Losing Time: tips for effective time management
“Either you run the day, or the day runs you.”
How often do we tell ourselves there aren’t enough hours in the day, that we don’t have enough time to get everything done, and that we certainly couldn’t fit in any new projects. Not having enough time can lead to worry and stress, which means even less tasks being completed.
The truth is, there is a way for you to create enough time in the day for you to accomplish what you want to, but it is the inability to manage your time effectively and efficiently that leads to chaos and stress.
But just saying there is a solution doesn’t always mean we follow it; many of us have seen the articles that tell us how to manage our time effectively, but never seem to take notice of them. Why is that?
We all know how different people can be, which means how we operate can be immensely different. The key is to find what works best for you and to adjust it to your style. In addition, the key to implementing an effective time management system is repetition. Repetition makes a habit, and that habit will make you much more effective at time management in both your work and home life.
So how do you find the method that works best for you? Below are a list of the most effective time management methods used and how to use them; not all of these are necessary to adopt in to your daily lifestyle, the best thing to do is find one that you know you can stick to and go from there. If you over commit yourself to trying to implement every suggestion you will find that none of them stick and you are back where you started.
Effective Time Management Tools:
To Do List
This is probably the best place to start for anyone looking to improve their time management. Some of us think that we can keep all of our tasks in our heads with no need to write them down, but it simply isn’t feasible. We will always forget something along the way or remember it too late. Each morning you should write your to-do-list for the day and as soon as something else comes up, write that down too. By visually acknowledging and tracking what you need to do you will find yourself becoming much more productive. There is also the excitement that follows marking off a task, knowing you are one step closer to your daily, weekly, or long term goals.
If you can work out what needs to be done in your day then you will already notice a boost in your productivity. One of the biggest problems people face with effective time management is that they don’t always consider what it is they need to be doing and how long it will take them to do it. Each morning you should prioritise your day – what is important? What can wait? By working that out you can get focused on what you need to and get things done faster.
Interruptions can be detrimental to your time management, to your performance and to the performance of those around you. Of course, interruptions can happen and are not avoidable at all times, but it is important to set aside some time where you aren’t interrupted. If you are at work, close your door and take your phone off the hook – it lets people know that you are in the middle of something important and that they should come back another time. It is also important to leave your emails unattended in that time so that you don’t get off track with your current task. The same goes with working from home, place your phone on silent and out of reach, keep your email browser closed and keep your head in the game, focusing on what you want to get done.
Always ensure you give yourself time for a break. At the start of the day, whether you are writing a list or prioritising, make sure one of those priorities is a block of time to clear your head. A 15 minute break can work wonders for you and makes you much more productive upon return – go for a walk, read a book, make a snack, anything that gets you away from your workspace for a while. You will find that the time away refocuses you.
Whether you have a list or not, things don’t always go according to plan and we run in to snags along the way, the important thing here is how to deal with it. If you let yourself give up or get angry it can be detrimental to both your work and your overall wellbeing.
Log your time
A great way to see where you are spending too much or not enough of your time is by keeping a time log. Keep a notebook beside you, or even a digital document open, to log when you start something and when you finish it, as well as any hiccups you encountered along the way. This goes well with prioritising, as it will give you the ability to see where you need to dedicate more or less time to things.
Implementing just one of these steps can put you on the path to better time management and becoming much more effective and efficient. Once you implement one step, you may even find yourself on track to implement others.
You need to choose to want to change your habits, as no one but you can change how you operate. Don’t let your day run you, make sure you run your day- your way!