Learning to manage your time isn’t easy as effective time management requires a big initial commitment, and on those lazy days, that sort of pledge just doesn’t seem worth it. Learning to manage your time can be done, though, even for those who find organization to be one big hassle. Learning better time management also has big rewards. Once you’ve mastered the basics of managing time it should become second nature, and you’ll be less stressed and have more time to do all those things you want to do. Here is a big bumper lot of time management tips:
1. Create a Plan
Creating a plan or a calendar/diary of events is the easiest of all the steps in time management as all you have to do is write down everything you do and roughly how long it will take. Making a list enables you to prioritize and also identify bottlenecks and blockages. If you know these in advance you can sort them out rather than fire fight later.
2. Set a Time
We are all victims of dragging something on for too long. Set yourself a time to complete a task. If you don’t achieve it, understand why. Also, go back and adjust your plan accordingly. Discipline is one of the key skills of effective time management.
3. Online Planning
These days we don’t have to rely on paper diaries and calendars. Our laptops, mobiles and phones all have electronic time management features meaning you can plan your time from anywhere at the click of a button. Take the easy way of controlling those time management demons.
When it comes to work, deadlines can be the bane of any good plan. So whenever a deadline appears, no matter how trivial, make sure that it’s written down on a calendar or a piece of paper so it isn’t forgotten.
5. Say “No”
One of the main reasons people fail to implement proper time management is because we take on too much. You might feel like Wonder Woman, but you’re not. You’re a human being and you have limitations and there are only 24 hours in any day. If you can’t handle that upcoming project then say something. Never suffer in silence. Poor time management is a major cause of workplace stress.
6. Early Bird
Just because you have to be there at the school gates to pick up your kids by three doesn’t mean that that time should be just a vain hope. Aim to arrive at 2:30 if you are really bad at managing your schedule. That way even if you’re late you won’t be leaving your kids wondering where mommy has gone off to.
7. Keep a Watch
It’s all well and good making a perfect schedule, but what many people fail to do is invest in a timepiece. Manage your time by making sure that you have a watch, a mobile phone, or any other time keeping device on you at all times. So many people who are always late for things are so because they simply don’t look at the time.
Multi-tasking feels like it’s a more efficient way of doing things. Just because it feels that way doesn’t mean that it is, however. The truth is that if you want to schedule your time better, you have to start focusing on one task at a time. Focusing on one thing enables you to get that job out of the way faster, as well as making planning that much easier.
9. The Job at Hand
A plan might say that sending out invoices is to be done at 1:45. The problem is that it often doesn’t get done until 1:55 because of the constant distractions that permeate modern life: Instant messages, the endless buzzing of the phone, and a husband that just won’t shut up. When a job needs to be done, stick to it and ignore everything else.
10. Perfectionist Disadvantage
Perfection is impossible. Getting something exactly the way you want it is often a vain quest. A valuable time management skill is knowing when acceptable is good enough. The extra mile isn’t always rewarded. Perfectionism is the sin of good timekeeping skills, so pack it away until it is genuinely needed.
Putting off that major job is just wasting time as procrastination can just as easily eat up time thinking about not doing it as getting on with it. When you have a list of jobs you have to prioritize, make sure that the most important ones are put right at the top of that list and work on them in order, allowing sufficient time for each. Schedule your time by making sure that those essential tasks are done as soon as possible.
The way to manage your time is to do the hard things when you are at your most productive. Only you know when your most productive time is. For some of us it’s the morning, and for others it’s the afternoon. I’m odd – mine is both very early morning and very late night. Do the complex tasks and awkward projects at the most productive time of day and those goals will be accomplished much faster, leaving you more time to do other things.
The art of delegation is where productivity reaches its peak. The more mundane jobs are easy to hand over to somebody else. If you work for yourself then you might want to consider investing in a virtual assistant to handle your invoicing or your filing and organizational requirements. Be smart in delegating – remember, it is delegation not abdication.
Combine similar tasks together. This is when multi-tasking can help with better time management. But that doesn’t mean you try to handle too much – common sense and the basics of time management still apply.
15. A Line in the Sand
Things can sometimes get to be too much and you just have to find some relief. The phone is ringing, people are knocking down your door, and your sister is coming to visit. Draw a line and just cut people off. Go incommunicado. Put other people off – not yourself. Unless it’s an event within a specific time set, everything is a moveable time feast.
16. Window of Opportunity
Rigidity can easily lead to task times becoming distorted and warped. A small five or ten-minute window in between each task or block of work is perfectly acceptable when it comes to time management. It’s called allowing yourself time to breathe.
17. Time Eater
Time eaters are things like Facebook, Twitter, and various other social media platforms. If they are wasting your time then shut them down. Seriously – who cares that you have just updated your status to say you are depressed so you just scoffed 2 Dunkin Donuts? Your depression probably stems from the fact that you are a time waster and don’t get things done - because you’re messing around on social media. Get a grip! Facebook, Twitter et al should be part of your leisure time, not a way of life.
18. Thoughts and Feelings
Of course, you need time to think things through and mull your life over. Don’t do it during your day, however. Consider setting a time first thing in the morning or after dinner where you can concentrate on yourself. That way when you manage your time you won’t be impacting on your daily routine.
19. Accept Failure
Accept that you will fail to get everything done sometimes. If your boss or client needs something done by a certain time, then they are probably not going to have a problem waiting a few hours for it to come through whilst you handle other things. Don’t take liberties and keep them informed. If they know you are following good time management rules, they should respond in a reasonable manner.
20. Freedom of Will Denied!
Your freedom of will wants to spend an extra five minutes watching TV before you resume working. Deny it reign by getting an alarm and setting it for certain times. If you are tempted to turn it off then put it out of your reach so you have to physically get up to silence it.
Manage your time by following the above tips. Proper time management skills are generally going to be refined over a significant period of time, but it is not unreasonable to expect some immediate results. Force yourself into better time management and eventually all of these things are going to become second nature to you.
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