People sometimes think time management is the same as being productive or busy.
We believe that in order to be successful, we have to constantly be on-the-go, cramming in working with childcare, exercising, cooking, socializing, and hobbies. Everyone has too much on their plate.
However, while time management can increase your productivity, it isn’t about constantly doing more.
It is about understanding the things you have to do, the things you want to do, and the amount of time everything takes. It's about managing your attention and focus so you can make the best use of your time.
It is vital to remember that time is finite. You only have a certain number of hours in the day to accomplish what you need to do.
Think of it like packing a car. Once the car is full, you can't put anything else in it. This is the same with your daily schedule. You can only fit in the things that are absolutely necessary to have.
It's valuable to see the concept of time in a different way so you can stop wasting time on things that are not helping you reach your ultimate goals.
27 of The Best Time Management Techniques Ever
Time Management Skills
1. Estimate Your Time
Become a good time estimator by asking exactly how long every task will take. Do this for every project, request, or interruption that comes up.
Use this information to decide what can fit into the amount of time you have. If something comes up that does not fit and isn't important, you can't do it.
2. Create a Time Map
A time map serves as an outline for your week. Take the 160 hours for the week and the 24 hours for each day and map it out, including your wake-up time and bedtime.
The hours in between are the space you have available to fill up.
3. Set SMART Goals
Make goals that will allow you to measure your progress. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Sensitive.
Having SMART goals instead of vague hopes for the future will give you a greater chance of achieving them and will help you know exactly how long it will take to get there.
4. Learn to Say No
Don't hesitate to decline a request to do something that stands in the way of your ultimate goals.
People pleasing can be debilitating. However, using the word “no” is very liberating.
When you are able to recognize, “This task does not require my immediate attention,” or “This task is counterproductive, and I'm not doing it,” you are setting boundaries for yourself and others.
This same rule applies to any projects that you have decided are headed nowhere. Don't waste any more time than you already have.
5. Plan Ahead
One of the biggest mistakes with time management is starting your day with no clear idea of what needs to be accomplished.
The time you can spend planning ahead is small compared to the time you will lose going from one task to the next without really completing anything.
At the end of each day, put together a list of the things that must be done the next day. In the morning, prioritize your to-do list and get started.
6. Incorporate Short Breaks
To keep your momentum going, you have to take a breather every now and then.
If you are working hard on something, spend 25 minutes doing completely uninterrupted work and then take five minutes to get a glass of water or go to the restroom.
Use a timer so you don't distract yourself by watching the clock.
7. Don't Waste Time Waiting
Whether you are waiting for a bus or a dentist appointment, it's impossible to avoid these potential downtimes during the day.
However, you don't have to just twiddle your thumbs. Technology allows you to work wherever you are. Use this time to read a report, check a spreadsheet, or plan your next advertising strategy.
8. Avoid Trying to Multitask
Many believe that multitasking is an efficient method to get things done. The truth is, you will do better work when you focus on one thing at a time.
Often, when you try to multitask, you end up accomplishing a lot of nothing. Multitasking will impede your productivity and therefore should be avoided if you want to improve your time management.
9. Identify Your Ideal Time
Everyone has their time of day when they work the best. Schedule your difficult tasks for these times.
Also, have a list of important (but non-urgent) smaller tasks that can be completed in those odd ten or fifteen minutes between meetings.
This could be things like scheduling a doctor's appointment or replying to an email.
10. Make Fast Decisions About Things That Don't Matter
You make tons of decisions every day, and most of them won't matter in the long run. It is important to identify those decisions that will matter.
Small decisions like what you wear or eat only impact you for one day, while medium decisions such as applying to a new job may impact you for a year.
But in the long run, very few decisions will make a huge impact on your life. These decisions are worth spending time on, pondering, and researching.
11. Eliminate Distractions
Turn off your phone, shut your door, unplug your computer.
Do anything that you need to do to limit or eliminate distractions while you are trying to accomplish something.
12. Get Enough Sleep
Some people think that they can get by on a few hours of sleep in order to fit more work into the day and be more productive.
However, most people need about eight hours of sleep to function at an optimal level. Listen to your body and make sure you are getting enough sleep to be productive during your waking hours.
13. Don't Overwhelm Yourself With Your To-Do List
One of the best ways to overwhelm yourself is to ruminate on everything you need to do.
Realize that no amount of thought will make it any shorter. All you can do is focus on the one task in front of you and get through it one step at a time.
14. Use Your Weekends
It is important to tend to self-care and socializing on the weekends, but if you can take two to four hours over the weekend to lighten your workload during the week, it will make your week less chaotic.
15. Batch Related Tasks Together
Group your like-tasks together and do them consecutively.
Different tasks require different methods of thinking, so it will be easiest on your mind to continue to flow with your current thinking pattern instead of switching from one thing to another.
16. Stop Procrastinating
Everyone procrastinates at some point, but for some people, it’s a chronic issue that is a hindrance to success.
Look at the reasons behind your procrastination – Are you waiting for the right time? Underestimating the difficulty of the task? Have you developed a bad habit?
To break a habit, you must consistently act in new ways, so bite the bullet and get to work.
17. Maintain Healthy Habits
Healthy eating, stress reduction, and exercise will allow you to have the energy, focus, and stamina that you will need to make the most of your time.
Time Management Techniques at Work
18. Create a Workable Environment
Eliminate the clutter on your desk and keep what you need within reach.
Make sure you have a comfortable chair and your desk is at the correct height.
If outside noises tend to distract you, get a white noise machine or something that could drown noises out.
19. Assign Time Limits to Your Tasks
Your project will take as long as you allow it to take. If you say, “I will finish this in three hours” then you probably will.
Alternatively, if you say, “I will stay here and work on this project until it is finished” then it could take much longer.
Giving yourself a time constraint will force you to focus and work more efficiently.
20. Don't Get Hung Up on Minor Details
People have a tendency to let projects take much longer than necessary by getting hung up on minor details.
It is best to push past the need to look over everything you have done. Get the majority of your project completed and then revise things later.
21. Stay Organized
Do you waste a lot of time looking for old files or important emails you received last week on your computer?
Organize a file management system so you won't have to waste time going through your clutter. Organize yourself to the point where you can quickly find exactly what you need.
Related Post: How to Make Good Habits Stick
22. Remember the 4 D's: Delete, Delay, Diminish, and Delegate
Use these to organize tasks or your entire to-do list.
- Delete: Delete any project that isn't worthwhile.
- Delay: Put off anything that is not time-sensitive.
- Diminish: Take out unnecessary parts of a project or meeting.
- Delegate: Delegate anything on your to-do list that someone else has the time or capacity to take on.
23. Do Three Important Things Every Day
The key here is to pick only three tasks to commit to completing every day, no matter what.
This way, at the end of the day you will be able to say you accomplished important things instead of saying you did a lot of pretty meaningless tasks.
Because these tasks are your priority, do them first, before your day starts to get chaotic.
In fact, keep your top three tasks with you until they are complete so you will have an incentive to get them finished.
Completing your “important and urgent” tasks every day will give you with a sense of accomplishment and will motivate you to face the less essential items on your to-do list.
Related Post: Reach Your Personal Goals with These Power Habits
24. Follow the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 Rule claims that 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions.
Being aware of this rule will help you prioritize your time when considering your most important goals.
You may choose to focus more on the 20% of your activities that are contributing the most to your goals.
25. Check Your Email Twice a Day
Don't allow notifications to disrupt you while you are working. Check your email when you get to work, after lunch, and possibly at the end of the day.
Answer them accordingly, and then focus on your work. Most of the emails that pop up in your inbox are unnecessary or junk and aren't worth the disruption.
Further, many emails result in an email conversation with someone that could be completed much faster over the phone.
26. Figure Out Where You Are Wasting Time
Many people fall victim to time-suckers that steal critical hours that could be used much more productively. This could be internet surfing, social media, texting, personal phone calls…
Track your daily activities for a few days so you can see an accurate picture of how much time you are wasting on these types of activities. Eliminate whatever you find to be the main culprit.
27. Aim to Enjoy Your Work
People get so caught up in work that it is easy to forget to enjoy your chosen career.
If you are too focused on getting things done, consider what you can do to spend more time enjoying your work.
Arrange your commitments in a way that makes you happy to live out the details of your work.
Once you get a better grip on your time management, you will be able to be more productive without actually doing more.
Start with one or two of these techniques and incorporate more as you get used to the flow of things.
Chances are, you will be quick to use most of these techniques once you see how much you can get accomplished.