Reading Length: 5 minutes
Time management can be a difficult skill to acquire due to all the things we are juggling everyday. Why do some people seem to handle time management better than others? It’s a matter of organization and making use of time to get more done effectively. Making use of that time can make you feel more accomplished and productive. Here are some tips:
- Set your goals based on S.M.A.R.T.
This represents Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Be clear and realistic about the outcome you want.
- Plan your day ahead.
The night before, try to spend at least 15 minutes listing your most important tasks for the next day. During your morning routine, write down 3 or 4 important tasks to do that day.
- Create a schedule and stick with it.
You need to organize your days and weeks ahead of time. Unexpected things can arise but you can still refer to your schedule. Tracking everything you do helps as well with identifying patterns in your activities.
- Use an online calendar.
This makes it easier to schedule meetings and appointments, set up reminders, time blocks, and recurring events. Some options are Google Calendar, Outlook and Apple Calendar.
- Have an early start to the day.
Most successful people start their days early. You are more calm, creative and clear-headed when you have an early start. If you’re not a morning person, try waking up 30 minutes earlier than your usual time. It gives you more time to get things done in the morning.
- Do your most important tasks (MITs) in the morning.
You usually have the most energy in the morning so it’s best to take on your MITs when you’re not drained. You also get to feel accomplished throughout the day.
- Prioritize your work.
Prior to the start of the day, list all your important tasks. Leave the unimportant task for later. Identify which tasks are more important in the short, medium and long term. See where you should best focus your energy on. You can prioritize tasks based on this:
- Important and urgent: Do these tasks right away.
- Important but not urgent: Decide when to do these tasks.
- Urgent but not important: Delegate these tasks if possible.
- Not urgent and not important: Set these aside to do later.
- Batch similar tasks together.
Put the similar tasks together such as emails and phone calls. This is because tasks require different types of thinking so your brain isn’t constantly switching.
- Delegate or outsource your tasks.
Hand over your responsibilities to someone else such as a team member or experienced freelancer. You can train them and this lessens your workload. You can focus on growing and giving yourself space.
- Set a time limit and deadline.
Setting a time limit can be helpful in preventing procrastination or getting distracted. If there is a time limit, it encourages you to complete the task on time. You can also set a realistic deadline a few days before the task is due.
- Make use of a to-do list.
Create a to-do list for each project or goal. Break it down into measurable steps to be accomplished.
- Set boundaries by saying “No.“
Look at your task load before you agree to anything. Let family, friends and others know that you are not available. Let them know politely. Identify the hours you wish not to be disturbed, what is considered an “emergency,” and when you will be free. Take care of your time and energy because no one else will do it for you.
- Avoid procrastination.
Procrastination can negatively affect productivity due to wasted time and energy. You will find yourself behind schedule if you give into distractions. Some examples are staying away from social media and emails. Try scheduling small and fun activities in your day in order to break up challenging tasks. You can even get a head start by finishing your next day’s tasks the day before.
- Avoid multi-tasking.
We tend to perform best when we are focused on one thing. Avoiding checking your phone and your email inbox when you are engaged in a task. Try to focus on the task at hand.
- Use the 20 minute rule to find your “flow state.“
You can “get in the zone” by setting an alarm for 20 minutes to focus on a task at hand. Without any distractions, stay focused and give everything you can to the task for those 20 minutes. After the alarm rings, you can take a small break and then get back to the task again. Repeat this process.
- Alleviate stress.
Stress can arise when we take on more work than we can finish which leads to exhaustion. We can alleviate stress by:
- Going outside for fresh air
- Taking a walk
- Talking to a friend
- Engaging in a favorite hobby
- Doing breathing techniques
- Listening to a favorite podcast or song
- Take regular breaks.
The human brain can usually focus about 90 minutes at a time. If you feel stressed or tired, take a 10-15 minute break. Don’t just jump from task to task. Try scheduling your break times so you can have energy for later. During breaks, you can take a walk, stretch, listen to music or spend time with friends and family. Taking breaks increases creativity and focus.
- Use time management apps.
There are plenty of apps on both iPhone and Android. Some apps include Rescue Time, Toggl, Cal, aCalendar, Focus Booster, Asana, Airtable, Freedom and Trello.
- Make use of waiting time.
Don’t waste time waiting. Spend that time wisely. Make use of the time by reading an inspirational book or listening to a podcast.
- Remember 80/20 Rule.
The Pareto Principle states that 80% of results come from 20% of the effort put in. The key is to simplify your tasks to find your 20% which is the five tasks to focus on. You can eliminate tasks to identify your most important tasks.
- Don’t wait for inspiration to start working.
Inspiration can only come after action. Just start doing the work. Inspiration and motivation will come after.
- Organize your desk, task list, inbox, etc.
Maintain both an organized physical and digital space for yourself. This can prevent you from scrambling to find old things.
- Take care of your work-life balance.
Without this balance, you could experience stress which can affect other areas of your life such as work.
- Seek a mentor for help.
You can find a time management mentor to help you set goals, hold you accountable, give you advice and share their journey.
- Find inspiration.
You can find inspiration from Ted Talks, quotes, videos and audiobooks.
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