If you’ve ever wondered to yourself, where did all the time go? Chances are you have a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it.
We all have the same 24 hours each day. The difference is, while some of us are wizards at utilizing time and making each second count, the rest of us piss away the hours doing some mundane or less-productive activities.
Here are some time management tips to help you should find helpful.
1. Create a daily plan.
Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard.
Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible. Don’t start your day until you complete your time plan. The most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time.
2. Do a time audit for one week and look at exactly where your time is going.
Notice where you spend your time on a regular weekday. Notice how you use time at a weekend. Taking the results of your time audit, think about where you might want to redistribute a little of your time. What could do with a little more time spent on it? What are you spending time on that you don’t really enjoy or value? When are the main points in the day you waste time?
3. Any activity or conversation that’s important to your success should have a time assigned to it.
To-do lists get longer and longer to the point where they’re unworkable. Appointment books work. Schedule appointments with yourself and create time blocks for high-priority thoughts, conversations, and actions. Schedule when they will begin and end. Have the discipline to keep these appointments.
4. Schedule time for interruptions.
Plan time to be pulled away from what you’re doing. Take, for instance, the concept of having “office hours.” Isn’t “office hours” another way of saying “planned interruptions?”
5. Put up a “Do not disturb” sign when you absolutely have to get work done. The sign would save you the time you would spend turning people down.
6. Practice delayed response
Don’t answer the phone just because it’s ringing and emails just because they show up. Disconnect instant messaging. Don’t instantly give people your attention unless it’s absolutely crucial in your business to offer an immediate human response. Instead, schedule a time to answer email and return phone calls.
7. What’s distracting you in your work?
Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in? Social media? Block out all distractions unless you use these tools to generate business. If you’re using social media for business, schedule some of your updates. You don’t have to be there all of the time.
8. Value your time and other people will do the same. We’re all equal when it comes to time.
9. Find out why you are procrastinating
If you’re procrastinating, rather than getting frustrated or annoyed, simply ask yourself why you are procrastinating. Are you scared of the task ahead? Is it too difficult, too easy, or boring? Are you tired? We can waste a lot of energy and time on the things we’re putting off.
10. End your working day at a fixed time.
Don’t let work creep up to fill your entire evening. You can also have two finishing times. One for an ideal day, and one latest time that you won’t work past.
11. Make use of dead time.
What do you do when you’re waiting in the doctor’s office or headed home on the train? If you’re staring out the window, you’re wasting valuable time. Instead, you could be sending emails or brainstorming and taking notes on your next project at work. You could even use this dead time to work in your daily stress-relieving breathing exercises as long as you’re doing something productive.
You can actually get an awful lot done in half an hour. Don’t just float because you’ve only got half an hour until your next meeting or appointment.
12. Take mini breaks.
When you need breaks, take off them during the day to recharge and refocus. Too much stress can take a toll on your body and affect your productivity.
Take a walk, listen to some music or do some quick stretches. The best idea is to take off from work and spend time with your friends and family. We all need down time. Schedule some. And don’t feel guilty for doing this.
13. Identify anything causing a regular, repeated drag or drain on your time. These might include technology, systems, workflow or people, for example. One by one, take these things and fix them, address them, or change them to free up more time.
14. Note how long it takes you to get a task done
If you’re doing a task where you’re likely to get distracted and spend longer than you want to there (for example, on social media, email, or internet searching), take off your watch and put it on the desk, noting what time you started and how long you intend to spend there.
Alternatively, you could just face the clock in the room and take note. Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a timepiece in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment. Check on the time passing regularly.
15. Record your thoughts
Carry a schedule and record all your thoughts, conversations and activities for a week. This will help you understand how much you can get done during the course of a day and where your precious moments are going.
You’ll see how much time is actually spent producing results and how much time is wasted on unproductive thoughts, conversations, and actions.
16. Know which method works for you
Do you like the pressure of working to tight deadlines or not? For example, do you only feel motivated to get started on a project the night before it’s due in, or do you prefer to leave yourself plenty of time?
Either way is fine, but know which method works for you and use it to your advantage. Either set yourself more deadlines or make sure you leave time to plan and deliver well in advance.
17. Check in with the cycles of nature now and again.
See how you are feeling in relation to sunrise and sunset, or to the changing of the seasons. We often get caught up in our own perception of time, but there is a bigger natural cycle going on too.
18. Give time limits to each task
We regularly underestimate how long something will take us. Factor this in! Peg a time limit to each task. Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.
19. Use a calendar.
Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, the calendar comes as part of your mailing software. Google Calendar is great. It’s even better if you can sync it to your mobile phone and other hardware you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are.
20. Learn to say “No”.
Don’t take on more than you can handle. Take a look at your ‘To Do’ list before agreeing to take on extra work. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.
21. Target to beat deadlines
When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time. For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.
However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time. For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.
22. Set reminders 15 minutes before.
Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.
23. Learn to focus on key tasks
Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time.
In fact, stop multitasking. Multitasking is a myth! As NPR reports, humans can’t physically multitask. Our brains instead juggle attention from one task to the other so quick we’re given the illusion we’re multitasking.
But we’re not very efficient at it. If you try to do too many things at once, you probably won’t finish those tasks to a high standard. Plus, it could take you more time than if you simply focused on one task at a time, meaning you only hinder your productivity by multitasking.
Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.
24. Track your spent time.
Egg Timer is a simple online countdown timer. You key in the amount of time you want it to track (example: “30 minutes”, “1 hour”) and it’ll count down in the background. When the time is up, the timer will beep. Great way to be aware of your time spent.
25. Prioritize the importance things
Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest. Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization.
26. Learn to delegate responsibilities.
If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.
27. Batch similar tasks and related work together.
Categorize all your tasks into core groups Fro example: (1) writing (articles, emails) (2) training (3) business development (4) administrative. By batching all the related tasks together, there’s synergy.
If you need to make calls, allocate a time slot to make all your calls. It really streamlines the process.
28. Don’t pack tasks closely together.
Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each task. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.
29. Complete your most important tasks first.
It’s easy to start your day with the simplest tasks. It makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something even when you’re avoiding your big project. But by the time you’re done with the less important tasks, you’re already worn out and even more reluctant to start on your priority work. Switch things up and perform the most important tasks first. It will be a relief once you’re done, and the rest of your day will run more smoothly.
30.Cut activities off when you need to.
#1 reason why things overrun is that you don’t cut off when you have to.
Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.
How do you handle time management?
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