Time is limited, once it has gone, never can be recovered, use it wisely.
Managing your time effectively is very important as it leads to efficiency and productivity. It also reduces the stress and load by procrastination, gives more success in life.
Good time management techniques doesn’t mean squeezing yourself into as many tasks as you can’t afford to do into your day. It’s all about simplifying your tasks, getting things done faster and smoother. By applying it, you can spend this time in resting, playing and exploring new things. Work smarter rather than harder.
We all have 24 hours each day. Time is un-storable but you can just save it and utilize it in a better way. Only you can decide how to allocate it, whether to utilize on the activities of higher value or spend it on the activities of low value.
Write your own time management rulebook, you will discover that there is enough time in a day for everything you would like to do. It just takes a bit of re-managing and re-imagining to utilize in a better way.
1. Organize work according to your energy levels
Estimate your high productivity hours and use them in applying your maximum efforts on heavy task works. And in your low productivity hours, do work which doesn’t demand high attention and efforts like – checking emails, responding to the requests and reviewing the documents.
“Productivity is directly proportional to your energy level”.
As morning time is the most productive time of the day with full energy and aspirations. You can do your most critical work which is a tough task for you. Doing it, you feel burdenless and can easily focus on your easy tasks later in the afternoon.
Plan your work around your time requirement and energy levels, schedule the critical work for highest productivity times.
You should also know your energy levels by day: Tuesday seems to be the most productive day for most people, but find your own patterns. Here how Jeremiah Dillon, head of product marketing for Google Apps for Work, organizes his week around his energy levels:
Map your work and energy levels in a spreadsheet for a couple of weeks until you uncover your productivity patterns.
2. Don’t focus much on perfection
As we have heard “Practice makes a man perfect”. Perfectionism keeps you stuck to a single work, won’t let you progress. Focus on the progress rather than perfection.
Whenever you start to accomplish a new tough goal, you put extra efforts in the perfection. That might take your excessive time and energy that makes you unable to maintain the quantity.
Yes you may start off with enthusiasm and determination. You might be highly motivated, ready to do it in a different way and confident it will go perfectly. But as time goes on, you confront reality, and your goal starts to feel harder and harder to reach. And it will consume all your high productivity energy. You will be so exhausted to start a new work after the completion of it.
You struggle as much as you try to recapture the energy and excitement that was when you started the work. When you can’t achieve it, you feel yourself that the battle has been lost. The glory you wanted to achieve has remained a hope— a panic reminder of what could have achieve.
Mark Twain says that, “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection”.
3. Avoid Procrastination
Procrastination is not only a human problem. Newton’s First Law of Motion, law of inertia, describes that a body at rest will stay at rest until it is compelled to do otherwise. Is it appropriate to say it? The entire universe procrastinates.
Procrastination has many faces of its implementations. Sometimes it is simply chosen pleasure over discipline. Sometimes it is an effort to avoid something negative or tasky. And sometimes it is getting paralyzed by overwhelming expectations by core day dreaming.
In the end what we get is kicked up ourselves. We regret for the time wasted in setting deadlines approach, time runs out, and opportunity slips through our fingers.
If you are determined to stop procrastinating, look at the big picture, accept it is okay to be perplexed and confused at the beginning. Remember your ability goes beyond your achievements and most importantly, know yourself. Work with your tendency not to procrastinate, not as you wish it to do.
How can you overcome procrastination?
- If it can be done in estimated minutes, just do it.
- Don’t add it to your to-do list or delegate to someone else. Just do it now.
- If it takes more than estimated minutes, start it now. Once you start working on small tasks, you can keep the ball rolling continuously.
- Simply working for two minutes will help you break the first barrier of procrastination.
4. Plan your day the night before
Simple planning of your day, a night before saves your lot of energy and time. Thus, you can start your day with a pre-defined planning and enthusiasm as well. Before going bed spend 5-10 minutes writing your to-do list for the upcoming day. These tasks will definitely help you to get close to your professional and personal goals.
By planning forward the night before, you would be better prepared psychologically for the challenges ahead. When you will wake up, there won’t be any room for procrastination in your mind. Thus, you will able to work faster and smoother than ever before.
5. Start your day with critical work
Let’s take an example,
If you have to eat a grape and a melon, first eat melon. It will make you feel that heavy task has completed and just a small easy task is remaining.
Same thing works here, your priority should be heavy task in your to-do list.
This is a golden technique of time management: Find your most critical and important task for the day and tackle it first. It will create the most impact on your work. Having it done gives you the sense of accomplishment early in the day. Doing such small efforts will get you achieve the big achievements.
6. Prioritize your tasks
If you know how to prioritize your work, it will affect the success of your project. The involvement of your team and your role as a leader will get ease. All projects, especially large, heavy and complex projects need clear priorities. It is easier to be said than done. You can count on technical projects, no matter how well-planned they are. To involve change orders, re-prioritization and the regular appearance of surprises is required.
How to prioritize your tasks?
- Collect a sequential list of your all tasks.
- Identify urgent v/s important.
- Asses the value of them.
- Order tasks by estimated efforts.
- Be adaptable and flexible.
- Know when to stop.
7. Don’t focus much on perfection
We all are familiar with creating a to-do list, a priority list to increase our productivity. Another most important list which can boost our productivity is the not-do list – these are the things that we shouldn’t do. If you are conscious of what to avoid, you will automatically channel your energy into things that you want to do and should do. Doing both hand in hand will maximize your performance to another level.
How you can take your productivity to the next level?
- Trying to do everything
- Answering all emails (or calls and messages for that matter)
- Thinking you have to do everything immediately
- Putting important tasks off
- Trying to get things perfect the first time round
- Being hung up over details
- Not having clear goals
- Not taking breaks
- Trying to please everyone
8. Batch up similar tasks
The task batching is a time management system. The main idea behind this time management technique is to collect up a group of similar activities according to efforts and time required and do them all in one scoop. It will maximize creativity, concentration, ability, productivity and mental sharpness while minimizes distraction, depression, stress, and fatigue.
Can I have your attention?
- Pull out your to-do list. (If you already haven’t it, just get it together.)
- Group similar tasks logically by their function and time taken to accomplish.
- Split your day into worth segments and assign each task category a dedicated deadline of time.
9. Involve delegate or outsource tasks
Some time it seems that no matter how hard we try to grab our tasks, but we can’t get ahead of our schedules. There are always such tasks that don’t get completed in the scheduled time. Such as calls that don’t get made, emails that don’t get answered. Delegate or outsource urgent but not important tasks to multiply your outcomes and keep yourself focused on the most important work.
There are 2 solutions for mastering time management that many entrepreneurs resist:
Areas where these are applied are:
- Financial management/accounting/book keeping
- Social media management, with platform-specific expertise
- IT management
- Web development and maintenance
- HR management
How to apply them?
- Identify the tasks and deliverables clearly.
- Determine whom you will delegate the tasks.
- Ensure that you are not asking them to take on additional responsibilities that do not align with their capability, strengths, talents, or readiness.
- Those employees must be able to manage themselves before taking on the responsibility of managing others.
- Create an effective management plan for the person assigned to these tasks.
- When you delegate tasks, don’t release responsibility or ownership of that task.
10. Automate repetitive tasks
Technology has finally reached a point where we can automate our almost every daily operations. By automating a few of your tasks, you save several hours per week. So, you can then use that precious time for deep and extra work or taking breaks. Putting some of your daily tasks on autopilot is the key to work smarter.
Take technological help to automate your daily repetitive tasks and use the newfound time to perform deep work or rest
Here is a list of couple of tasks and tools, that you can automate in under 10 minutes:
- Create scanned responses in Gmail canned for emails you keep writing over and over again.
- Set reminders on Google Calendar so you will never forget anything anytime.
- Proofread your writings automatically using Grammarly in google.
- Use Buffer to schedule and automate your social media posts in advance.
- Automatically fill online forms using LastPass, saving all your passwords in one place.
- Create spreadsheet templates for reports you have to do weekly or monthly.
11. Set time deadline
Creating a time deadline makes you more responsive to your work. You will become more productive when you allocate a specific time deadline to complete a specific task. It is a very helpful tool to accomplish your tasks on time.
So, if you allocate the time you have to complete a task within estimated time. You WILL force your brain to focus and complete it. And as a result, it will remove burden of time delay from your head. Set deadlines even when you don’t need to do. Scheduling less time to complete tasks and force your brain to focus and increases the efficiency.
Here’s an example:
Let’s go to our school days. How frequently we could learn if the exam was on a small time gape. Our brain used to work 100 times more effectively.
12. Don’t focus much on perfection
Distractions is the biggest hurdle in your way to success. It hurts your productivity and focus. In a study found that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task after getting distracted unintentionally.
The only secret behind the success of many successful entrepreneurs is that they don’t get distracted anyhow from their work. The goal is always revolving in their mind and keeps them stuck to their productivity work.
How not to get distracted?
- Turn off all notifications on your phone, computer, and tablets.
- Leave your phone in odd and rare places that prevent you from immediately finding it.
- Work with headphones as people are less likely to approach you with a non-urgent question or gossip if you look plugged in and on-task. Or you can avoid the unwanted noise.
- If you find interesting articles, save them to Pocket to read later.
- The internet is a distracting place. Turn-off your Wi-Fi or phone data when your tasks don’t require internet connectivity.
- Don’t browse social media when you are at work at all. If you can’t resist, browse it for a couple of minutes. Take out of social media exactly what you really want.
- If you have an office, just shut the door.
13. Make quick decisions on less useful things
We make hundreds of small, medium, and big decisions every day, whether personal or professional. 97% of the decisions we make don’t matter. Success comes from identifying and focusing your energy on that 3% decisions.
Small decisions impact you for only a day, such as what to wear or where to eat, where to go and whom to meet. Medium impact your life for a month or a year, such as deciding to go back to school, purchase something expensive or rent a different room. In the long term, only very few decisions matter. Those are the big decisions, have an impact on life. They may include business and choosing life partner. They are worthy of serious pondering, discussion, investigation, investment, and decision making.
Invest your proper focus on big decisions and make small decisions quick calls on medium and small decisions.
When you have a decision to make, ask yourself the following three questions:
- How will I feel about this decision few minutes from now?
- How will I feel about it few months from now?
- And in few years from now?
14. Track your time
You must know how much time you should spend on each task. Many of us can guess, but our estimates are normally track off. A time-tracking app or program can help you take out the guesswork and provide real data on your productivity.
There are many apps that can help you to be on track by reminding you time to time.
RescueTime is a free app that tracks exactly how you spend time on the computer or mobile. It too much easy as once it is set and forget it and you will get a report at the end of the week breaking down your productivity. You can log in to check other metrics, such as time spent on each task.
Track your time to have real data on your work and uncover insights of how you can get improved your productivity.Time tracking is a very powerful time management technique. That will force you to take a hard look at progress of your work and how you can optimize it.
15. Say ‘NO’ more often than ‘yes’
According to the most of the CEOs and successful entrepreneurs, saying “no” is one of the most important time management techniques. Saying “yes” sometimes can be counterproductive, especially when you do agree to the things that don’t contribute to your work and goals. Your time is a limited resource and you shouldn’t let people set your agenda in life. Your time is more precious than idle life.
Quality wins over quantity every single day. Focus more on doing great quality work rather than mixing it up it through all.
According to the Warren Buffet, “The only difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”
But how will you know to which things you should say no? What if you are passing through a life-changing opportunity?
- Start by writing down your top twenty career goals.
- Once you have done, circle out the five most important to you.
- Then completely eliminate the other twenty goals from your list.
- Go ahead and cross them off that doesn’t contribute to your top 5 career goals.
This is the concept of saying ‘NO’.
16. Automate decisions
Make your brain be prepared to make a lot of decisions quickly and you end up upgrading your willpower and eliminating suffering from decision fatigue. As the day goes on, you will start making fewer smart decisions.
To avoid mental exhaustion, automate decision making to free yourself from cognitive burden and not depend absolutely on your self-discipline. Let the decision make the decision.
- Choose all your outfits for your week once a week and hang them in the sequential in order.
- Subscribe to a weekly delivery of fresh organic vegetables and fruits to your home.
- Pay onetime payment for your grocery.
- If you prefer running in the morning, already leave your running shoes near the bed.
- Pre-set all your electronic gadgets to go into sleep mode at a certain hour.
17. Single task at a time
Time management is not collecting overload of various tasks altogether at a time. Multitasking is a corporate myth. The human brain is designed to focus on one thing at a time. Frequently switching between different tasks can damage your work and productivity.
Develop the habit of single-tasking by practicing your brain to concentrate on one task and focus on one task only. You should move to the next only when one you have done.
18. Work from the calendar
Working from calendar instead of the to-do list, is a great time management technique. Use your calendar forces to rethink your work from tasks to time units. It works best when your goal of task accomplishment is lengthy one and takes many days or months.
The calendar is where you can estimate when you’re going to do those things and how much time they need to be completed.
Calendar apps are more helpful in this task management. They Project automatically and provides you with default calendar settings, in the format (Monday through Saturday, 9AM to 5PM), those defaults might be the right fit for your projects.
Plan and schedule your calendar ahead of time to avoid distractions and wastage of time. Be incharge of your time.
19. Break down big tasks
An urging task is a task that is so well written that you almost can’t resist yourself doing it.
One key feature of any urging task is that the task will take you no longer than 1 hour to complete it! And if you struggle with procrastination or staying focused for long periods of time, it would loosen your craze to complete it. Your maximum task length should be smaller and still closer to 30min only.
Yes this sounds quite easy theoretically. But many people struggle with creating small tasks practically.
If you a have huge task in your to-do and are wondering how to make tiny bite-sized tasks from it, this guide is only for you!
How to break down big tasks?
- List out the steps.
- Break a large project into small milestones.
- Break multi-step tasks into single-step comprehensive tasks.
- Break long stretches of work into smaller sessions.
20. Take time off to recharge
Am I not wrong? Have you ever returned to the office feeling sluggish, energyless and frazzled – more in need of another break than ready to tackle the newest challenge?
Including all, similarly as a machine or electrical gadget, we also need a recharge of energy. We often count the hours until we finally get a stretch of free time and able to make it a relaxing day. Unfortunately, many days off we often fail to live up to our expectations.
How can you get a recharge?
- Schedule breaks and events throughout your day to help you recharge.
- Take required vacations within a month throughout the year.
- Rest is the best medicine to sustain long-term productivity.
Work is the way of living life with contentment. Work can and should be fun. It is fun that carries motivation, spirituality, passion, creativity, and productivity. If you cheat your work then no time management technique in the world can ever help you.
Being loyal to your work, you attract happiness without mentioning the amount of time you spend working.