The aim of good time management is that it enables you to work smarter, not harder so that you get more done in less time, even when time is limited and you are under pressure
Everyone should understand the value of time if they are to succeed in life. As it is rightly said, “Time and Tide wait for none”. It doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are, your time is the same.
The key is to remember that it’s not about how much time you have, but how effectively you manage it.
Time management is the ability to use your time productively and efficiently. Below are some of the main areas to focus on to achieve this.
At the start of the week or day, make a list of tasks. Categorize them in terms of importance. You can do this using the quadrant time management system designed by Stephen R Covey. In his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“, Covey states the importance of breaking down tasks into four categories:
1 – Urgent things that are also important.
2 -Important things that are not urgent.
3 – Urgent things that are not important.
4 -Things that are neither urgent nor important.
Covey suggests that we focus on category 2 as these are the things that will ultimately determine how our life pans out.
For this reason, it is key to learn the difference between tasks that need your immediate attention and those unimportant tasks.
Once you know where to put your energy, you will start to get things done in an order that works for you and your schedule.
Prioritizing your tasks daily will keep you focused and aid productivity.
Many of us loathe the idea of delegation, believing we can do something better than anyone else. We tend to take on more tasks than we can manage which often leads to stress and burnout.
Delegation does not mean you are avoiding your responsibilities. Instead, it is about learning how to properly manage your tasks. There will be many tasks that do not require your direct attention and that do not warrant your time and energy. These tasks can be delegated to a member of your team so that you can focus on the more important, income-producing activities within the business.
3.) Goal setting
Goals give your life and the way you spend your time, direction. They give you a purpose and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. They also help you to decide which tasks are urgent and not urgent and which you should prioritize first to reach those goals. It is important to set goals that are specific, measurable, realistic and achievable.
Most of us feel that multitasking is an efficient way of getting things done, but studies show that we actually perform better when we focus and concentrate on only one thing at a time.
“Deep work“, as it is referred to by Professor Cal Newport, is any professional activity carried out in a distraction-free state, which allows an individual to use his cognitive capabilities to the maximum. The opposite of this is “shallow work”; tasks carried out while distracted.
When we attempt to multitask, we are distracted. The reason for this is attention residue. In his book, Newport states that switching from one task to another means we are constantly working in a semi distractive state. While it may appear that you have completed Task A and moved on to Task B, your 100% attention does not automatically switch to this new task, some of your attention will remain at Task A. This is attention residue. It is counterproductive and makes it difficult to focus on the high-level intensity needed to work efficiently.
In short, multitasking hampers productivity and should be avoided to improve time management skills. If you truly want to work more efficiently, you need to fight off distractions and learn to concentrate and complete one task a time.
For more information on how to eliminate distractions and focus on only the task in hand, I would recommend reading the full book by Cal Newport. Check it out here.
5.) Get up early
Most successful people have one thing in common, they all get up early. It gives them a head start ahead to sit, think, and plan their day while the rest of the world sleeps. There are no distractions in the morning and you are calmer, more creative, and clear-headed.
Getting up early aids productivity and kick starts your day. It also gives a sense of accomplishment knowing that you have achieved so much before noon!
It takes time to get into the routine of waking up earlier, especially, if like me you are not a morning person but there are so many benefits to becoming an early riser.
Start by getting up just thirty minutes earlier every morning and then gradually extending it as you see fit. You’ll be amazed by how much more productive you are!
If you need a helping hand to get started, I would highly recommend “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod. This is a great book to help you become part of the top 5% who truly understand the benefits of rising early. This book caters to those with even the tightest schedule by providing you with a super quick six-minute Miracle Morning geared to start your day, the right way!
Carry a planner or notebook with you to list all the tasks that come to your mind. If you don’t like the ‘old school’ way of jotting down your to-do’s, then you can use the notes section on your smartphone or use one of the many project management apps now available online. Personally, I love Trello!
Being able to check off items as you complete them will give you a sense of accomplishment and keep you motivated. Sundays are a great day to plan the week ahead and schedule both weekly and daily to-do’s. Make a simple to-do list and look at it each morning, prioritize the tasks, and focus on the essentials.
To better manage your time management skills, categorize your to-do’s into three main areas: work, home and personal.
Schedules and prioritizing tasks are a great way to manage your time but without deadlines, you are more likely to slack off and not reach your goals on time. Set realistic deadlines, that are attainable and stick to them. Don’t forget to reward yourself for your achievements!
This may be the last on the list, but it is one of the most important! One of the biggest ways to waste time is by being unorganised. Searching for paperwork or important documents not only wastes time but it kills motivation and productivity! Keep your workstation clean with all documents filed away and labelled so you can easily access them whenever you need. Use project management apps or a scheduler to keep all your information at hand and in the one place.
The key to effective time management is to be focused and to not misuse time. Try using the above strategies to sharpen your time management skills and increase your day to day productivity.
“Time isn’t the main thing, it’s the only thing!” – Miles Davis