Time management can be a real struggle for a lot of us. If it were possible for someone to invent a way to add additional hours to the day, they would no doubt become an overnight billionaire. It seems like something that we ask for almost daily – more time. There is never enough time to get all the things done that we want or need to get done. It feels more like we are playing catch-up instead of getting ahead.
The days of sitting back and relaxing right before a deadline are scarce. The last thing going through our mind at the end of a long day is usually a to-do list. While we wait in vain on a magic pause button or 30-hour day, there are ways to manage the time that we do have more efficiently so that it at least feels like we have more time each day.
1. Time Management Prioritizing And Planning
The worst thing you can do is to throw yourself into your work or day with no plan. What this leads to is things “popping up” that you’ve forgotten about or getting so lost in what you are doing that you don’t move on from tasks in a timely manner. Prioritizing what needs to be done helps keep you on track and within deadlines. Once you map out appointments, meetings, and tasks that are required for the day or week then you can start adding in tasks by priority.
Having a solid plan also ensures that you don’t get caught feeling that you have more downtime than you actually do. Knowing what needs to be done and planning out time to get it done or allotting specified time before allowing yourself to move on to the next task will keep you on track. You can use any number of tools to help accomplish this task such as a paper or dry erase calendar, a mobile app reminder, or your email calendar.
2. Stop Procrastinating
Putting off things for another day when you have time to do them now leaves that inevitable due date feeling like a long and impossible day. Think about why you want to put something off and then reconsider. If something is only going to take you a few minutes get it done and mark it off your list. If the project seems overwhelming and leaves you hesitant to tackle it; break the project down into smaller tasks or schedule shorter amounts of time to work on it. Allowing yourself to come back to your work and break it up over time will keep you from feeling burned out and may even give you the perspective you need to do an even better job than you would have had you completed it all at once.
3. Don’t Overextend Yourself
A common mistake of poor time management is simply not accounting for personal limitation or allowing time for life to happen. It is not possible to consistently schedule yourself extremely long work days and tight schedules without there eventually being a breaking point. A breaking point that may end up putting you further behind than you’d ever imagined. The more you overextend yourself the more tired and frustrated you will be. Your work will suffer and the effect will trickle down from there.
It’s best to be generous when scheduling your time and also schedule time for breaks. Allowing yourself more time than you need to get things done can help. Make it a rule of thumb that early is on time and on time is late. The result will be that you’ll find extra time here and there that you weren’t expecting. You’ll be able to use this time to get ahead or enjoy some downtime, and a printer malfunction or storm blocking your internet signal won’t seem like the end of the world.
4. Dig in
The root cause of your struggle with time management may be something that you don’t even realize. Often times we don’t realize how much time we are really putting into a specific task. Take some time to find out what you do all day. You may be surprised at where you are actually spending your time. Using a free site such as Toggl will allow you to time each task by starting and stopping as you work. At the end of your day or week, you can go in and view a summary of where your time was spent. This will identify problem areas and bring focus to the changes that you may need to make. After all, you can’t improve something if you aren’t aware of the issues.
It may be as simple as rearranging your schedule or you may realize that you could benefit from delegating some tasks that seem to occupy huge chunks of your time. The end result should be that you are able to identify where you spend your time, assess the value or hindrance, and organize your day to better manage your time.
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