You’ve got so much to do and yet 24 hours in a day never seems to be enough. As much as you try to catch up your to-do list keeps getting longer and “checking that DONE box” rarely happens. If you want to do more with the hours you have available, these time management tips may be just the motivation and direction you need to get more done.
Make a List – Random scraps of paper or Post-It Notes stuck to your computer screen are not lists, they’re clutter. If you want to better manage your time, you need to do some planning. That means being able to review, in one place, all the things you need to get done. Whether your list is in a paper planner that you carry with you, captured in a note (e.g. notes, Evernote) on your phone, or well organized in a to-do app (e.g. Wunderlist, Any.do, ToDo) you’ll get more done when you have a complete list. The list should capture all of your to-do’s so that you can choose 3-5 things you want to accomplish each day rather than constantly reacting to the priorities of others.
Know YOUR Priorities – The definition of effective is that you’re successful in producing a desired or intended result. That means knowing what you want to accomplish so you can determine where it’s important to invest your time. If you’re not clear about your priorities, you’re likely to just pick and choose different tasks or respond to the first one presented to you (think email and how it appears to be important because it’s so pervasive). When you are doing something, occasionally stop and ask, “Is this the most important thing I can be doing right now?”. If it’s not, go back to your list and determine what would be a better use of your time.
Don’t Procrastinate – Besides broken promises and added stress, putting things off makes any task or project more complicated and time consuming. What began as a job that you could tackle piece by piece or step by step has grown into a monumental task with a looming deadline. When you delay a task, you may have to forgo other important personal or professional commitments because you kept putting off that one task. Instead of putting things off you need to do, just jump in and tackle the first step. Once you start, you may realize the task or project was not as difficult or as time consuming as you had imagined.
Make Time For Focus Time – Normal life can move at a very fast pace. Your mind may have trouble keeping up and you often feel stressed and overwhelmed. Take time to slow down so you can focus and perform tasks purposefully and efficiently. For maximum focus turn off all distractions, phone, text, IM, email alerts, etc., so you are not tempted to multi-task and can devote your time and energy to whatever you’re trying to accomplish. If you have trouble finding focus time, try the Pomodoro Technique which uses a timer to balance focus time and interactive time.
Set Boundaries – Busy people are often guilty of taking on too much. They have trouble saying “no”, and thus they have more on their plate then they can handle. Time management is not about “being busy” it’s about being productive. By having less on your plate you’ll be able to devote more intention and energy to what’s important. You’ll also get more done when you’re engaged in activities related to your goals and priorities versus slowly trudging through things that you don’t really want to do in the first place.
Photo Credit: Septober/David Butler