20 Workplace Time Management Tips & Tricks for Employees

1. The Most Important Task Should Always Come First

The most basic, yet supreme rule in time management is simply to complete the most important task first. This rule applies to every individual at every level. At the beginning of the day, select the tasks that are most important, especially the ones with deadlines and finish them without errors.

Once you have sought out the most important task(s) of the day, you have already effectively managed your day, and of course you can move on to the remaining activities of the day

2. Get Enough Sleep

Cutting your sleep time really low to work is not a way to show hard work or productivity. It is clear that there are times you may need to stay up a while or stay up all night to get things done, this isn’t harmful however not getting enough sleep consistently can affect your productivity.

Almost everyone needs between 7-8 hours of sleep every day to get our minds and bodies to function optimally, you may not get up to 8 hours of sleep every day, but always ensure you get enough rest, it re-energizes your body.

3. Exercise and Eat Healthy

Many researchers have linked healthy lifestyle with productivity. Just like getting enough sleep, healthy eating and exercise have been proven to help increase energy level, improve ability to focus and clear one’s mind.

4. Stay Focused on the Task

Routing your focus actually begins from the moment your day begins. You should practice how to be focused by drawing up either a daily or weekly or monthly calendar. Begin your day by checking your calendar, checking your email is important but try not to make it the first thing you check.

Also, along with the daily calendar, create a priority list. This is a form of to-do list where you list tasks or events for the day from your top priories to the least. By determining up front what meetings you have, and what tasks need to be completed today, you will make better decisions when you finally read your emails.

Once you begin you tasks for the day, it is time to get focused. Do not start a task without putting distractions away, especially if you are someone who doesn’t know how to work effectively amidst distractions. So, if you don’t need your phone for this task, put it aside or on silent, you can read your voicemails later; if you are working on the internet, try and close those tabs that can distract you like the funny video sites, game sites, etc.

Next step is concentration. After putting distractions away, you will need to concentrate on the task at hand. Focus completely on the task. Depending on what works for you, you can go to a quiet place, listen to some music while working, anything that helps to keep you focused on the task.

5. Turn Off all Distractions

It is very easy to lose focus when constantly interrupted. Continuous interference can ruin concentration which has been proven to lower one’s IQ. When you are on the clock to deliver high-quality tasks, you need to shut down all distractions, even if they are work-related.

Except you are expecting a very important mail, you should turn off your email alerts too. Also, avoid taking time off to do the tasks that are less important and less timely because you like to multi-task. The time you have to deliver a very important task under strict time restrictions is perhaps not the best time for multitasking, you need to focus.

6. Plan for Interruptions

Have you ever been in a position where at the end of the day you realize that you did not achieve everything you planned to achieve? You need to expect interruptions and plan towards them.

If you have 8 hours to work, plan to achieve your goals for the day in 6 hours. Always make plans to be done at least 2 hours earlier than you actually need to be. Set 2 hours aside to cover those seemingly distraction times in order to ensure that they do not affect your schedule. Do not forget that distractions will always come, you have to be proactive.

7. Learn to Say NO

One of the ways to improve time management skills and learn to multitask efficiently is to accept multiple tasks or opportunities with same or very close deadlines. But you have to know when it is not OK to take more responsibilities, even if they are opportunities. You should aim to accept only the task that you are certain you will have enough time to complete.

8. Only Check your Email a Few Times Per Day

This is perhaps one of the work time habits employees find most difficult to break. However, breaking this habit is one of the best productivity booster employees can give themselves. You will be surprised at how much time you save when you are not checking and responding to every email you receive all day. Of course you need to respond to important emails, but significantly reduce the number of times you spend checking your emails.

9. Don’t Use your Inbox as your To-do lList

Do not create your to-do list in your mailbox, as you would most likely spend much more time checking the list in your mail, than you would check a to-do list written on simple sticky notes or any other piece of paper. Most employees with a to-do list in their email end up checking their inbox, respond to emails, outbox, delete etc. Each time they simply want to check their to-do list. By the time they are eventually done checking their list of priorities, they would have spent 4 times the amount of time they had intended to spend.

10. Prioritize Based on Value

Another way to get the most out of your day and make it perfectly productive is by prioritizing your work based on the value they add. Using the 80/20% rule, focus more on the 20% tasks or methods that give 80% results. This will help ensure that you do not spend too much time on activities that add little or no value at all.

11. Don’t Think of the Totality of your To-do List

Stop thinking about your to-do list every second of the day, it is not going to get the job done. Yes, those days with a seemingly overwhelming number of tasks will come; thinking about that long list of tasks and worring about how to get them all done in time would only fill you with fear, tiredness, sometimes complaints and eventually it will take productive time away from you rather than help you maximize it.

Whenever your to-do list is really long, prioritize your tasks, delegate the ones that can be, mark out the ones you can complete at home, then focus on the most important ones and give yourself a time frame for completion. Know when it is best to focus on one single task at a time and when it is best to multitask.

12. Insist on Agenda and Schedule

There are very little things that waste employees’ time in the workplace and one of them are unplanned meetings. Do not attend any meeting without an agenda. Request for the meeting agenda and schedule ahead so you can prepare for the meeting ahead in terms of how long you would need to spend in the meeting. Perhaps you are only needed for a few minutes or your attendance at the meeting is not even necessary.

13. Apply the One-touch Principle to Email and Paper :

When you receive a piece of paper or an email, decide to attend to it immediately and completely. Look out for assignments that can be delegated and delegate them accordingly.

14. Don’t Allow Unimportant Details to Drag You Down 

Oftentimes projects take longer than they should simply because employees spend too much time on minute details. It is good to be a perfectionist, but when small details begin to drag you down, it is time to act. Once you have been able to overcome the urge to frequently review and examine the work you have done; ensure to get the major work done first then you can review and make corrections where necessary.

15. Make Key Tasks Become Habits

Every employee has those daily key tasks their job entails; simply make these tasks a routine and you will realize how fast it takes to accomplish them.

16. Be Conscious of the Amount of TV/Internet/gaming time

Yes, it is good to relax, have fun and enjoy, but when TV, video games, and the internet, begin to affect your productivity, then it is time to adjust. Be conscious of the time you spend on these, especially on days you take task home to work on. Do not let the time you spend on them encroach on your work time.

17. Fix a Time Limit in Which to Complete a Task

In most cases every task has a deadline, always give yourself a deadline earlier that what is required from you and be disciplined about it, doing this will make you deliver on your tasks before your deadline. Also on projects where you do not have specific deadlines, give yourself a deadline and work towards it.

Create a time frame for every stage of the task and adhere to it. Don’t start a task and conclude that you will be done when it is finished. Give yourself a specific time you want to be done with the task, it saves time.

18. Leave a Buffer Time Between Tasks

When you bury yourself completely in your tasks and hurriedly move from task to task without taking a breather in between, it is often difficult to stay focused and come up with fresh ideas. Always take some time to refresh so that you can have enough motivation, energy, and freshness to get the best results.

19. Manage other people’s expectations

If you are the type that always drops everything he/she is doing to assist others, the person who always accepts to help others complete their tasks, you always have the spare time to attend to visitors even when it isn’t your duty, etc.

When you act like this at work, your colleagues would assume that you will always do these things and would expect you to keep on acting that way because it works to their advantage, but you, on the other hand, could be setting yourself up for poor time management and lack of productivity.

Do not use the time you are meant to be working on your task to help your colleagues get their work done. Assist others, on your spare time.

20. Close your Day

Okay, the three main points here are:

  • Appraise
  • Re-prioritize
  • Prepare

No matter what time you leave the office, set aside the last hour, or 30mins, or even 15 minutes before you go home to appraise your performance for the day.

Though most organizations have a structured employee appraisal, however, it is important that you review your achievement and shortcomings for the day, this would let you know how well you have done and the areas you need to improve and which task you have to carry over to the next day. You may have a journal of your self-appraisal.

This isn’t only going to help you with time management, it also makes you an excellently organized employee. It would help keep you calm and ready always. You will leave your desk feeling at rest because you have an idea of what happened today and what is going to happen the next day.

Re-prioritize: check your to do/priority list, take out the tasks and goals you have achieved, check your schedule for fast approaching deadlines, document issues that came up during the day including what you need to do about them and how.

Prepare: prepare for the next day.