24 hours never seem enough to take care of everything that’s important in your life. You have to go to work, fulfil your professional obligations, take care of your family, enjoy your hobbies, relax and so on but who has time for all that these days? The answer is simple – people who know how to manage their time. They are the ones who manage to squeeze all that and more within the hours of the day because of self-discipline, the ability to prioritize and recognizing the need for efficient self-care.
At the end of the day, time management is all about managing yourself. You can’t manage time, after all. The seconds, minutes, days and years – they come and they go and that will never change. What you do with that time is up to you. You have full control over where and how you spend (or waste) your time. If you don’t know how to control your schedule, you will end up with nothing but stress and tons of unfinished work.
Many people struggle with time management and find it difficult to apply any time management techniques to their daily lives. Whether you are a master of productivity or find it immensely hard to manage your daily schedule, you have to constantly try to improve your time management skills. Fortunately for you, there are plenty of tips and tricks all over the Internet that will help you on your way to eliminating time-wasting activities. All you have to do is go through them, find what will potentially work for you and go for it.
The following article will present you with 10 proven time management techniques which you can easily integrate into your daily schedule. Let’s go!
One of the most important time management techniques is learning how to prioritize your work. No tasks are all equal. Some are urgent while others can be postponed for tomorrow. Remember – when everything is a priority, nothing is.
If you’re wondering how to prioritize your tasks, use The Eisenhower Matrix. According to it, tasks go into 4 quadrants:
- Urgent and Important
- Not-Urgent and Important
- Urgent and Not-Important
- Not-Urgent and Not-Important
✔️ Learn to say No
The importance of teamwork at the workplace is unquestionable. It’s great to be a team player and collaborate with your colleagues or help them solve problems. However, you also have to learn how to say no if you can’t handle their request at the moment. If they keep asking for help and you keep agreeing to take on the task, you won’t be able to fulfil your goals in time. Ultimately, you will have to sacrifice your deadline for theirs, which can result in high levels of stress and workplace burnout.
The same goes with meetings. Team meetings, if done efficiently, are a great source of inspiration, idea-sharing and team-bonding. However, most team meetings end up being a total waste of time. If you have something important to do and you feel like the type of meeting you’ve been invited to is not absolutely essential for your current tasks and goals, politely decline and ask the manager or team leader to send you the meeting minutes instead.
✔️ Start With the Most Difficult Task at Hand
This is one of the most popular time management techniques. As Brian Tracey said in his book – “eat the frog.” If you start your working day with the most difficult and irritating task at hand, once you’re done with it you will inevitably feel satisfied knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you throughout the day.
The most difficult tasks are the ones that we always save for last. However, procrastination won’t really help you with time management or fulfilling your goals.
✔️ The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is one of the simplest time management techniques. It follows the principle that the brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Switching between tasks is damaging productivity and producing unsatisfactory results.
The Pomodoro Technique forces you to single-task. It’s a simple, yet so effective time management technique. Turn off distractions and set a timer for 30 minutes. During that time you can work on only one single task. 30 minutes doesn’t sound like a lot but it’s 30 minutes of uninterrupted work which can sometimes produce better results than 2 hours of switching between two or more tasks.
The idea behind this technique is to create a sense of urgency. Instead of thinking that you have all day long to complete your tasks, your brain is tricked into thinking that you have only 30 minutes to make as much progress as you can.
✔️ Social Media Pause
Let’s be real about something – half on hour full-on focus is definitely more productive than 2 hours switching between tasks, YouTube, Facebook, email and social media as a whole.
To save time and deal with the task as fast and productive as possible, turn off all notifications on your profile and computer. Log out of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can check your social profiles during break time.
If you think self-care is not directly related to how well you manage your time, think again.
If you’re stressed and don’t pay attention to your body, diet and overall well-being (both mental and physical), you won’t perform well at work. Tasks will take longer than expected and your work productivity will drop significantly.
A good night’s sleep, a healthy meal and a good exercise will give you energy, focus and strength to make the most out of your day. Remember that work is never more important than your health. If your body doesn’t feel good, you can’t work, you can’t meet those deadlines or do much of anything else.
Don’t skimp on taking care of yourself.
✔️ Automate Tasks
If you have to do the same tasks every day (or week) over and over again, you have to learn how to automate them. If not, you’re wasting your valuable time. After all, working smarter, not harder is a core principle of time management. You can automate so many of your daily tasks and responsibilities without even knowing. For instance, you can proofread your emails and writing, using Grammarly, set reminders on Google Calendars so that you never forget anything, use a social media post scheduler app, create templates for tasks and meetings for the upcoming week. These are just a few of the examples.
✔️ Plan Your Day Ahead of Time
One of the best ways to improve your time management skills is to plan your day ahead of time. Knowing in advance how are you going to use your time today will reduce chaos, provide direction and eliminate any unwanted surprises.
In addition, this time management technique will prepare you mentally for the challenges ahead and leave you no room for procrastination. You will work faster and smoother.
Plan your day the previous night or first thing in the morning. Write down everything you have to do for the day and stick to it. There are many daily planner apps that can help you with that as well.
✔️ Find Your Productivity Times
Energy levels will definitely affect your productivity. Therefore, you should do your best to schedule critical tasks according to your peak productivity times. Are you most productive in the morning or afternoon? If you’re a morning person, do the most urgent and crucial tasks then.
After lunch, for instance, our energy levels crash significantly. This is a great time to check your email, clean up our desk, update spreadsheets or other similar tasks.
If you can’t determine when you have the most energy, rate your energy levels from 1-10 every hour for a couple of weeks. Eventually, you will be able to find a pattern. Keep in mind that energy levels also vary by day of the week. For example, you should avoid scheduling important meetings or conducting game-changing business presentations on a Friday as this is the least productive day of the week.
👉 Check out these 10 ground rules on how to be productive at work.
Do you know how much time it actually takes you to complete a specific task? Most of us can guess but our guesses are usually way off. That’s when time tracking comes in handy as one of the most important time management techniques.
Time tracking is a way of knowing how much time we spend on each task. It helps us measure working time, as well. You can easily keep track of your working time by writing down manually on a spreadsheet what you did in the past hour, for example.
If you’re still fighting with procrastination, laziness and lack of motivation, there is definitely something you can do about it. Time is all we have till we don’t have it. Try using the above time management techniques to change your professional, as well as personal life for the better. Track your time and progress to understand what works for you and what doesn’t.
Maybe you use other time management techniques that are not on this list. Share your tricks and tell us what’s your favorite time management technique.