17 Ways to Easily Master Time Management
Ever hear yourself say..."Where did the time go?!" or "I wanted to do it, but I didn't have enough time"?
Which turns into... "I'll do it tomorrow."
Right after that you curse or you kick something in frustration! You just had to put off that one thing that you've been trying to do for the longest time...again! Then you make yourself promise that you'll get that task done tomorrow. You even try to schedule it into your day by setting a reminder on your phone and in your work calendar. You even put off doing something that you actually wanted to do just for this one thing that you still haven't done yet. Sound familiar?
It's an endless cycle. Why? Because tomorrow comes and time will slip through your fingers once again. Then you ask yourself..."where did the time go?!" And repeat.
Time is elusive and tricky. Time itself can't be mastered, but we can certainly learn how to master time management.
Grab a hold of your day and own it! Here's how you can.
1. Keep Track of Time
You can't master time management if you don't actually know the time. Make sure that you remain mindful of the time throughout the day. This not only ensures that you do not pass any deadlines, it also ensures that you are staying on track with all of the tasks that you have to complete.
I'm not saying that you should obsess over the clock! Please don't. That may cause you more stress than anything, right?
I push this on my blog quite often, but organization is amazing! It brings so much clarity and simplifies things. A lot! Organization is a key item to help you master time management. It actually involves two things: (1) organization of your tasks and (2) organization of your space.
Organize Your Space
Let's talk about organization of your space for a second. I don't know about you, but I am a bit of a stickler about my work space. I am not completely organized to the point that everything remains absolutely clean and spotless, however, I know where everything is. If your space isn't organized, you run the risk of spending time looking for the items that you need. Spending time like that means you're actually wasting time.
I make sure that my desk and office has items labeled and placed where they should be. I can find what I need and so can my co-workers if they are looking around my desk or office. Make things easier on yourself and keep your items organized and in places that are easy to find. I can't tell you how many times I have had to look for documents on the fly. Knowing exactly where they are and being able to direct someone else to that spot in a matter of seconds is great and provides a sense of confidence, security, and reliability.
Organize your tasks
Figure out all of the tasks that you have to complete for the day. Once you do, try to determine if any of those tasks are closely related to each other. If they are, group them together and do them one after the other. For instance, my job requires that I speak with my clients regularly. If I know that I have to call a couple of my clients, I could go into work and take care of those telephone calls all around the same time. Instead of talking on the phone and then getting up and doing something else before getting back on the phone again, I could simply make those phone calls one after the other. That actually saves me some time and allows me some relief in knowing that all of my phone calls are taken care of for the day.
Of course, life isn't perfect and you may have to take care of something else before or after your call. Go with the flow of your day, but if you can, batch your tasks and complete like tasks around the same time.
Give yourself structure by planning and scheduling your day. Just with organization, planning your day allows you the chance to know exactly what you'll be getting into. The more you know, the more you will figure out the time you need for each task and create a schedule accordingly.
Related Post: 9 Reasons Why You Are Not Achieving Your Goals
Ah yes, priority. Another word that I like to mention on my blog. I don't always like to say that one thing is more important than another, but sometimes you have to. Especially, when you are pressed for time. If you have tasks that are not time sensitive or are not important at the moment, put them to the side and focus on the things that matter right now. Don't distract yourself with minor things if they can wait. You're just wasting time, which I'll talk about in a second.
5. Get the job done
I have a confession to make. There are moments when I lollygag around. (Lollygag is such a funny looking word, right?) I think we've all done it once or twice...or maybe more than that. Instead of finishing a task, I linger around little. Mostly because I get lazy or tired even (happens mostly when I skip taking a break). Not finishing that task is a problem now and will continue to cause me problems in the future until it's completed.
What's the problem?
Well simple. I wasted time. Because of that I can't move on to something new because what I was doing is not complete! Now I have to waste more time finishing up something today that I could have easily finished yesterday. It's crazy! Why do we do this to ourselves?
Take the time and get the job done. If you can finish it now, then do it. If it's going to take another five minutes, take that time if you can. Don't leave things opened if you can avoid it.
Related Post: MY SUPER EFFECTIVE METHODS FOR BEATING THE MONDAY BLUES
6. Avoid multitasking if you're not good at it
I mean, one day you will have to learn how to do it. With everything going on during your day-to-day, it's practically unavoidable. People say that we have all the time in the world, but sometimes we actually don't. Those darn deadlines right?! Multi-tasking is very helpful during those moments. But only if you can keep track of everything that you are doing and get them all done within a reasonable amount of time.
If you're not good at juggling multiple tasks at once, then don't do it. You're just distracting yourself and causing a problem. Focus on one task at a time and get it done. Once you do, move on to the next one. Simplifying your life is very helpful in mastering time management and will get you to finish your assignments sooner than you think.
7. Don't procrastinate
Raise your hand if you're a master procrastinator. I'm raising my hand. I'm not perfect. I have no shame! I can procrastinate until the cows come home. What can I say? I like causing myself problems. Working under pressure is my thing!
Okay, that's just an excuse. I kick myself every time I procrastinate and continue to wonder why I do it to myself. But, I digress.
This is a classic, "do as I say, not as I do" moment. Don't procrastinate. It doesn't help anyone, especially if your time is already limited. Procrastinating means having to rush to complete an assignment, which means more stress and anxiety, sleepless nights...you get the picture. Just don't do it. (I'm mostly talking to myself here. I'm really working on this one. Procrastination sucks!)
8. Avoid things that waste your time.
This one just speaks for itself. Really. Wasting time is practically the opposite of time management! You're not managing time if you're walking around wasting it. That's like wanting to save money while you're out spending all of it.
If you want to get better at time management, figure out all of the things that distract you and cause you to waste time. Yes, I am talking about your phone, social media, Pinterest (even though I am obsessed), or anything else that will easily distract you. It could be a person too! If you have a coworker or someone around you that you know will cause you to lose focus, minimize the time that you spend around that person.
Cut the distractions and maximize your time.
9. Give yourself more time (aka wake up earlier!)
Alright. I have another confession. I'm not really a morning person. I have to eat breakfast first, then we can talk! Mornings are really not my thing unless I sleep in. Even with my morning practices, my ability to function in the morning is different from my ability to function in the afternoon and evening. When I say different, I mean it's lower. Much lower.
Hey! I know my limits!
That being said, if I have a lot going on, then I will make it a point to wake up earlier so I can have more time to finish what I need to. The job may not exactly be super perfect, but with the extra time, I can make sure that it is as close to perfect as I can possibly get it.
Waking up earlier, although dreadful for some, can be a blessing if you are pressed for time. Plus, doing this step when you don't want to really shows how much you want to master time management. You look so responsible, which is a nice confidence booster!
I have developed simple morning practices which have improved my productivity exponentially! You should definitely check them out if you are a zombie in the morning like me!
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10. Set your own deadlines
I love this tip here. It’s actually my favorite thing to do partly because I love challenging myself. If you have a deadline on an assignment or an important date coming up, try to set yourself an earlier deadline than the one you already have. This pushes you to get the work done sooner while leaving you some wiggle room if something comes up (because things always come up, right?)
11. Learn to say “No”.
Time management not only requires discipline, it requires the responsibility of knowing when you can't take on anymore work. If your plate is full, don’t let someone pile more food on top because you’re going to waste it. That extra food going in the garbage isn’t doing anyone any good.
Just the same, if you’re busy, you’re busy. Say "no, thank you" if someone asks you to do something. It’s okay. No one expects you to take on the world, so don’t force yourself to.
12. Do the hard tasks first
Ever heard the phrase "eat that frog"? It sounds quite disgusting, but it basically means that you should do that one thing that you don't want to do. These are usually the hard or bigger tasks of our day. Despite what you may think, getting these tasks out of the way first actually helps you. A lot! Believe it or not, once you’re done, you actually have more time to finish the little things.
Plus that feeling of relief is amazing right?! So eat that frog!! (Not literally though)
13. Set time limits for yourself
This is similar to giving yourself a deadline. Instead, when you set a time limit, you're just limiting the time that you will be working on a task for today. In my opinion, this is literally the epitome of time management. You are actually managing your time with this step.
If it's an assignment that is not time sensitive, break it up into increments, if you can. Otherwise, if you have multiple things that need to get done, give yourself an allotted amount of time to complete something. Do this within reason!
14. Be realistic about the time you have
Don’t try to fit everything into one day if it can’t be done. Be honest about the time you actually have and plan your day accordingly. If something is going to take you a half hour, don't tell yourself that you can get it done in half the time. You'll just make things worse for yourself. You've now just given yourself half the time to do something. This means more stress, rushing, and the risk of low quality work. Which, in turn, means that you may have to re-do what you've just done.
Give yourself all the time that you can and that you need to finish your work. Your boss or employees will thank you for it. Most importantly, you'll thank yourself for it.
Time management requires delegation. Sometimes you just have to do it. It doesn't make you a bad person either. If you have a lot going on, you are more responsible if you recognize it and ask someone to help you. Ask nicely though! Please!
I wasn't always comfortable with delegation. When I first started my job, I actually refused to do it. I'm too kind-hearted and felt that I shouldn't bother someone else to do something that I could just do myself. For a time, that actually worked out. Until I began getting swamped with work. I mean, the assignments and cases were piling up!! Then, and only then, did I realize why I needed an assistant. And I began delegating. The relief that I felt was great!
Delegate some work if you can. Allow someone else to help you. You'll save time and will be able to focus on the more time-sensitive or bigger tasks at hand.
16. Take a Break
Okay, I may have just confused you. Just a minute ago I told you to finish your tasks, don't procrastinate, get the work done, etc. But now I'm telling you to stop working? What? You may wonder why you would want to stop working if you are trying to master time management. How is a break supposed to help you? In a prior post, I explained that doing less could actually boost your productivity! That includes taking breaks.
Taking breaks gives your mind a minute or two to rest. This is actually good for you because it reduces the chances of a mental burn out. Pushing yourself and working on low fumes is not helpful. Give yourself a minute to breathe. Once you get back into the fray, you'll have more juice to get the job done.
Use this simple trick during your breaks to help you de-stress in a matter of minutes!
17. Work When You're the Most Productive
I wouldn't be me if I didn't mention productivity in a post, right? Learn when you are the most productive. Is it early in the morning when everyone is still sleeping? Or are you more of a night owl and prefer working as everyone is going to sleep?
I'm more of the latter. Like I mentioned, I can't really function in the morning. I would be lying if I always told myself that I was going to wake up early to get something done. That is completely untrue and a really good joke for me to laugh at. Instead, I feel as if I have access to my brain's full potential late at night. I'm actually writing this post pretty late at night. It's a superpower of mine. Blame it on law school, but I'm used to using my brain during the late hours of the night until the wee hours of the morning. Besides, I prefer knowing that everyone is going home and will not bother me until the next morning.
Because I know when I am most productive, I give myself the freedom to work during that time. I get more work done and within a good amount of time too! Do yourself the favor, and work when you are most productive. If you do, you will conquer time management in no time at all, pun intended!! (That was a terrible joke. Sorry.)
Using these simple tips ensures that you are effectively managing your time every day.