Time management is one of the most needed skills of the 21st century. At the time when everyone has so many goals to achieve, time has become a very limited commodity. Increase productivity and have better control of your time and future by creating a schedule and managing your time.
Here are 12 ways to manage your time:
- Decide your motivation and goals
As unrelated as this may be, deciding on your motivations and goals is the first step to finding the will to manage your time. Without a strong will and strong motivation, most people will not likely stick to their schedule and might even give up along the way.
A strong sense of motivation will push you through when obstacles and difficulties get in the way and strengthen your resolve to avoid time wasting in distractions and procrastination. The image of your ideal life would also motivate you to follow through with the schedule that you had set.
- Track how you’re using your time
The next step after finding out your goals and motivations is to track your daily schedule. Go through the day as usual, but note how many minutes you have spent on each activity of the day. Just by tracking your time, you will be able to know the minutes that you use in a day and allocate it to something that would lead you towards your goals.
The next step would be to track the time for your most important tasks. Focusing in too many tasks would only make you confused and burned out. It would therefore be recommended to focus only on several important tasks and not overwhelm yourself. Finishing four important tasks motivated is better than finishing eight, but leaving you demotivated.
- Adjust to unexpected events
When managing your schedule, everyone would surely expect that things would go well as planned. That is not the correct way of setting up a schedule, as there will surely be certain occasions where accidents are unavoidable.
The safe way is to anticipate for the worst case scenario. For instance, you can set extra time to travel to a meeting place by an hour rather than only half an hour. This ensure that your heart will feel at ease and you can still arrive to the meeting on time even with traffic, accidents and the sorts happening on the road.
You can also increase productivity and prevent accidents from affecting your schedule by using every minute of your day more wisely. Commuting to work will not only be what it is, but rather could be an opportunity to listen to a podcast or expand your knowledge by reading a book.
- Limit time on each task
According to Parkinson’s Law, work tends to fill the time that is available. A one-hour work can be stretched out to become two-hour work if you give yourself so much time. This is the case with most procrastinators, in which tasks are done in the last minute before the deadline.
Become more efficient with your time by being more ruthless with your time. Try to limit the amount of time in doing your work by dividing the time according to the tasks, and stick to the schedule. Writing an essay takes for hours, but you can divide the tasks to writing the previous two hours and editing for the latter. Add an additional hour the next time if you feel pressed for time.
- Use Pomodoro Technique
Those who have problem with their time management can try to do their tasks using the pomodoro technique. Francesco Cirillo, inventor of this technique came up with it during his days as a university student in which he used a kitchen timer in the shape of a tomato. This method is known to be efficient both in allocation of work time and break time to prevent an onset of burnout. Afterwards, you will still be able to focus and continue on your work.
In this method, he would break work into 25 minute increments with 5 minutes of break in be between. After 4 sessions or ‘pomodoros’, then one can take 20-25 minutes of break to rest their mind.
- SMART Goals
Ever heard the phrase, ‘work smart, not hard’? The SMART Method is one that is dedicated to that philosophy. In this method, users are expected to prioritize and do the tasks that are important first and foremost. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Agreed Upon, Realistic and Time-Based. All of these acronyms refers to goals.
No matter how hard you work, your goals will not be reached if the things done did not contribute to your personal goals. You would simply be busy yet sacrificing efficiency.
- Organize Schedule Around Energy Levels
As dedicated as you may be to completing your goals, there will be times when your energy levels are at a low state. Solve this problem by working your schedule around the times when your energy levels are high.
Important and difficult activities should be done during the times when your energy is at its highest peak while low-value and low-energy tasks can be set when our energy levels are low.
- Categorize and do tasks
In order to minimize confusion over the tasks that should be done, it would be wiser to gather them together in one category. After doing that, you can start doing the tasks depending on the category it is in. Every task we do would need different sets of skills to accomplish. By categorizing the tasks into different categories, it would limit the confusion as well as create one sole focus on the mind.
Doing different tasks at the same time would only create confusion as you will need to switch skills in the middle of the tasks. In that way, you will also be able to keep focus while preventing mental exhaustion from doing different tasks throughout the day.
9. Do the Hardest Tasks First
Observe your to-do list. If there is a difficult task that requires you to do it first thing in the morning, then it should be the first thing that you do as your reach your desk. Doing this ensures that you are relieved of your most important task and can later on do other tasks that are not as draining as the first. Other than that, you will also get the feeling of accomplishment that you can feel throughout the rest of the day.
10. Give Yourself Rest Time
As motivated as you are running from one meeting to the next, doing that continuously will cause detrimental effects to your productivity. Rather than giving your all in your tasks, giving your mind some time to rest will make it work more effectively by the next meeting. This is because your mind can only work for about 90 minutes at a time. The buffer time does not need to be an elaborate activity but can be something as simple as taking a walk, meditating, or just daydreaming.
11. Use an online calendar
Calendars have always been an important tool for time management. You can set the time and manage your tasks with just one tool. Nowadays, calendars have undergone an evolution to have more function and use out of it. You can access it from multiple devices, easily schedule meetings and appointments, set up reminders, create time blocks, and schedule recurring events.
12. Review your day
Finally, reviewing is the final activity after doing all the management techniques that are written above. This may seem redundant now that you have done your tasks, however doing this is guaranteed to improve your productivity. Taking down notes would ensure that you did not waste time on activities that did not matter.
By the next day, you will be able to complete the tasks more efficiently than you did the day before.
Have you tried any of the above techniques? What other time management tips have you tried? Share your experiences in the comments section below!