It should come as no surprise to anyone that you don’t get a second chance with the time you spend in any given day. That hour you spent this morning mindlessly scrolling through your Facebook news feed is an hour you can never get back. It’s an hour that you can’t put towards more productive pursuits, such as work, personal development (whether that’s physical or mental) or learning something useful such as a new skill that will enhance your employability.
In this blog post you’re going to learn seven steps to more effective time management. Follow these strategies and you will be able to deploy your time in a much more efficient manner, resulting in greater personal productivity; getting you more out of life.
Arming yourself with a daily to-do list is one of the most effective time management strategies around. By knowing exactly what it is you need to do on any given day, you are less likely to waste time on unnecessary tasks. A to-do list that has been properly thought out will help you identify what is essential, and what is largely unnecessary. I personally recommend checking off items as you complete them; this will help you to retain focus and drive.
It is my experience that the vast majority of problems that people have with time management are as a result of being distracted, often by websites, social media, or electronic devices. If distraction is interfering with your daily routine, then you need to remove yourself from that distraction. For example, switch off your cell phone while working and place it somewhere out of arm’s reach. If you find yourself being side-tracked frequently by social media sites, then consider installing site blocking software that will prevent you from accessing such content (or at least set a daily time limit on it).
Taking regular breaks while working is one of the easiest ways to ensure you keep your productivity high, which in turn makes managing your time a breeze. A well-timed break will restore your energy and focus for a particular task, and let you plan out the work ahead of you. It is foolish to think that you can power through a big task or project in one go without taking breaks – this will only lead to further lost time.
Virtually every task or duty you could ever hope to perform can be broken down into a series of smaller steps. Even something as basic as brushing your teeth before bed can be transformed into different actions, such as applying the toothpaste to the brush, performing the brushing motion, and rinsing out your mouth. If there is a particular task you are procrastinating hard on (and it is throwing out your time management feng shui) then try to visualize it as a series of smaller, more manageable components. This will do wonders for your ability to get things done in time.
All of us are our most productive at different times of the day. For example, I work best later at night; often from the hours of 9pm until midnight. However, you might be at your most productive in the morning, and slow down significantly in the afternoon. If you work a job where there is a possibility of flexibility with regards to hours, then consider asking if it is possible to shift the bulk of your work to a more productive time slot. You can sell this to your manager on the basis of you being able to complete more work in less time – a win-win scenario.
No matter what work it is you do on a daily basis, there is bound to be at least one way (if not multiple techniques) to improve your efficiency at doing it. For example, if you work a lot with computers and word processing, then learning how to touch type could result in you completing your work a lot faster, which in turn cuts down the risk of falling behind and throwing your time management out of sync. If you’re a student, then coming up with a method of studying that allows you to learn more in less time – such as the use of flash cards – is another example of improving the efficiency of your work.
Even if you give a 110% effort, there will be occasions when you simply cannot get everything done that you wanted in any given time frame. Don’t let these unavoidable limitations deplete your drive and determination, which will in turn make it harder to manage your time effectively. Accept that there are limits to your productivity, efficiency, and ability to manage your time – and many of these limits are simply beyond your control.
Deploy these time management strategies in your daily routine and enjoy significantly enhanced productivity. In turn, this will result in you feeling more confident and happy about yourself. You have the power to manage your time properly, and now you have a toolkit of useful resources to ensure the job gets done.
James Frankton blogs about time management, personal development, and motivational strategies at his site “Why Am I Lazy?” Having struggled for years with procrastination and low motivation, he now spends his spare time teaching others how they can overcome similar problems.
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