Time Management Tips
Too many of us are stretched too thin because we buy into the myth that everyone can (and should) do it all. So, we work full-time, spend quality time with our children and spouses and pets, spend time with our friends, do volunteer and committee work, get involved in causes, work at staying fit and healthy, and spend time relaxing and rejuvenating ourselves.
Managing your time successfully implies accomplishing what is most important for you. And what really matters is that you are healthy and happy with how you are spending your time. When you don’t accomplish what you truly want, you may feel confused, compromised, and frustrated. Anxiety manifesting in different forms can be a very real consequence.
Common thoughts contribute to poor time management including: “My life is completely controlled by external events”, “I should meet everyone’s expectations”, and “I should have no limits”. The fact is you can have control over many aspects of your life. Try not to fall into the trap of learned helplessness by “buying into” these distortions.
With good time management skills you are in control of your time, your life, and your stress and energy levels. You are able to maintain balance between your work, personal, and family lives. And, you have enough flexibility to respond to surprises or new opportunities.
But, you must learn what you can and cannot control before making your choices. The needs and demands of others may be inappropriate for your lifestyle or a different priority than your own.
So, you must become clear about what your needs are and then consider what others expect of you. Failure to acknowledge this may lead to perfectionistic expectations resulting in procrastination if the perfection demanded is unrealistic.
Time management can help you gain control of your life, succeed in your endeavors, have more free time, overcome procrastination, lead a balanced life, meet deadlines, reduce stress, make room for social/recreational activities, reduce wasted time, and be more productive and efficient.
Below are 21 tips:
21 Time Management Tips
- Find out how you use your time: Keep an activity log for a week.
- Make a list of everything you plan to do: Divide it into fixed commitments (obligations to be completed by a specific deadline) and flexible commitments (obligations you can meet on a time available basis).
- Plan and organize: Forget the “shoulds” and organize in a way that makes sense to you.
- Set goals: Goals give your life and the way you spend your time, direction. Set goals that are specific, measurable, realistic, and achievable.
- Prioritize: Prioritize time concentrating on items with the greatest reward and soonest deadlines.
- Use a to-do list: Schedule your list the last thing the previous day or first thing in the morning.
- Be flexible: Allow time for interruptions and distractions by planning for just 50% or less of your time to handle the interruptions/unplanned emergency. Save larger blocks of time for priorities.
- Consider your biological prime time: The time of day when you are at your best (peak energy times) should be used for your priorities if possible.
- Optimize your work environment: Make it conducive to concentration as well as comfort.
- Do the right thing right: Focus first on effectiveness (identifying what is the right thing to do), then concentrate on efficiency (doing it right).
- Eliminate the urgent: Urgent tasks have short-term consequences while important tasks have long-term, goal-related implications.
- Eliminate the unnecessary: Whether professionally or personally, anything that prevents you from reaching your particular goal could be considered unproductive. So, if your goal is to clean out your email inbox, then don’t spend 45 minutes on Facebook.
- Reduce Interruptions: Realistically, you can’t reduce the number of things that are going to interrupt you, but you can alter the way you deal with them. Some interruptions can be put off until later and some become a new priority. Evaluate each interruption and how/when you will deal with them. Not all interruptions should be dealt with the same.
- Practice “Intelligent neglect”: Eliminate trivial tasks or delegate them.
- Accept what you can’t change: Focus on areas in which you have some control. Don’t place unrealistic expectations on yourself.
- Avoid being a perfectionist: Perfectionism is the number one cause of procrastination.
- Conquer procrastination: When you are avoiding something, break it into smaller tasks. By doing a little at a time, eventually you’ll reach a point where you’ll want to finish.
- Learn to say “No”: Don’t over-commit, avoid over-planning, and ask for help when you need it.
- Reward yourself: Celebrate achievement of goals even for small successes.
- Unplug: Make yourself the manager of your technology rather than being managed by it. Set aside particular times of day to read or listen and respond to email, texts, social media, and phone calls.
- Time Off: Incorporate time off into your schedule. Ironic, huh…But, It doesn’t matter how much time you put into your work if you’re becoming unproductive and not doing it right. When you take some time off, you return to work refreshed and more productive.
Time Management: Final Thoughts
Hopefully, the 21 time management tips listed above stirred deeper thinking about how you approach your schedule and sparked new insight. I recognize that time management is a struggle for many – we live in such a 24/7 world. That’s why the book, Eat That Frog, authored by Brian Tracy is such a great read!
Inside, you will find lots of meaningful ways to make the most of your time using easy to implement solutions. It is a book that I highly recommend to anyone who is looking to strengthen their time management skills and become more productive.
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