Do you ever feel like there are just not enough hours in a day and the time seems to be slipping through your fingers no matter how hard you try? That feeling you have at the end of the day, when there are still things to do but no time left to do them?
Unless you have a time machine you can’t get all the things done at proper time. For now we have no time machine so all you can do is manage your time in the best possible way. It is not as hard as it sounds. All it requires is self discipline and will power. Don’t underestimate your self control. You may surprise yourself.
#1 Don’t waste your important time
The most important advice I’d give you is not saving time but using it wisely.
Getting to work each day and doing a ton of different tasks isn’t that hard, unless you are working in a field that suffers longer periods of downtime. There is usually always something to do.
The important question to answer here is are you making an impact with your work? Not all the tasks you perform are equal. You might do two tasks taking the same amount of time but the first might be making a big difference while the other might be completely futile and meaningless. The time you can spend working is finite so make sure this important time is used as efficiently as possible.
Being busy is simple. You can perform tasks after tasks which are easy to you or which you enjoy or at least are less cumbersome. But what about the tasks which are supposed to be done and are more important than what you like to do? Do the tasks you perform make a difference?
Being productive is harder. It takes a whole lot of practice and even more discipline. But once you get it you will be able to use the time you have more efficiently.
Ask yourself what’s the single and most important task you have. What will make the biggest impact? And then do it.
Stop procrastinating and focus for a bit on what’s important. Once you deal with the biggest and the baddest tasks you are free to spend your time on the menial stuffs.
#2 Organize your work environment
Getting the important tasks done first is just a first step towards more efficient time management. The second is making sure you stay productive. It’s a tough challenge actually. It may be easy to get a task started and it only takes a second to lose your concentration.
Would you like to get longer periods of productivity instead or just short bursts? To get them, you need to work on creating the optimal working conditions. If you have the comfort of working alone, you’re already ahead. If you work in an open space, it’s a bit harder but it’s definitely possible. You need to remove all the distractions and dedicate 100% of your attention to the task at hand. This is specially important when doing creative work like writing.
If you don’t like to work in total silence, there is always music. If music distracts you, you can try white noise. It sounds silly but some people find the sound of a vacuum cleaner or static really helpful at shutting everything else and concentrate.
#3 Set deadline
Most of us are afraid of the word deadline. The word itself is panicky. But to be honest setting deadlines for yourself will save you a lot of time and make you more focused and productive.
When there is no set deadlines for any task, you perform it with your own speed and this, many a times, lead to dilly dallying.
For example, if you are ironing your clothes without a deadline to finish it you will do it with your own speed. You might give it unnecessary extra importance and take more time to finish it than rather needed. But if you do it setting a deadline say 10 minutes for each pair of clothing then you’ll be able to finish the task much earlier than otherwise. Being time bound results in speedy accomplishments. When you are following a deadline to meet, your brain subconsciously becomes more attentive. Just make a commitment to yourself that you won’t miss the deadline. The stronger the commitment the more likely you are to meet your deadline. Do this with all your tasks no matter how regular and ordinary they are.
#4 Leisure Time/ Free Time
As Abraham Lincoln has said, “Give me 6 hours to cut the tree I’ll spend first 4 hours sharpening the axe.” Well i am not telling you to spend most of your time in recreational activities but remember, “your leisure time is extremely important to make you stay productive in the long run.” Without your “my time” your time management efforts will look boring and exhausting. It’s like eating the same healthy yet boring food everyday without treating yourself with a dessert once in a while.
Set aside an hour or two on a daily basis or a couple of hours weekly for the activities you love to do. It’ll help your brain to get rid off from stress and will release Dopamine hormone which is responsible for making you feel happy. It will re-energize your mind and body and will surely act as a catalyst to your productivity. This “happy hour” will keep you motivated to manage your time consistently without a burnout.
#5 Don’t lose track due to uncertain and unplanned events
Now here comes the “consistency killer“. We all face uncertainties. Its magnitude may differ from person to person. For example, for Person A it will be very hurtful if a loved one of him is met with an accident and thus will ruin his complete schedule for, say, days. Person A might not be able to get on the track even after the recovery of his loved one. On the other hand if the same happens to Person B, he might be able to get on the track pretty much sooner than A.
There will be plenty of unplanned events always ready to throw you off the track. Don’t let them do so. When they do, try to get back on the track as soon as you can. Be consistent with your schedule as much as possible.
#6 Get a journal
It’s better to record all your tasks to be done in a journal or calendar rather than in your head. It’s never a good idea to rely on your memory. If you don’t jot it down chances are they will get skipped off your mind and you’ll remember them to do at the wrong time. Apart from that it is unnecessarily stressful to keep tasks in your head. It’ll keep bugging you at the back of your mind.
Record your tasks to be done in either a to-do-list or something which is very handy, say, your cellphone or just a piece of paper. Even better is recording the task along with its time to be performed at.
Those above mentioned simple steps can make a big difference in your time management skills and will consequently improve your punctuality. They are practical and easy. Remember, in order to master your time management skills, you need to be consistent. As the saying goes, “success does not come from doing something occasionally but consistently”. Consistency is the key. In the beginning it won’t be so easy but gradually anyone can get hold upon it. No matter how bad you are at managing your time always believe that you can do. Time management is life management. After all life is nothing but a limited amount of time allotted to each and every living soul on this planet.