Get a Grip On Your Time

Be happier, more productive, and avoid burnout with these 8 tips

Summary: Studies have found a correlation between job satisfaction and effective time management. When an employee has control over their time, symptoms of burnout decrease, and overall physical and mental health outcomes improve. By creating a sense of personal purpose and control, leaders can improve employee well-being and increase job satisfaction.

Time is a slippery resource. You start your workday by checking your email and suddenly the day is half done and you don’t have anything concrete to show for it. This creates feelings of helplessness and hopelessness while you struggle to claw back time.  

A major factor in job satisfaction is perceived control over time. When the development of a strong time management mindset is encouraged, self-efficacy and job satisfaction increase. Stress research has also shown that control over time helps reduce stress.  

A major factor in job satisfaction is perceived control over time. When the development of a strong time management mindset is encouraged, self-efficacy and job satisfaction increase.

The correlation between job satisfaction and mental and physical health is significant. Studies have shown that employees unhappy in their work are more likely to experience emotional burn-out, have lower self-esteem, and have raised levels of anxiety and depression. Poor time management at work also bleeds into other aspects of a person’s life, often creating work-family conflict and strain. 

With studies showing upwards of 50% percent of workers are reporting burnout, the stakes are high. So, as a leader, what can you do about it? 

Talk about it.

First things first – you need to talk to your team. Do a risk assessment of stress at your workplace looking at factors like hours of work, management, workload, and work control/ autonomy.  Through meaningful consultation with your reports, you can start to pinpoint the issues and strategize on how to increase their job satisfaction.  

Encourage a strong time management mindset. 

Empowering your employees, and yourself, with a strong time management mindset is one way to combat feelings of burnout. Here are 8 tips that will help put you back in the driver’s seat. 

1. No is an acceptable answer.

Creating a space where you and your reports can say no is key to effective time management. If someone feels like they must take on every little task, they’ll start to feel out of control quickly. This creates feelings of helplessness and can lead to burnout. 

Through creating goals and priorities, you can help yourself and your employees recognize the appropriate tasks to say no to.  

2. Take regular breaks.

One of the biggest mistakes in the modern workforce is working through breaks. We’ve all done it and some of us wear our breakless days as a badge of honor. The truth of the matter, however, is that this is detrimental to productivity.  

Breaks allow our brains to refresh and refocus when we come back to work. Organizing your day around breaks can also be a great tool for optimizing time management.  

Take your lunch, go for walk, read a book, or call a friend. Your brain and workload will thank you.  

3. Stop multitasking.

Despite being a sought-after quality often listed in job postings, it turns out that multitasking isn’t good for productivity or our brains. A common misconception is that multitasking is necessary for good time management, but studies have shown that this isn’t true.  

A study conducted at Stanford University indicates that multitaskers struggle with filtering out non-relevant information, and this slows them down. Doing one task at a time will improve productivity and keep you engaged in your work.  

4. Exercise.

Like taking breaks, exercise is key to resetting our brain and boosting energy. It’s also a great tool for combatting stress. Turning your break into exercise is a great addition to your time management strategy.  

If you’re managing a team, it’s also worth considering building in weekly exercise time. You can encourage walk and talk meetings or create a weekly team exercise block. Building these positive workplace habits are collaborative, so ask your team what they need and what will work for them.  

5. Setting goals.

Identify and set effective goals. Effective goals have measurable outcomes and realistic timelines. When a goal has these qualities, they are possible to accomplish, leading to happier work lives. When goals aren’t specific, they become a burden and are often discarded. 

6. Prioritizing.

Having clear priorities are fundamental to effective time management. Time management won’t accomplish what’s needed if the needs haven’t been defined. Take the goals that you’ve set and arrange them in order of priority. Work on your highest priority goal first each day until you’ve achieved the goal or have temporarily exhausted the available resources available to you.  

7. Planning.

We’ve all had days that seem to have just slipped away from us, but with proper planning this can be reduced. Break your priority tasks into components you can handle within the time available. Try to be realistic about what can be accomplished in a day to reduce feelings of overwhelm.

Wherever possible, prepare all the materials and resources you need before beginning the task and minimize outside interruption.

8. Delegating.

We all know people who hoard work – and many of us are guilty of this to some degree. As you plan out your work, identify the tasks that only you can complete and the tasks that can be accomplished by others. If you’re overloaded, it’s important that you delegate. Holding onto work that can be done by others is damaging to your overall well-being, and ultimately the business.  

This is also crucial in developing talent and building an effective team. It can be scary throwing the ball to others because we’re worried they’ll drop it but holding on to the ball isn’t an effective solution.  

Monitor your progress.

As you work on improving your time management, monitor your progress and try to be as honest as possible with yourself. When you set blocks of time aside to work on a specific task, reflect when the times up on how you utilized your time.  

This will help you identify your habits of procrastination, what your interruptions are, and where you lack discipline. Understanding your workflow issues will help you figure out strategies to manage better moving forward. 


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