Time management is a very useful skill for increasing your productivity and reducing stress. Whether you are taking care of your family, attending classes, or working long hours, it is important to utilize your time efficiently. This will not only help you get more done, but it can also free up more time for you to pursue your other interests. Leading a hectic life makes it very easy to get stressed and overwhelmed; however, providing some order to the chaos can help tremendously. Fortunately, there are several ways to create more structure and organization in your life. Here are some excellent ways for you to improve your time management and alleviate some of the burden.
1) Set Goals
Every time you plan on accomplishing something, make sure you have realistic, clearly defined goals for what you want to complete that day. Big projects, in particular, can seem overwhelming, so it is important to break them down into smaller, more attainable goals. Apart from simply feeling discouraged, trying to tackle too much at once will hinder your efficiency. Without having an idea of where to start and how to go about finishing a task, you may end up procrastinating or giving up entirely. Because of this, setting achievable goals can be a great method for improving your time management and staying motivated. It provides structure that will help you to get started and take the first step.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
Decide which tasks are the most urgent and important and complete these tasks before trying to do anything else. Understanding the difference between urgent and important tasks can help as well. As President Dwight D. Eisenhower often said, “the urgent problems are seldom the important ones.” If something is both urgent and important, then it should be a top priority. Things that are neither urgent nor important are most likely distractions and should be avoided to use your time most effectively. Here is a link that further explains the difference between “urgent” and “important”:
3) Use to-do list’s
Create a list of everything you need to do for a given period, whether it’s for the day or the week. This will allow you to have all your tasks in one place and help you decide which are the most pressing. Consider using a calendar or weekly planner to store all your tasks and organize them by importance and urgency. You can also include any deadlines and the time frame you will use to accomplish each task.
4) Minimize distractions
If you are prone to using social media, television, or games, then make sure to turn off all of your devices while you are working on something. Unless your task requires you to use them, this precaution can help you remove the temptation altogether. In addition to removing any potential objects that might distract you, find a place where you will not be disturbed by friends or family. Be assertive and let people know that you will not be available during your scheduled work time. Hang a “do-not-disturb” sign on the door if necessary and let the phone go to voicemail (unless it absolutely cannot wait), but it is best to have your full attention on the task at hand.
5) Organize your available time
Once you have figured out everything that needs to be done, set up a schedule where you can allot a specific amount of time for each task. Daily or weekly planning can keep you organized and help you focus on the task in front of you. Having a little organization can greatly improve your ability to manage time wisely and prevent you from spending too much time on one thing. Using a time log for a while can also help you figure out where you can save time. Track how you spend your time every day and then decide which activities could be eliminated or shortened.
6) Focus on one task at a time
People often overextend themselves and take on too many tasks at once, leaving them stressed and less productive. Focusing on one task, on the other hand, will help you complete your main tasks much quicker as you can fully apply yourself. When you split your attention, you may be somewhat engaged in each separate activity but not fully engaged on any individual task (Schwartz, 2012). Because of this, putting your undivided attention into one task at a time will allow you to perform better and save time in the long run.
7) Take occasional breaks
Although it is best to approach projects one at a time, it can still be beneficial to take occasional breaks from an activity. This is especially important if you spend a long time working on the same thing. Take a break to get a snack, stretch, or do something else for a little while. You will come back to your activity feeling energized and recharged. This can give you a chance to recover, and you may even return with fresh ideas or a new approach.
8) Avoid procrastination
This is one of the most important things you can do to improve your time management. New tasks will continue to pile up, so putting off an activity that needs your immediate attention until the last minute will only make you more frantic and overwhelmed. While avoiding procrastination may seem like an obvious tip, it is all too easy to fall into this bad habit. If you wait until the last minute, you will end up rushing and your work will suffer for it. In addition to poor performance and sloppy quality, waiting until the last minute to complete a task is just stressful and unpleasant.
Have you had difficulty managing your time wisely? Are you a procrastinator? Let us know about your experiences and what strategies have helped you manage your time better.