Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?
If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. We often talk about not having enough time. Rather than focusing on that, and complaining to yourself or others about not enough time, think about what you do have enough time for.
“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” ― H. Jackson Brown Jr.
Here are some time management tips which can lead you to the concept of “Work Smarter & Not Harder”. This could help you to get productive and stay balanced at work as well as outside the office.
- Carry a Schedule
- 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.
- To Do List
- Plan your day/week 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.
- Any activity or conversation that’s important to your success should have a time assigned to it. Schedule appointments with yourself and create time blocks for high-priority thoughts, conversations, and actions. Have the discipline to keep these appointments. For making an effective To-Do List, one should have the ability to “Learn to say No”. Your objective should be to take on only those commitments that you know you have time for and that you truly care about. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no or defer it to a later period.
- Spare Time for Planning
- Once you have made your schedule and have prepared your to-do list, the next step is planning for these that how and when to do it. Don’t hurry while planning, and take your brain full resources to making the plan for utilization of your time effectively. For this using the following two tools can be very helpful to you.
- Using a calendar.Having a calendar (like Google Calendar, Outlook etc.) is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities.
- Using an organizer. The organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.
- Take the first 5-10 minutes of every day to plan your day. The most important time of your day is the time you plan to schedule time and your activities.
- Prioritize your tasks & Know your Deadlines
- 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.
- Also decide when do you need to finish your tasks? Clearly mark the deadlines in your calendar /organizer so you know when you need to finish them and don’t allow any activity to eat up your time which you have allotted to other activities.
- Plan for unexpected and have buffer
- The most certain event in this universe is the unexpected event. It is always better to plan how to manage alternately in case of any unplanned interruptions. This doesn’t mean to make an alternative plan, but to set the basic principal what to do in such case i.e. leaving that activity at the moment or sacrifice any other activity or partially complete at the moment etc. This will help you to go to as per your plan for other activities.
- For this, having a buffer slot between your activities is always recommended. So that you can use this buffer slot in case of any unexpected event. And even in normal situations it can be a breath of fresh air for our brains. While taking a break, go for a short walk, meditate, or perform some other mind-clearing exercise.
- Block Disruptions & Distractions
- When you have an important task in your hand or have busy schedule, put up a “Do not disturb”.
- Avoid Following Distractions especially in your busy schedule:
- Phone Calls (especially for nothing productive)
- Instant Messaging
- Block out Social Media like Facebook, Twitter etc.
- Time Limit for each activity
The basic reason why things overrun is because we don’t cut off when we 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. So Peg a time limit to each task. Be clear that you need to finish X task by 8A.M., Y task by 10A.M., and Z item by 12:30P.M. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.
- Focus & Delegate
- Be focus on your tasks, and take so much multi-tasking that you can manage easily. To remain focus follow the tips as discussed on Tip # 6. Besides these, you may need to have some concentration exercises, if you are mentally disturbed. If so, then give time for concentration exercises in your planning. Further Don’t fuss about unimportant details.
- Delegation of work will never let down your position if done properly and have proper check and balance. You need not to be afraid from Delegation. Try to delegate tasks which are of second priority or the delegatee is the professional for such tasks. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks. This delegation would increase your focus to your core tasks and improve the quality of your output.
- Have Full Sleep, Exercise and Relax
- Human Mind and Body are like machines, however, they need more rest / breaks then machines. If you think sacrificing sleep is a good way to hack productivity and wring a couple extra hours out of the day, you are wrong. It can be so once in a month or so but if carried on regular basis, it would cause to loose your efficiency. Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep for their bodies and minds to function optimally. You need to know if you’re getting enough rest and sleep. Listen to your body, and don’t underestimate the value of sleep.
- Getting regular exercise and have a good diet boosts energy levels, clear your mind and allow you to focus more easily. Health diet doesn’t mean having energy drink and costly food every time, it is more about having your meal at proper time with normal quantity.
- Batch Similar Activities Together
For related work, batch them together, so that synergy can affect your time consumption. Different tasks requires different types of thinking, and a persons thinking ability can be different for different types of work for example, normally a person who loves mathematics would not be liking arts more. Further while switching from one activity to other, human mind take extra time to adjust and adapt it. So try to gather similar types of assignment, but remember not to mix the high priority work with low priority work when you have already time constraints.
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