There’s an old Chinese saying that goes “Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.” For both freelancers and businesses, standing still means losing money. It's the reason why moving forward is essential. But it's equally important to move forward by doing the right things at the right time and, moving in the right direction. It all connects to the ability to plan and control one’s time: in other words, time management.
Properly managing your time or the time of your employees greatly impacts the ability to accomplish goals. In fact, establishing goals is part of the time management process. Unclear goals and faulty priorities may eat up time you don’t have. Time management is not just about allocating duration to tasks, but also about monitoring where time actually goes. Read along to find out more about its benefits, as well as steps that help you work more efficiently.
Benefits of Time Management
Completing Tasks on Time
When you plan effectively and you start exercising conscious control of time, the concept of deadline shifts. It goes from a stress point to a productivity or efficiency point. Whether you are a freelancer, independent contractor or you’re managing a business, you surely understand the importance of deadlines. Research conducted on their effectiveness showed that human brains are wired in such a way that when tasks are placed in time-sensitive boxes, a higher level of attention is directed and these tasks are completed in time.
Improved Work Quality
Managing time correctly involves not only completing tasks within the set deadlines, but also allocating time and prioritizing the right way. Take into account the complexity of the different tasks and the goals you’ve set. Allocating more time to difficult tasks, setting realistic deadlines and setting aside non-essential tasks will allow you to deliver better results. However, lack of punctuality and procrastination are dangerous signs of poor time management. Consider all aspects when setting deadlines and allocating time.
A Better Personal Life
It’s no secret that successful time management results in working more effectively and not just working more. This automatically translates to spending less to no time on over time. No more working weekends, working from home or any other extra efforts necessary to get things done. Managing time correctly opens the door to better separating work from your personal life. It also helps to enjoy the latter so much more.
Steps to Master Time Management
As a freelancer, you want to master the art of time management. As a small business owner, you want your employees to effectively manage their time. You want them to complete all tasks within set deadlines.
- Planning – this is a crucial step as it allows you to see the big picture. It makes it easier to draft your short-term roadmap for immediate actions. Planning also helps you grasp the longer term goals, therefore helping you set priorities. It is very important to plan a strategy, set deadlines, and establish teams, if applicable.
- Resource allocation – not all tasks are the same and not all people either. For businesses, this step is self-evident: the right employees need to be allocated to the right projects based on their skills, expertise, and work capacity. Freelancers may think this step does not apply to them, as they are their only resource. But that’s exactly why it’s so crucial. Don’t over-allocate yourself! When accepting new projects or promising deliverables, make sure you have the time, energy and capacity to finish it all. Balance is everything for both businesses and independent contractors.
- Get rid of distractions – focus is your number one ally when it comes to mastering time management. By channeling your attention towards your work and tasks at hand, you’ll be able to complete them much faster and deliver higher quality.
- Make use of technology – there are plenty of options when it comes to time management software and there is a good reason why all project managers love this bit of technology. It makes planning and time allocation easier and it also enables the verification and revision process.
- Limit multitasking – although many people think they can do many things at once and do them right, science has in fact disproved multitasking. Researchers have shown that the process does not actually involve performing multiple tasks at once, but rather switching between them, which makes you lose focus, re-direct attention and waste productivity.
If you're interested in learning more about time management, check out our article The Ultimate Guide to Time Blocking.