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5 Actionable Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity at Work

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A common resolution people make for the coming new year is to improve their time management skills, but how many people end up putting this into practice for the long haul? 

According to the U.S. News & World Report, eighty percent of individuals break their New Year’s resolutions by the second week of February. We spoke with Amy Perkins from insideARM about actionable time management tips for 2020, so that you (and the team at Arbeit) can become part of the twenty percent that sticks to their resolutions.

Tip #1: Take Control of Your Time at Work [1:24]

Imagine this – it’s the first week of the new year and you’re at your desk, ready to commit to your well-crafted time management strategy. 15 minutes into the day you get the dreaded “ad hoc” request. “This needs to be completed today,” your colleague states.

Now you’re feeling the pressure; you think to yourself, “how could I have possibly planned for this?” The answer is that you couldn’t have. You reluctantly complete the task and at the end of the day realize you didn’t get anything that you had planned to complete done.

In this situation, you’ve given someone else full control over your time, and have left them responsible for the outcome of your day. The first step to a better outcome and improved productivity involves better communication – not just on your part, but for the company’s leaders as well.

As a member of the leadership team, you need to set clear priorities for your subordinates’ tasks to reduce inefficiencies.

How to Take Action: Separate your team’s tasks into two or more categories based on importance and urgency. An example of this would be to create one category deemed “1st Priority: Necessary to Achieve Business Objectives” and another deemed “2nd Priority: Non-urgent Accessory Tasks.”

As a team member directly reporting to a member of the leadership team, for each “ad hoc” request have the member of leadership answer the following question – “Is this task the most important thing that I need to dedicate my time to today?”

How to Take Action: When putting this into practice, it’s important to frame the question mentioned above in the right way. You don’t want to come off as lazy, rude or arrogant. One way of doing this is to calmly explain the list of priority tasks you originally had planned for the day. If the “ad hoc” request is more important than those, this would be the time for leadership to let you know. This will help you appropriately adjust your time management strategy without neglecting the most important tasks.

You’ll find that with clear communication among leadership and subordinates, it’s more manageable to maintain the high level of self-discipline that’s required when sticking to a time management strategy.

Tip #2: Everyone Can Benefit From an Effective Time Management Strategy [5:02]

We’re not implying that certain personality types don’t have a natural ability to manage their time effectively. We’re simply stating that everyone can benefit from having a concrete strategy in place, especially for more creative types.

Have you ever caught yourself brainstorming idea after idea, with no execution of those ideas? This is where a time management strategy can help.

Do you catch yourself consistently getting distracted by your surroundings? A concrete time management strategy can help you hold yourself accountable for the tasks that need to get done and stay productive throughout your work day.

You may find that after having a time management strategy in place for some time, you’ve developed an instinct for managing your time at work more effectively.

How to Take Action: Hold yourself accountable and improve your personal productivity by creating lists before the workday begins. Create three lists: tasks to complete today, this week, and during free time. Then organize the tasks on each list by importance, A1 being the most important for today, B1 for this week, and C1 for time leftover. For each list, make sure you have some time where you’re able to attend to “ad hoc” requests if need be. If you’re lucky and none of those requests come up, you can use that time to complete the tasks that need to be done on the “this week” or “time leftover” lists.

Tip #3: A Work-Related Email or Text Isn’t Always Urgent [7:42]

This ties into our first tip, taking control of your time. Have you ever achieved a deep focus at work, only to be disrupted by an incoming message? I think it’s safe to say that we all have.

How to Take Action: Ask yourself, does the sender specify a time that the task needs to be completed, or message must be responded to by? If not, you’re guilty of assuming the worst. Most likely the email or text was sent as part of the sender’s priority list – don’t assume that taking immediate action has to be on yours. The best way to manage this is to explain that you received the message. Explain your priorities for today and this week, and suggest a time that you’ll be able to complete the task by. If that doesn’t work, you’ll know that the task takes precedence over your existing list.

Tip #4: Remember That You’re Not Responsible for Everything [8:23]

It’s highly likely you have a team of skilled individuals at work that can help you out if need be. These individuals may be more suited than you to complete certain kinds of “ad hoc” requests. Dare we say, they may even have some free time during their day or week. The thing is, you’ll never know if you don’t ask.

How to Take Action: Assess the “ad hoc” request. Is there someone else who is more skilled in a specific area and better suited to handle the task? If so, see if that individual has any free time on their schedule. If they oblige, you can communicate to the requester that your schedule is full, but you know of an individual who has the time and skills to complete the task.

Tip #5: Make Time for Yourself Outside of Work [9:53]

Achieving a promotion and being granted additional work responsibilities can be great for our careers, but it often comes at the expense of our personal time and productivity. This doesn’t have to be the case.

How to Take Action: Each time you earn a promotion or salary increase, try to outsource one of your “less than desirable” responsibilities outside of work to another individual. This will help you free up some of your mental space so you can focus on what’s most important to you.

Practical Time Management for Debt Collectors [10:44]

Since Amy worked her way up in the collections industry, from a debt collector to the president of InsideARM, we thought we’d ask if she had any time management tips specifically for debt collectors.

Here are her recommendations for staying productive:

 Have a system in place for each day and stick to it – Amy developed specific systems for handling each type of account

 Challenge tasks that don’t make sense to you – when Amy supervised collectors, she made sure that they felt comfortable making her aware of the tasks they felt had little value

Amy also discusses how time management can be extremely challenging in an industry with regulations and policies that are constantly changing. You can take some of the legwork out of implementing procedures that adhere to these with Click, Arbeit’s TCPA compliant dialer.

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