When we think about effective time management we often look at it as a means of better organising our professional lives. However, it is also a valuable tool for maximising and making better use of your leisure time and the time you spend with your family.

There is little doubt that your family is one of the most important things in your life, if not the most important. While your professional life is also very important you do not want to miss your children growing up and the other joys of family life.

But all too often the time we spend with our families is cut short by long working hours and overtime. Also, because of the long hours and pressures of the job, once we do get home we are often too tired, stressed and frustrated to truly enjoy our family time.

However, it does not have to be this way. With a little thought we can identify and eliminate bad habits and outside influences that effect our productivity at work, thereby cutting out those long hours spent working late.

The first thing you need to ask yourself is why you are not getting the work done within normal working hours? What are you doing, or not doing, that is affecting your productivity? This could be any number of things. Do you while away the minutes chatting to co-workers or take regular breaks to check out your Facebook profile. If so, you will need to make some changes.

The first thing you need to do is make sure you remain focused during your working hours. Set out the tasks you need to complete in the day and allocate time slots for them. Be realistic here, do not bite off more than you can chew.

Also look at how outside influences may be slowing you down. Do you have colleagues constantly interrupting your work by asking for advice. Is so, tell them you are not available for this or only available at a certain time in each day. Also do what you can to eliminate other distractions in the office or where you work at home.

Consider also how you can use the colleagues around you or other professionals around you to help you use your time more effectively. If you find that certain tasks are a real drag on your time. Consider delegating these to people who are more suitable for these tasks.

Once you have taken steps to eliminate the things that are wasting time in your working day you can concentrate on what you yourself need to get done. Try structuring your day into 15 or 30 minute segments and write down what you are going to achieve in these time slots. Don't try to pack too much in, but spend this time focusing solely on the task at hand. Also, try to group smaller tasks into segments. For example, instead of checking your emails three or four times in every hour, dedicate one or two 15 minute time slots in each day to completing this task.

It takes a little planning to use our work time effectively but it can be done quite easily. I encourage you to take these few simple steps and you will find you will have much more time to spend with your family.

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