Time management

10 Easy Time Management Tips You Can Start Using Today to Achieve More

Think the average workweek is 40 hours long? Think again.

As much as this has been a “universally accepted truth”, we all know that the reality is far from this. When you factor in all the tidbits that constitute a workday, you may be working way less or way more than the 40 hours per week.

Think about it.

The time spent in your inbox – and the time after to regain your focus. The meetings you attend either asleep or with your mind completely disconnected. Mindless scrolling on social sites…

A lot comes into play cutting off a huge chunk of your time.

And it’s not all about working for way less than 40 hours.

The Harvard Business Review reports 72 hours as being the new duration of a workweek – that’s roughly 14 hours per day!

A lot could be said as to why this is so. But inefficient time management is a key cause. The good thing is it doesn’t always have to be this way.

There is a way to utilize your time better, achieving more in the 8-hour window than an exec would in 14 hours. Curious?

Here are 10 different ways of doing so.

1. Plan Ahead

Intentional achievements don’t happen in a state of disarray. If you’re looking into managing your time better, you must plan for it.

You have to picture how your workday will look like and what you wish to accomplish by the end of it. That means you have to set goals, consider the tasks you must do, and decide which ones come first.

So your typical planning ahead process will have 3 steps:

1. Setting goals

2. Coming up with a to-do list

3. Setting priorities

Setting Goals

Setting goals (the right way) will give you a clear roadmap of what to do with your time. Rather than juggling activities you think might be important, you take time to evaluate and settle on those that are actually important.

And it’s all about being SMART here. Your goals must Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Coming up With a To-Do List

Knowing exactly what you want to achieve will open your mind to what you must do – at least for a larger part. And this can be a collection of several items.

What you want to do is capture each one of them lest you lock any of them out. This is best done either at the end of the day or first thing in the morning.

Setting Priorities

As mentioned, you’re going to end up with a couple of tasks you need to work on. Are you going to tackle them simultaneously?

Of course not, you’ll be running back to what you’re trying to avoid – wasting time.

So you’re going to have to decide on what to do first, second and so on. Typically, your tasks will fall into the following categories

· Important and urgent: needless to say, these are a top priority. You know you need to work on tasks here before moving on to something else.

· Important but not urgent: as much the tasks here are important, they are still better off being worked on later in the day or on a different date.

· Urgent but not important: these are tasks with little significance to your pre-set goals. You can delegate/outsource these.

· Not urgent and not important: these can wait, for long, until that time your plate is clear.

2. Don’t Underestimate the Significance of Breaks

It’s normal to try and work long periods in a bid to achieve more. But we all know what that leads to: a burnout.

And you might end up accomplishing way less than you had hoped to. The solution to this?

Short breaks. The human brain can only focus for so long. Beyond 90-120 minutes, you’ll find it hard to stay on track. That is to say, you need to break after working for these periods. You’ll accomplish much more that way as you’ll come back rejuvenated.

3. One Task at a Time, Please

Multitasking is a great idea, only if you’re under the illusion that it will help you do more. This is a myth.

Among other shortcomings, it inhibits your focus. And that means you can’t get into the flow state, hence getting very little done during your work hours.

Yeah, and that implies wastage of time. The way around this is to go with a single task at a time. This shouldn’t be a problem when you have a to-do list with priorities set.

4. Remember the Quote About Eating a Frog

“If you have to eat a frog, do it in the morning. And if they’re two, eat the biggest first.” – Mark Twain.

Pick anything from this quote?

Here’s what it means: go after your most demanding tasks early on in the day. Mornings have been proven to be the time when the brain is most focused. That means you’re likely to be more productive hence able to plow through that daunting task.

And it’s not only about peak productivity.

Finishing (successfully) a task you considered challenging gives a certain feeling of accomplishment which compels you to do more.

5. Eliminate Distractions

Goes without saying. Remember point 3 above about multitasking?

Same thing – that’s with disrupting your flow state. Anytime you veer off from your task, it can take as much 25 minutes to get back on track. This can add up significantly at the end of the day.

So to achieve peak performance – and stay there for as long as the brain allows – anything that isn’t work-related has to go. Email, social media, the phone – name it. They can wait. That will be one piece of the puzzle.

The other is your mind. It is going to stray – it’s only natural. And that amounts to distraction. Granted it will take time to reign on your brain, it’s not impossible.

Meditating every day can go a long way in keeping your thoughts under control.

6. Keep Track of Your Time

Logging your time will help know exactly how you’re spending it.

How long does a certain task take you to finish? How many hours were you productive? And how many did you blow away?

The importance of this is that you get to know exactly the amount of time you’re wasting – and on which activities. Making adjustments based on this is easier.

Wondering how to do this? There are endless tool options:

· Toggl

· Timecamp

· Clockify

· My Hours

And so on.

Remember you’re trying to save time. So simplicity should be a huge factor in picking one.

7. Check Your Habits

To stay on top of your time management goals, you’ll have to let go of those old unproductive tendencies. In most cases, they’re the ones wasting your time. Ditching is more of a no-brainer if you’re in this for real (you should be).

Aimlessly surfing on the web, small meaningless talk, peeking at social sites every few minutes, etc. You’ll be surprised at just how much time you’re able to rack up by eliminating them from your work routine.

8. Saying No Can Go a Long Way

This has a direct link to point 1 above. If you have a plan set up then saying no to doing random tasks should only be natural.

Because it will be clear – whatever these tasks are, they contribute up to nothing to what you’re looking to get done. That means they can wait until you’re through with your to-do list – unless of course, it’s an emergency.

9. Don’t Be All About the Work

Time management isn’t always about keeping track of what you’re doing at work. Have time to unwind. Being a workaholic is not a time management “hack”. If anything, it’s only an indication of wastage.

Create some time each day for exercising and meeting people who matter in your life. And don’t forget to have enough sleep.

These activities will have a tremendous effect on how you perform – and therefore the amount of time you can save – the next day when you show up at the office. Take exercising for instance.

It’s been proven to:

· Lower stress

· Boost learning ability

· Improve concentration, etc.

Definitely worth considering.

10. Cap the Time You Spend on Each Task

Don’t let tasks run for indefinite periods. Put a time leash on them.

This will inspire you to be more focused on finishing up the piece of work within that period. And if you find yourself always coming up short in your efforts, you can have a teardown of your work process, getting rid of anything that is likely to cause unnecessary delays.

You Can Do More

You’re certainly not working 40 hours per week; it is either more or less – all because of wasting your workday.

You can change that. Put the above in practice and see just how much time you have; and how much you can achieve.

Got any other time management tips you use? I’m curious to hear about them. Sound off in the comments below.

Posted by Oscar Musundi

SaaS writer for hire.

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