • Reward yourself. Celebrate your accomplishments, even the smallest ones. Rewards keep you motivated and reinforce a positive work attitude. Even a coffee break, a walk in the park, or a fun activity can encourage you to achieve more.

Time management tips from the most famous CEO’s

How do the world’s most successful CEOs cope with their work? Their daily routines and work philosophies can be really inspiring for everyone.

Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors, supports a flexible work culture and a healthy work-life balance. She encourages everyone to treat personal appointments with the same urgency as work meetings. Barra also practices what she preaches. She schedules dedicated time for family and hobbies to maintain her well-being and brings a fresh perspective to her leadership role. She believes this is a way to form a happier and more productive workforce

Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, is known for his unique time management approach. He created a so-called “time budget.” This algorithm works as follows: Ballmer keeps a spreadsheet that functions like a budget, but instead of money, it tracks his time. He likely allocated specific amounts of time for different categories like meetings and calls, employee interaction, and personal time. This method helps him identify areas where he might be overspending time and adjust his schedule accordingly.

Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix is known for his unique time management trick: he practices “context switching.” Instead of crowding everyone’s schedule with meetings, he encourages asynchronous communication like emails or shared documents. This way, employees can respond when it suits them best, cutting down on interruptions and letting everyone focus on their tasks without constant disruptions. It’s a completely new approach to productivity, however, Netflix’s success proves it works well.

Summing up

Time management techniques are crucial for boosting productivity, lowering stress, and finding balance. Learn the basics and try different methods, tools, and tricks to make the most of your time. Remember, every person may benefit from different time management tactics, so customize these to fit your life. Keep tuning your strategies as you grow to become a true time management pro.

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