In this age of digital distractions, great time management skills are needed to get things done. Poor time management can lead to missed deadlines, low self esteem, little to no time for personal life, stress and a feeling of a loss of control in everyday life.
What are the some of the time management tips you can use?
Time management, if done well, can free up your time for things that are important, but not urgent. You are most likely to put off items in this list due to lack of time. Follow these 7 steps and take control of your time!
1. Set specific goals and prioritize them
Goal setting is one of the key aspects to good time management skills. First, you need to identify what your the broad categories of your goals are.
I simply use two separate categories for Goal Setting: Personal and Professional. In each of these categories, I further have sub-categories of immediate, ongoing, short-term and long-term goals.
Your goals need to be SMART goals. They need to be
- Time bound
Let’s say you want to find a new job. If your goal is SMART, you will need to have a clear idea about the kind of role you want to get into, the location, the time by which you want to be in your new role and the salary range for your new job. Its important that your goal must be achievable. Otherwise, you will simply get discouraged after some time and give up.
The next step is to break down the goal by tasks and individually set estimated times of completion for those tasks. In our example, you might need to network within your industry or learn a new skill or apply to a certain number of companies each day. Crossing tasks off lists is something that will motivate you.
You need to write your goals down, and track them so that you are better organized and your mind is free from stress. My recommendation is to use a task management software to track your goals, so that you are not overwhelmed. There are several great task management software in the market for both personal and business needs. I personally use Asana, for tracking my goals.
2. Start by planning ahead
The next tip is to start with good planning and have a clear idea about what you want to do every day. Have you ever started a day with no idea on where to start? This can lead to analysis paralysis, where you have so many choices that you end up wasting time without actually accomplishing anything. Take some time off every night to plan and prioritize the tasks to do the next day so that you can hit the ground running.
3. Use time management software
Start by tracking your time with a time tracking app for a few days to see where you are wasting the most time. Did you spend an hour a day with a long chat with your colleague that prevented you from accomplishing your tasks for the day? Or did you go down a rabbit hole of web search that you really didn’t need? Keep a log of your time, which will help you from eliminating activities that are taking up your time and prevent you from accomplishing your awesome goals!
4. Eliminate distractions
Now that you’ve started to log your time, you will become more conscious of what you’re doing. You will be accountable to yourself. You don’t want to log that instead of working on your assignment, you wasted 4 hours surfing the web, so you will be mindful of your time.
The next step is to eliminate distractions along the way, whether it be on your desktop or on your smartphone. There are many apps to block websites and can help you stay focused. For example, for the Chrome browser, there are plugins like Nudge that will block sites that you set to be blocked, so that you can work in a focused manner. Similarly there are apps such as Forest that can be used for the iPhone. Leverage the power of software to move you towards, not away from your goals.
5. Learn to say NO
Learning to say NO is one of the pillars of good time management. If you are set on achieving your goals, be it personal or professional, there will always be a trade off. Do you want to go shopping or do you want to study for your test, which is coming up in a few weeks? Learning to say NO to requests from others that you cannot accomplish due to conflicts with your available time, or saying NO to activities that will deprive you of time is something you need to master.
6. Learn to delegate
Many times, it is not possible for you to do everything. It’s okay to ask for help and delegate. It’s important to review your goals from time to time to understand the tasks that can be delegated and the tasks that must absolutely be done by you to achieve your goals. Often, its a trade off between time and money or time and effort. Sometimes, you just need to free up your time so that you can work on the strategy, rather than execution of your goals. Learn to delegate, so that you can work smarter, not harder.
7. Meditate and relax
Meditation is known to help people relieve stress and relax. It can lead to better sleep, lowered stress levels and improved clarity of mind. When you meditate, your mind will be more aware and it will lead you to feel happier and calmer. There are many cool meditation apps, that can help you meditate. The more you mediate, the stronger your mind will become and the faster you’ll be able to reach your goals.
Great time management skills are acquired by being mindful and by practicing them over and over, so that they become second nature. If you follow these steps conscientiously, you will be all set to smash your goals and become a better version of yourself!