Time management hacks for your new flexible job 

Nailing your time management skills is a must-have in a flexible role. Find out how you can increase productivity, reduce stress, and achieve a better work-life balance.

10th Apr 2024

Starting a new job is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. With new responsibilities, expectations, and a different work environment, it's easy to feel like there aren't enough hours in the day. 

But here's the good news: by mastering time management, you can set yourself up for success in your new role, reduce stress, and make a great impression on your colleagues and boss.

What is time management? 

Time management involves prioritising tasks, setting realistic goals, and allocating your time wisely to accomplish them. By nailing your time management skills, you can increase productivity, reduce stress, and achieve a better work-life balance. This becomes even more important in flexible roles, where you have greater autonomy over your schedule. Making the most of your time is essential for flexible roles.

In this blog post, we'll share 7 proven strategies to help you manage your time better, even when everything feels new and unfamiliar. 

1. Know what is expected of you and set priorities 

One of the biggest challenges in a new role is understanding what's expected of you and what tasks should take priority. Without clear guidance, it's easy to spend time on low-impact work while neglecting more important responsibilities.

To clarify expectations and priorities:

  • Schedule a meeting with your manager to discuss your role, responsibilities, and key objectives for your first 30, 60, and 90 days.
  • Create a list of your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks, and review it with your manager so you can make sure you're on the same page.
  • Learn how your work fits into the larger goals and priorities of the business so you know where to focus more of your time and energy.

By taking the time to clarify expectations, you'll be better equipped to prioritise your time and efforts so you can make the most impact in your role. 

2. Plan and schedule your tasks

Once you have a clear understanding of your responsibilities and priorities, it's time to create a plan of action. A well structured schedule will help you stay organised, focused, and on track, even when unexpected tasks or distractions arise.

To plan and schedule your tasks:

  • Use a calendar or digital planner like Trello or Monday.com to block out time for specific tasks, meetings, and breaks throughout the day. 
  • Prioritise your to-do list based on urgency and importance, tackling high priority items first. Tick off tasks once they are complete so you can clearly see the progress you are making.
  • Estimate how long each task will take, and build in buffer time for unexpected issues or interruptions.
  • Build in time for regular check-ins with your manager and colleagues to stay aligned and address any challenges or roadblocks.

Remember, your schedule is a tool to help you manage your time, not a rigid set of rules. Be flexible and adjust as needed, but always keep your priorities and goals in mind.

3. Keep an eye on distractions and interruptions 

In today's always-on, hyper-connected work environment, distractions and interruptions are a constant threat to productivity. From email notifications to impromptu meetings to social media scrolling, it's easy to lose focus and waste precious time.

To minimise distractions and interruptions:

  • Use noise-cancelling headphones or a white noise app to block out environmental distractions.
  • Turn off notifications for non-essential apps and email during focused work time.
  • Set clear boundaries with colleagues, letting them know when you're available for questions or collaboration and when you need uninterrupted focus time. If you use a platform like Slack you can set your status to show what you are working on or if you do not want to be interrupted. 
  • Take regular breaks to recharge and refocus, but be intentional about how you spend that time (e.g., taking a walk).

By proactively managing distractions and interruptions, you'll be able to work more efficiently and effectively, even in a busy, fast-paced environment.

4. Learn to say no (politely)

As a new employee, it's tempting to say yes to every request or opportunity that comes your way. After all, you want to make a good impression and show that you're a team player, right?

But here's the truth: saying yes to everything is a recipe for burnout. To manage your time properly, you need to learn to say no (politely) to requests that don't align with your priorities or capacity.

To say no politely:

  • Thank the person for thinking of you and considering you for the task or opportunity.
  • Explain that you're currently focused on other high-priority tasks and don't have the bandwidth to take on additional work.
  • Offer alternative solutions or resources, if possible, to show that you're still willing to help and support the team.

Remember, saying no isn't about being difficult - it's about setting healthy boundaries and ensuring that you can give your best to the tasks and responsibilities that matter most.

4. Delegate and collaborate 

As you settle into your new role, you may find that certain tasks or projects are better suited for other team members or departments. Learning to delegate and collaborate effectively is a key skill for managing your time and workload.

To delegate and collaborate:

  • Identify tasks or projects that can be delegated to others based on their skills, experience, and availability.
  • Give clear instructions, expectations, and deadlines to ensure a smooth handoff and successful outcome.
  • Communicate regularly with your collaborators to stay aligned, provide support, and address any challenges or roadblocks.
  • Celebrate successes and acknowledge the contributions of your team members to create a positive, collaborative work environment.

Remember, delegation isn't about shifting work onto others - it's about knowing the strengths and resources of your team to achieve better results and manage everyone's time more effectively.

5. Continue to work on your time management skills 

Time management is an ongoing process, not a one-time fix. As you settle into your new role and take on new responsibilities, it's important to continuously evaluate your approach to managing your time.

To continuously improve:

- Track your time for a week or two to identify patterns, time-wasters, and opportunities for improvement.

- Experiment with different time management techniques, tools, and strategies to find what works best for you and your work style.

- Ask for feedback from your manager and colleagues on your performance, productivity, and areas for growth.

- Invest in your own learning and development to build new skills and knowledge that can help you work more efficiently and effectively.

Remember, the goal is not perfection, but progress. By continuously improving and your approach to time management, you'll be better equipped to handle new challenges and opportunities as they arise.

6. Prioritise self-care and a work-life blend

Finally, it's important to remember that effective time management isn't just about getting more done - it's about creating a sustainable, fulfilling work-life balance. When you prioritise self-care and set clear boundaries between work and personal time, you'll be more focused, energised, and resilient in your new role.

To prioritise self-care and work-life balance:

  • Make time for regular exercise, healthy eating, and sufficient sleep to maintain your physical and mental well-being.
  • Practice stress-reduction techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or journaling to manage stress and maintain a positive outlook.
  • Set clear boundaries between work and personal time, and communicate those boundaries to your colleagues and manager.
  • Take regular breaks and annual leave to recharge and avoid burnout, and encourage your team members to do the same.

Remember, taking care of yourself isn't selfish - it's needed for your long-term success and well-being, both in your new role and beyond.

Starting a new job can be overwhelming, but by mastering time management, you can set yourself up for success and make a great impression on your colleagues and boss. By clarifying expectations, planning your tasks, minimising distractions, learning to say no, delegating and collaborating, continuously improving, and prioritising self-care, you'll be well-equipped to handle the demands of your new role and thrive in your career.