“Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” — Saint Francis of Assisi
Time is a precious commodity. How effectively, we use it determines our future. One of the most important skills you must have in life is powerful and effective time management. We all want to make the most of the 24 hours we get each day. However, some people achieve more happiness, productivity, and success – in the same amount of time as everyone else! It’s not about how much time we have. It’s about how effectively we utilize our time. Effective time management not only maximizes your productivity, but it also helps you to avoid stress and lead a joyful life.
The following strategies will help you get the right things done in less time. By practicing some, or all of the ten strategies below, you can more effectively manage your time.
1. Start your day with a clear plan.
First things first. Planning is the key to effective time management. It’s hard to feel organized and on top of things if you’re unprepared. Having a clear plan for your day helps you make the most of your time and actually accomplish the important goals in life. The first task of your day should be to decide what you want to achieve today. Come clear on this purpose before you check your email and start responding to queries and resolve issues. Setting a clear focus for your day might require as little as five minutes, but can save you many hours of wasted time and effort.
2. Make to-do lists .
Before starting the day, prepare a to-do list for that day. Include the tasks and activities you must do on a list and update it regularly during the day. Review this list frequently and add new items as soon as they appear. Make sure your list gives you a quick overview of everything urgent and important. But by making to-do lists, you’re effectively setting goals for the day. Daily goals are easier to achieve while helping to move us towards the longer and bigger goals.
3. Set Priorities.
Execute your most important and demanding tasks first thing in the morning. Resist the temptation to clear smaller, unimportant items first. Start with what is most important. Tackle your biggest tasks in the morning. Accomplishing those will give you the biggest momentum to help you sail through the rest of the day.
4. Set a Time Limit for Your Tasks.
The time you allot for a task influences how long it takes. Don’t let your tasks expand and fill up your day. Instead, set time limits for your tasks. Take another look at your time audit and identify tasks that take longer than you expect. By setting time constraints for these items, you will focus more and work more efficiently. If you still find yourself going beyond these time limits, examine your workflow and eliminate little time-wasters like unscheduled breaks.
5. Block out distractions.
Turn off all the Social media notifications, while you are at work. This will keep you concentrated on accomplishing your tasks. Most of us have the habit of checking FB or Whatsup messages and email notifications frequently during the work, which reduces potential productivity. Schedule specific blocks of time for email and phone notifications and reply if necessary. Identify the activities that tend to disrupt your work, and find a solution. One of the most essential time management skills is to not get distracted. Once you have broken your flow, it can be difficult to reestablish it. Instead, discipline yourself to work on a task single-mindedly until it’s complete.
6. Don’t procrastinate.
Due to various reasons, you may put off tasks. Perhaps the task seems overwhelming or unpleasant. Try breaking down the task into smaller segments that require less time commitment and result in specific, realistic deadlines. If you having trouble to start, you need to do a preparatory task such as collecting materials or organizing your notes. Also, try building in a reward system as you complete each small segment of the task.
7. Avoid multi-tasking.
Recent psychological studies have shown that multi-tasking does not actually save time. In fact, the opposite is often true. You lose time when switching from one task to another, resulting in a loss of productivity. Many of us multi-task and believe we’re effective when we do so, but evidence suggests that we can’t effectively focus on more than one thing at a time. In order to stop multi-tasking, try these: Plan your day in blocks and set specific time aside for meetings, returning calls and for doing detailed planning and analysis work at your desk.
8. Organize your day.
Most people find that disorganization results in poor time management. Professional organizers recommend that you first get rid of the clutter. Whether you’re a pen and paper kind of person or a computer hog, it’s important to have some sort of system in place that will allow you to get stuff out of your head and into a single trusted resource. From there, you can process what needs to be done and move it forward. With everyone working differently, it’s important that a system at work is flexible enough for individuals, yet powerful enough to allow a business to set out how things get done.
9. Take frequent breaks.
The human brain can only focus for about 90-minutes at a time. Schedule a break at least every 90 minutes to avoid burnout and maintain high productivity throughout your day. If you’re an entrepreneur working for yourself, this is crucial. It’s easy to run on fumes and not even know it. Keep your mental, emotional and physical states at peak levels by breaking frequently. The care and attention you give yourself is an important investment of time. Scheduling time to relax can help you rejuvenate both physically and mentally, enabling you to accomplish tasks more quickly and easily.
10. Review your day.
Spend 5-10 minutes reviewing your task list every day before you leave the office. Give yourself a pat on the back if you achieved what you wanted. If you think your day’s effort fell short, decide what you’ll do differently tomorrow in order to accomplish what you need to. Moreover, keeping track of your not-so-productive times will allow you to not only identify the reasons behind it but also optimize your time management strategy! Leave the office in high spirits determined to pick up the thread the next day.
Everybody is different and what works for one, doesn’t always work for another. So carefully analyze above time management strategies and select ones that work better for you. Successful time management today can result in greater personal happiness, greater accomplishments at home and at work, increased productivity, and a more satisfying future.