Improve Your Time Management in 5 Easy Steps

Online retailers tend to have very busy days. Adding new products, analysing statistics, answering questions from both customers and employees... and a thousand other things. There aren't enough hours in the day sometimes. This article is intended to help you accomplish more and be more productive.

Time management clock

For some people, the work seems to be much easier than for others. But what is the secret of efficient people? After thorough research, one constant is found: the planning of their day.

Instead of simply spending your day and getting through your to-dos according to a gut feeling, it makes sense to give your day, or even the whole week, some structure.

In order to find out how chaotic such a day can be and how much time is actually lost, time management expert Lisa Quast proposes a small experiment:

For one week, document what you do during a typical working day and how much time each task takes. The most important thing is that you are honest with yourself. Therefore, you should also document when you briefly open Facebook or watch a YouTube video that isn’t related to your business. You'll be amazed at how many hours a week you waste on email, Facebook, and other distractions.

Don’t get me wrong - I’m not immune to distractions either. While writing this article, my cell phone vibrated 12 times, there are 17 new emails in my inbox, and three colleagues have come by the office so far.

Does that seem familiar to you too?

People who work a lot with computers (and the internet) are particularly at risk of being distracted by things and postponing their current task even further. If you want to reach your goals and increase sales at the end of the month, planning out your day can really help you.

Fortunately, with a little discipline, better time management is possible. It can be achieved in 5 steps:

1. Find out which tasks/distractions take the most time

The little experiment mentioned above can really open your eyes. For one week, document what activities your day consists of and how much time each activity takes up. Analyse the result and find out where/how you could be more productive.

businessman using smartphone

2. Plan your week

Taking 20 quiet minutes once a week to plan your week can make you much more efficient. Write down what you need to accomplish and when you want to accomplish them, and with the due dates. That will make it easier to figure out which days you’ll want to do each task.

3. Prioritise your tasks

Some tasks are more important than others, some can be postponed, and others must be completed as quickly as possible. List the tasks this week in order of importance.

This will give you a clear view of what is really a priority.

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Photo by Aman Upadhyay

4. Take your time

For tasks and projects with low, medium and, above all, high priority, you should block off a fixed time in your calendar in order to work undisturbed.

If you're just getting started with structured time management, you may end up planning too little or too much time on those individual tasks. Don’t get discouraged - that’s normal. After a few weeks of planning, you'll develop a sense of how long you’ll need for those tasks and planning will get easier in time.

5. Special e-mail times

It is estimated that an average office worker receives and sends 120 e-mails per working day.

E-mails tend to flutter in at the worst possible times, don’t they? They can easily interrupt your workflow and take up a large portion of your working day.

Therefore, instead of being deterred from doing more important things with every email, experts recommend that you keep a certain window of time free to answer mails. This will help you become more efficient and avoid letting relatively unimportant emails distract you from higher priority projects.

Conclusion

The more disciplined you become when it comes to time management, the easier it is to manage your to-do's. Now, you won’t ever have to ask yourself every how your workweek will be - you’ll already know!

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