Time Management Made Easy in 11 Steps
Struggling to manage time can be so frustrating and disruptive. You know those friends who seem to endlessly have their shit together and are always on time, polished and nothing less than 100% present? I’ve got 10 solid real life tips to help you become that person!
To manage your time effectively, you have to commit to changing old habits and to learning and introducing new ones. Commit to trying one of these tips a week if it seems overwhelming at first. No excuses, no bullshit. You just have to pick a number between one and ten and get started. You may have already started working on time management and you have have other tools that you use too; these tips are intended to make life easier for you, just adapt what works for you, but TRY IT before deciding it ain’t for you!
Keep lists or a notebook
Keep notes! Carry a notebook with you; use your cell phone; always have a pen and paper, whatever works for you. I keep journals everywhere — wherever I am, I have a journal within reach. If not, a pen and paper. If you remember something that you forgot to do last week, write it down. You’ll come back to it if you write it down, if not that thought might just float right away…
Be disciplined at setting start and finish times for things
If you have things to do that are urgent or time sensitive, set a date and time to get it done. Stick to this! Set a start time, and if it is a long task, schedule breaks. Set an end time too so you don’t overdo it. Get up and walk around every half hour or do some stretches. Set an alarm to break up monotony.
Use visual reminders
If you ignore your phone reminders like so many others, use digital ‘Post It’ notes or another form of reminder system. I like visual reminders of longer term tasks and I have a blackboard next to the fridge that has stacks of reminders on it. Keep a notebook with your day’s tasks listed and refer to it often.
Plan your day ahead of time
Spend half an hour in the morning over breakfast or half hour in the evening before bed planning your day. It works, no bullshit. Organizing your thoughts is equally as helpful as listing what you have to get done. Put it on paper, then work to schedule your start and finish times.
Include buffer time
Whenever you are scheduling time in for a specific task, include buffer time. Always expect to be interrupted: just like you should always expect traffic! Be realistic, and don’t let yourself get away with dawdling. Buffer time will help you get ahead on your work/tasks, use it to your advantage.
Do not take on extra stress
Make very clear decisions each day about you will let bother you. If you have stuff going on in your personal life but have business to handle, focus on one thing at a time. Do not anticipate stress, that just creates it. Is it worth being upset about the small things?
Ignore emails and phone calls
This is one of my favorite tips to get things done. In fact, I recommend hiding your phone if you have a busy day! Ensure that you have a great voicemail and set a timer. Maybe you need to come back to your phone in two hours. Shut down the email notifications on desktop too! Be sure to schedule time to catch up on emails and to return phone calls, and stick to that.
Limit access to social media
Be conscious of how long you spend each day on the internet, watching TV or fooling around on your cell phone. These time-wasting traps are going to drain your brain of any productive capacity, so put it down! Schedule ten minutes to check your social media at lunch time. Delete the apps off your phone if necessary so you have to check it on a browser.
Use a timer. For everything!
Your phone has a timer, use it! When you’re cooking food, use the timer. You’ll end up with better cooked dishes! When you’re working at home, use the timer to keep you focused and on task. Set alarms and stick to them if you have trouble rising in the morning. Set an alarm to remind you to finish working if you’re a workaholic. Set an alarm to remind you to go to bed if you’re a night owl. Set an alarm right now!
First things first
Take care of pressing and important business or tasks first. This might mean prioritizing a daily list, or it might mean creating a routine. Either way, take care of the important things first and move down the list. Do not get distracted or sidetracked!
Top Time Management Tip: Create systems for efficiency
If you are notoriously poor at managing your time, create systems where you know your weaknesses lie. The tips and tricks above are systems that I have created and used to keep myself on track professionally, but I use them each day in my personal life too. Creating systems to make life easier is a huge life hack: for example, if you know are always late, leave the house half an hour earlier. Create a system to help you get out of the house easier by always keeping your keys in the same spot by the door.