10 Easy Ways To Improve Your Time Management
Have you ever looked around and wondered how those around you seem to have it all put together? How they manage to get so much done? Chances are, they have mastered their time management.
Time management is a skill that so many adults struggle with every day. But what most fail to realize, is that it is a skill. It is something you learn and develop over time. It is not a personality trait or talent.
Developing this skill is much less daunting when you realize that is all it is-learning something new. These 10 easy tips will help you on your way to making time management a well-worn habit.
1. Conduct a time audit
Time audits are a really simple but effective tool. When creating your to do list for the day, write down how long you think each tasks will take you. Then, as you go about your day, note how long the tasks actually took. At the end of the day, compare the two numbers.
Often, you will find that your estimates will be a bit off. Some tasks will take much longer than you thought, and others you overestimated. Some you will get pretty close, but it won’t be everything. So even if you have a pretty good handle on this, this can still be a beneficial exercise.
Having an understanding of how long things realistically take to complete will be incredibly helpful when creating your schedule in the future.
2. Define long and short term goals
In order to create a realistic and helpful schedule, you need to first define your long and short term goals. What is it that you want to accomplish? Big and small. Write them all down.
What you do each day should be propelling you to these goals in some way. These goals are what you will build most of your schedule around.
3. Keep it realistic
It is good to have dreams and wishes! But in order to turn those into goals, you need to bring them down to Earth a bit. You are only human, so make sure that your goals are actually reachable with the time and resources you have.
There are several ways people will evaluate their goals to make sure they stay defined and realistic. One popular method is to use SMART goals. SMART goals are
- Specific: your goals have real, defined numbers and deadlines.
- Measurable: your goals are trackable in some way.
- Attainable: your goals can be challenging, but must still be possible.
- Realistic: be honest with yourself about what you and your team are capable.
- Time-bound: your goals must have a set deadline.
Things like SMART goals will ensure that your goals are attainable and keep you on track to reaching them.
4. Prioritize your tasks
One of the most important things to do is prioritize. You need to know which tasks are the most important and pressing to complete. You should focus more of your energy on those tasks.
If you do not know which tasks are the most important, you could end up wasting time on less pressing tasks on accident.
5. Create a schedule
Once you have your realistic goals and know which tasks or projects are the most important, you need to create you schedule. It is good to have a few different schedules.
You should start with a more long term schedule-like a monthly schedule. From there you can break it down by the week if you like. But more so than that, you will need to create daily schedules or to do lists. Having the zoomed out view a long term schedule provides you with a direction and helps you know what to focus on day-to-day.
You can use whatever you want to organize these. Some options include:
- Scheduling apps
- Kanaban boards
- Post-it notes
- The notes app
It does not matter what you use, use whatever works best for you. The important thing is that you use something to keep you organized.
Some people like to use particular strategies to schedule their day. One popular method is the 4 D’s of Eisenhower Time Management Model. Those are:
- Do: these are the small tasks that you can do quickly in order to build momentum at the start of your day.
- Defer/Delay: these tasks do not need to be completed immediately and can be fit into your schedule later in the day.
- Delegate: these tasks need to be done, but not necessarily by you. Passing them onto someone else will ensure they still get done while freeing up some time for you to accomplish something else.
- Delete/Drop: these are unnecessary tasks that should not have been in your schedule in the first place. Remove them and move on.
Another popular method is to schedule your day in 15 minute blocks. Schedule things for as long as they take, but you will visually see it broken up into 15 minute sections.
There are some additional things to keep in mind when creating your daily schedule:
- Factor in what time of day your are most productive.
- Add in buffer time in case some tasks take longer than you thought or new things pop up.
- Be sure to add breaks so you can recharge and refocus. Not allowing yourself to take breaks will simply cause you to burnout.
- Batch any similar tasks together-like checking emails and text messages.
6. Utilize waiting times
We spend a lot of time waiting. Waiting for a train or our coffee at Starbucks. During that down time, complete easy tasks such as checking emails. Those few pockets of time will add up by the end of the day.
7. Block distracting apps
If you are someone that has trouble setting down your phone, there are apps for that. Apps such as Freedom will lock your apps for times that you set and make it impossible to get on them. Now you do not have to fall victim to doom scrolling when you’re procrastinating.
8. Use timers
Timers can be a great way to stay focused. Using the clock app or fun apps like ForestApp allow you to do productivity sprints for however long or short you want.
9. Reward yourself
Remember to reward yourself for your accomplishments. It is really easy to get bogged down by the mountain of stress-inducing tasks. Be sure to take time to reward yourself when you get things done. Even if it is something as simple as acknowledging that you finished something.
10. Be flexible
Even the best plans can go awry. New things pop up all the time, and you have to figure out how to fit them into your day. The most important thing is to not stress-even though you may want to. Know that things may need to get rearranged. Just simply reprioritize.
Going in with the mentality that things will probably change will save you the anxiety the comes with being too rigid.
Developing the skill of better time management is not necessarily a hard thing to do, it simply requires a bit of discipline. Implementing these tips will help you on your path to becoming more productive!
Additional articles you might be interested in:
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- 3 Time Management Game Changers (So You Can Have A Personal Life)
- 5 Time Management Tips For Busy Entrepreneurs
- Dana Simone Educates Women on Time Management and Fitness
- How To Schedule Your Content For The Next 12 Months
- How To Create A Monthly Marketing Plan
- Porsha Applewhaite-forde Helps Young Aspiring Entrepreneurs Achieve Their Goals
- 3 Goals You Should Have For The Content You Produce
- How To Effectively Execute Your Goals
- 5 Steps To Achieve Your Health Goals As An Entrepreneur
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- How To Achieve Results With Goals And Follow Through
Grace Lopykinski is a blogging intern at LadyBossBlogger. She currently attends the University of Tennessee and is studying business administration and English.