The older I have gotten the more I have come to value good time management and the efficient lifestyle it can enable. If you’re struggling to get things done, feel stressed or always feel like you’re spinning your wheels without moving forward – then this is just for you!
Set Goals & Prioritise Them
By identifying what you want or need to achieve and then ranking this by their order of importance, you will find it much easier to get things done and move between tasks more efficiency.
A common cause of procrastination is not being entirely sure of what your next focus should be, or knowing and being daunted by something that could have been broken up into easier to complete, smaller goals that build up momentum and confidence.
Learn to Say “No”
This one has been an important lesson in my own life. As someone who would always say yes to take on tasks or responsibilities, I often found myself overloaded and stressed by the never-ending list of things I had to do. As this list got longer, I found myself more likely to procrastinate or lose focus and consequentially waste time.
By more closely analysing my current situation with what things I am being asked to do, and having the confidence in my own abilities to know that saying no does not make me a bad or incompetent person but it allowed me to keep myself from feeling overwhelmed, retain my focus and have my time valued more highly by others. When people think you’ll agree to anything, they are more likely to try and offload things to you. By asserting your time as more valuable, people will start to treat it as such, which helps a lot too!
Focus Solely on Your Current Task
It is all too easy these days to think we are great multi-taskers. Balancing instant messages, music, multiple browser-windows and jumping between various topics and thoughts seems very normal. However, in most circumstances this leads to people losing the attention to detail that will ensure the task they are doing will be done right the first time. It also slows you down from smashing out something and moving onto your next task. By bouncing around, you will find things take you longer and this can waste a lot of your time.
Monitor the Time You Spend at Idle (TV, Social Media, Gaming)
Of course these are all ways people like to relax and unwind, it is important to take note of how much time you spend doing these activities every day or week. You might think you don’t spend much time scrolling your social media feeds until you take a conscious look at it. It’s common to find you’re spending hours on your phone each day without realising because it is so fragmented for example. By reducing this, you will gain a large amount more time back that you can use to be more productive with.
Focus on the things that really bring you value, such as catching up with friends or family, or doing a certain activity and try to cut out the things that don’t derive you that much joy but are just easy-to-form bad habits like sitting in front of the TV every night.
Exercise & Eat Well
Regularly exercising and eating a balanced diet will do wonders for your ability to focus, rest, maintain concentration and absorb new skills. One of the biggest improvements to my time management came in my mid-teens when I started going to the gym. My confidence and motivation for life improved hugely which saw me improve what I was doing in countless other areas, and these results are widely talked about in fitness communities.
If you aren’t one to exercise normally, give it a try for a few months. You’ll notice the difference, and if you ever stop you’ll really feel yourself slow down.
Learn to Delegate
If you’re in a position where you are in a team environment – like a classroom or workplace – then learning to delegate could save you huge amounts of time. Too often, people (especially OCD types) will want to do everything themselves because they want to ensure it is done their way. The problem with this mindset in team environments are that these people often take on so much responsibility that they get overwhelmed and begin to despise those around them for not being as overwhelmed as they are.
By learning to delegate and put your trust in others, you’ll free yourself up and, overtime, build up a reliable team of hands that can communally get things done. Many hands make light work after all. Become more comfortable with letting things go and you’ll find you save a lot of time and stress in the process. Accepting that people make mistakes or have different expectations of things than you is important here as well. So communicate clearly, or if you aren’t in a position of authority, simply accept that your word is no more important than theirs and learn to compromise.
I hope these tips will help you improve your time management skills and improve your productivity and quality of life. Mastering these skills has served me well professionally and personally but they are not all natural behaviours so require constant revisiting to keep them relevant in your life.