We know almost instinctively that meeting goals increases happiness. When people run a 5k for the first time or win the spelling bee or cross off the last item on the list, there’s a sense of accomplishment that comes along with the experience. We feel good about ourselves; we did the thing! But sometimes, this sense of accomplishment can suffer in the area of work. Projects and deadlines pile up, seemingly endless, and emails pour in faster than they can be answered. Without effective time management techniques to combat the tide, the average employee can wind up feeling more like he or she is drowning rather than surfing.
Positive Psychology: How Time Management Techniques Give our Brains a Boost
“What is good life?” This question the discipline positive psychology asks is explored from a perspective of time management techniques by Boniwell and Zimbardo in an article from January 2015. They point out the truth that, “Time not only underlies and regulates our social behavior but also penetrates the very fabric of our consciousness.” The idea here is that “good life” or “effective living” is achieved by balancing temporal perspective, i.e., by adjusting the way we think about our past, present, and future in order to become comfortable with the time we spend doing tasks we recognize as necessary but not enjoyable, such as work. By adjusting the way we think about the time that we have, we equip ourselves with a perception that allows us to see what time management techniques to apply that will be the most effective as we pursue “the good life.”
Take Your Pick: A Plethora of Time Management Techniques
There are sloughs of research on effective time management techniques. Research from Princeton University was compiled a series of principles that highlight the basics of effective time management techniques, including concepts like examining your commitments, pursuing fun time with gusto, and developing a routine. The problem is that there are so many time management techniques. No one can – or should – employ them all, or one will simply find oneself trading one type of overwhelming work experience for another. Instead, the employee should pick and choose a few to implement, and apply them one at a time. To select time management techniques effectively, however, the employee will want to choose ones that will have a maximum impact, that is, those that will likely show the biggest return. Once any one of these time management techniques have been implemented, the impact from the change should be such that it will encourage the employee to work even smarter, and apply other relevant time management techniques in a similar manner to improve workflow and job satisfaction.
Time Management Techniques to Choose From
Simply put, time management techniques fall into one of two camps. One set of time management techniques emphasizes how an employee manages time within the office and the other set emphasizes time management techniques outside of the office. How we act at work and outside of work both have an impact on at-work productivity. What the employee has to decide is where the greatest deficiency lies – which temporal perception needs to be adjusted – and choose time management techniques that fit the bill.
1. Ditch Multi-Tasking: Sanjay Gupta of CNN reports that our brains aren’t as good at multitasking as we originally thought, and our productivity experiences a sharp drop when we try it.
2. Chunk Your Time: Build out a schedule and stick to it. Defining start times and end times for tasks makes them seem more achievable, and when the job feels more like a chore, you at least know when it will end.
3. Make Time for Fun: When you’re not at work, don’t just sit around “relaxing” while you wait for the next time you need to be at work. Invest your free time and energy into activities that satisfy your interests and rejuvenate you. Hint: TV won’t do it! Schedule other obligations around this time.
4. Be Flexible: Remember that schedule? Make sure you leave a couple of empty windows in there for recharging, switching gears, and “make-up” time for tasks you weren’t able to complete. Variety is energizing, so build the potential for variety into your schedule.
5. Optimize Your Workspace: Streamline your physical work area to optimize your workflow in the space you have. Pay attention to how you feel as you go through the workday. Do you have a drawer that’s difficult or awkward to reach that you use all the time? Consider moving the contents to a different location to curb frustration.
6. Tough Tasks First: This is an example of one you may want to incorporate later in your time management techniques transition. When you schedule the least pleasant or most time-consuming tasks later in the day, the less of a chance they have of getting completed.
7. Runrun.it: A task management software that measures the time you spend working on your tasks – an lets you know which are companies’ priotity.
That’s it! Consider your temporal perception and choose time management techniques that will help you achieve the greatest advantage to your workflow, whether that’s inside the office or out, and you will be well on your way towards achieving “the good life.”
Effective management starts here, with tools from Runrun.it helping companies organize routines using management tools that focus priorities by scheduling tasks and meetings in a transparent, productivity-focused way. Companies who switch to Runrun.it see an average productivity increase of 25%, and you can try it for free at Runrun.it.