As professional women, we often wear many hats. We are entrepreneurs, executives, professionals, mothers – the list goes on. With so many roles to play, it can be challenging for us to feel we’re available to tackle everything that comes our way.
When managing our time, we may find some strategies work better than others to bring more balance to our lives and improve ourselves professionally. Or, we may be wondering where to start. Whichever is the case, we’ll discuss how professional women can manage their time more effectively and achieve their goals with these regimented time management strategies.
Set Time Limits For Tasks
Part of time management is knowing how long tasks will take to complete. This way, we can schedule our time accordingly and avoid overbooking ourselves.
To do this, break down big projects into smaller tasks and time yourself as you work on them. Once you know how long each task takes, you can more easily schedule time for them in your day-to-day.
You can also use time limits to avoid getting bogged down in one particular task. For example, if you have one hour to complete a project, give yourself 30 minutes to work on it and then take a five- to 10-minute break before returning to it with a better headspace.
Group Similar Tasks
Another time management strategy is to group similar tasks. For example, if you need to make a few phone calls for work, do them all at once instead of spreading them throughout the day. Batching similar tasks together can avoid context switching and complete tasks more efficiently.
This time management strategy also works well for things like errands. If you need to pick up a few things from the store, try to do all your shopping in one trip instead of making several smaller ones – it makes the most sense since you’re already out.
Create a Schedule
To make the most of our time, we must be intentional about how we spend it. One way to do this is by creating a schedule for our days, weeks, or even months. Doing so can help us stay on track and make time for the things that are most important to us.
When creating a schedule, include time for both work and personal life. If we get too caught up in our work, we may neglect other areas of our lives. We can maintain a healthy balance by including time for things like family, friends, and hobbies.
It’s also important to be realistic when creating a schedule. If we try to pack too much into our day, we’ll likely end up feeling overwhelmed. If our day is too open, we may have too much free time and not enough structure. Finding a happy medium is key to time management success.
Stick to the same daily routine as much as you can, including when you wake up for the day, go to sleep for the night, or work out, which can help create a sense of normalcy during chaotic times. If you need to adjust your sleep schedule, whether that’s going to sleep earlier to wake up earlier, or vice versa, do so gradually to give your body time to adjust. Wake up each day simultaneously, even on weekends, to help regulate your body’s natural sleep rhythm.
Define Your Work Hours
Another time management strategy for professional women is to define their work hours. Just because we have 24 hours in a day doesn’t mean we need to be available for work at all times.
Instead, and if you can, set specific work hours and stick to them as much as possible. This way, we can avoid burnout and have time for other essential aspects of our lives.
If you work from home, setting up a dedicated workspace can be especially helpful. This way, when it’s time to work, we can go to our designated area and be in the right mindset. When we’re not working, we can avoid bringing work into other areas of our homes and keep our personal and professional lives separate, so long as we set expectations with our teams when working remotely.
Of course, there will be times when we need to work outside our regular hours. But by having defined work hours, we can more easily stay on track with our time management strategy.
Set Aside Time For Interruptions
In today’s world, it’s nearly impossible to avoid all interruptions. Whether it’s a phone notification or an impromptu meeting, there will always be something that tries to throw us off our game. Instead of getting frustrated by these interruptions, we can proactively plan for them.
By setting aside time in our schedule for potential interruptions, we can be prepared for when they happen. This way, we won’t get thrown off and can still complete our tasks for the day.
While we can’t always control when these interruptions occur, we can control how we react to them. We can maintain our time management strategy by proactively planning for them.
Take Advantage of Downtime
We all have moments of downtime throughout the day, whether it’s a few minutes in between meetings or time spent waiting for an appointment. These moments may seem like wasted time, but we can actually use them to our advantage.
Ronna Chew, of the Bob & Ronna Group, understands this well. “Part of good time management for team leaders is to make sure you’re spending time with all your agents. They’re so important to your structure and organization, and they may need time from you to ask questions, have a shoulder to cry on, or just want to talk. Any kind of support they need, you need to be there for them as a leader. Whenever I have a little bit of downtime, I reach out to agents.”
Instead of scrolling through social media or playing games on our phones, we can use this time to complete small tasks. Replying to a few emails, returning a phone call, or even brainstorming ideas for a project during these times can reduce the time we’ll need to spend on them later.
By taking advantage of our downtime, we can make the most of it – and even get ahead on our to-do lists.
Delegate & Build a Support Network
To be successful women, we can’t – and shouldn’t – do everything on our own. One time management strategy is to delegate tasks to others or build a reliable support network. If there’s a task that you know someone else can handle, don’t be afraid to delegate it to them! Doing so allows us to reduce our workloads and free our time for other things.
However, we can still build a supportive network if we don’t have someone we can delegate to. Whether it’s our friends, family, or colleagues, these people can help us execute our time management strategy, whether they’re offering advice, lending a helping hand, or being a sounding board for our ideas.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Technology can be both a blessing and a curse regarding time management. While it can help us stay connected and be more productive, it can also be a major time-waster. Instead of letting technology consume our time, we can use it to our advantage by setting limits and being intentional about how we use it. This may include:
- Silencing our phones when we need to focus
- Using a time-tracking or project management app to see where our time is going
- Setting up email filters to prioritize messages
- Scheduling social media posts in advance
Chew adds that it’s essential for us to take advantage of 21st-century perks not just at the office but in our personal lives as well. “Utilize delivery services and curbside pick up, which will help you save you a ton of time in the long run.” She adds, “I would also advise, if you can afford to, letting the experts in other areas do what they do best. Hire people to clean the house or mow the lawn. Always think about whether your time can be better spent elsewhere.” By mindfully using technology, we can make time for the things most important to us.
Review Each Week
At the end of each week, take some time to review what you’ve accomplished. Doing so allows you to identify any time management strategy that works well for you and what may need some improvement. By examining how you spent that week, you can adjust your time management strategy for the following one. Regularly reviewing your time management strategy will help you stay on track and make the necessary changes.
Additionally, take time to review your goals for the upcoming week. Doing so will help you hit the ground running on Monday morning and make the most of your time.
But Most Importantly… Don’t Forget to Take Time For Yourself!
One time management strategy women often overlook is taking time for themselves. We may feel guilty about taking time away from work or other obligations, but we must remember that we can’t pour from an empty cup. “You have to take a break here and there,” Chew says.
We’re more likely to burn out when we don’t take time for ourselves, which can lead to more time spent on unproductive activities. To avoid burnout, we should schedule time for ourselves every day—even if it’s just a few minutes. Use this time for whatever you want, whether reading a book, getting some exercise, or taking a nap.
By taking time for ourselves daily, we can recharge and be more productive when needed.
Effective Time Management Requires Discipline
Professional women can benefit from implementing a regimented time management strategy in their lives. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, following some simple tips can help you get started. Set time limits for tasks, group similar tasks together, create a schedule, define your work hours, and take advantage of your downtime. Delegate and build a support network to help keep you on track. Use technology to your advantage by setting alerts and reminders, and reviewing your weekly progress. And don’t forget to take time for yourself. A well-rested and balanced professional woman is more likely to be successful than one who constantly feels rushed and stressed out.