- 7 tips for "Time Management"
- Bonus Tip: Talking to yourself
Have you ever felt overwhelmed? Have you ever felt there is not enough time in the day to take care of all your responsibilities?
Well, I am here to tell you that a proper time management strategy will make you feel like a super hero! If you learn from this article, you will be amazed at how much you can get done while at the same time minimizing the stress you feel!
Time is our most valuable resource, and we should treat it as such.
Lets examine time management and apply what we learn in our lives to reap the benefits.
With the great plot twist of the day, I am going to start off by saying there is no such thing as time management (Gasps!)
That's right, there is no such thing as time management. Time is beyond our control, time will pass no matter what we do. Our only hope in the face of time's inevitable march onward, is to manage our selves.
There is no such thing as time management, there is only self management.
The issue of what we call 'time management' is really a matter of choices. We can choose to be efficient, or we can choose to be disorganized. We can choose to be easily distracted, or we can choose to get rid of distractions and focus. We can choose to concentrate on our highest value tasks, or we can be a leaf at the mercy of the wind and hide from responsibility.
Next we are going to talk about some choices we can make to improve our self-management.
Here are some tips that will make you great at self-management and will help you get more accomplished in shorter time.
The goal is to make these tips into habits that you do every day.
If you DO make these tips into habits you will get more accomplished, and you can have the self-confidence and peace of mind to know that you are doing your best so your stress can reduce and your sleep can improve.
If you do NOT accept these into your life as habits you will always struggle with the clock and you will continue to feel overwhelmed.
1 Plan your day the night before, write it down and prepare
If you plan your day before you go to sleep you will immediately improve your efficiency and performance. Taking the time to understand the most important outcomes of your day will give you the clarity to ignore tasks that give no benefit and instead focus aggressively on the key tasks that yield all the results.
Writing it down will help you remember, but it also has psychological benefits. Writing it down reinforces the tasks and priorities in your mind. Your plan will be more clear, more strong and more memorable when you write it down. Do not skip this step! Write it down!
Take time to prepare for the day and prepare for your tasks. Use a calendar and a daily planner.
Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. Look for useful apps that will help you. The daily planner helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.
Often times we feel overwhelmed because we feel like there are so many tasks that need our attention. Writing them down in a calendar or daily planner can help clear your mind because you can see the individual tasks instead of the monstrous totality of all of them. It will give you confidence that one at a time you can slay this beast.
Use the planner to keep track of the crucial deadlines so they don't surprise you. Know your deadlines and aim to be early. When you aim to be just on time, you are more likely to be late. However, if you aim to be early, you’ll most likely at least be on time. Strive to be early for appointments and early for submission deadlines.
And take 5 mintues at the start of each task to decide the plan and the most important factors for success.
At the end of each task take 5 mintues to review how well you did and what you could ave done better.
Take this quote from Abraham Lincoln for example, and think about what it says about choices and time management:
"If I have 4 hours to chop a tree, I will spend the first three hours sharpening the axe."
This is a great example of self management, notice he did not try to manage the time by moving frantically, and he did not deviate from his plan and goal.
2. Organize & Prioritize
Part of planning and preparing is to organize and prioritize. Start by being real with yourself: if you know you have much to accomplish and a limited amount of time to accomplish them, make sure you are focused on the high priority tasks.
Ask yourself "What are the most important outcomes of my day tomorrow?"
The Pareto Principle is a rule that most of the time, 20% of our activities yield 80% of the results.
Ask yourself: is this true for your activities? Do 20% of your activities give you 80% of the results? If so, you need to make sure that you start with the important 20%.
A filing system will help you quickly find thee resources you need for your tasks. If you don't have one you need to create one.
3. Say NO and focus
We are constantly surrounded by competing interests that will try to steal our time and attention. A key to self-management is to know when and how to say no. You have to be able to refuse those things that will not help you achieve your goals.
If there is a person who is asking for your time or attention, you have to be able to refuse them politely and directly.
Practice saying "Im sorry but I am busy right now", "Sorry but I cant help you right now", "I cant do that, I have other things I need to do". Don't worry about offending people because if you are sure that you have more important issues there is no reason anyone should be offended. If they become offended that is their problem, not yours. Stick to your goals and priorities.
You can even put up a "Do not disturb" sign when you absolutely have to get work done.
Practice not answering the phone. You don't have to answer every call just because it's ringing. Don't check your messages and emails if you are in the middle of important work. Instead, schedule a time to answer email and return phone calls.
Another aspect of this is to learn when enough is enough. If you have begun a task or begun to interact with someone who is wasting your time, you have to be able to politely leave the situation. If someone wastes 10 minutes of your time, 8 minutes was your fault.
Don't get bogged down with unimportant details. If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.
Multi tasking kills productivity. Close out all other browser windows. Put your phone away, out of sight and on silent. Find a quiet place to work, or listen to some music if that helps you. Get off social media. Give yourself a period of time of uninterrupted work. Make a commitment to stay off social media until a certain time, or until the job is done. Don't rely on your willpower alone. Remove the temptation, put your phone in a drawer, don't visit the sites on your computer either.
Concentrate on this one task. Nothing else should exist. Immerse yourself in it. This is a great skill to have in all areas of your life.
4. Get an early start.
Nearly all of us are plagued by the impulse to procrastinate.
To overcome procrastination, try removing all 'rewards' until your task is completed. A 'reward' could be food, rest, watching TV, picking your phone up again, social media.. anything. You can even create rewards for yourself like buying a chocolate bar that you will only eat when your task is completed.
Try starting your task for just one minute. Don't think about completing the whole task at one go, just start for one minute. It is often easier to start this way. And once you have started, it is easier to continue past the one minute mark instead of starting with the idea of completing the whole task.
There are many other strategies to combat procrastination. But the bottom line is: this is a choice. This article is about self management and procrastination is a habitual choice we make. Take responsibility for your actions. Remind yourself why this is important. Remind yourself that your life is the totality of your choices, and JUST DO IT! That's the only way things get done, its the only way I've gotten these blogs done!
This is much easier said than done, but if you can learn to be ruthless with yourself and learn to do the right thing even if it is difficult, you will reap great rewards in your life.
Make this a habit and you will reach all your dreams.
You can do it! Start with baby steps, start today, if you stumble try again, and you will get there!
5. Work on a schedule.
Instead of just sitting down to work on a project and thinking, “I’m going to be here until this is done,” try thinking, “I’m going to work on this for three hours, then take a twenty minute break”.
This will help you get focused work done and avoid distractions since you have a scheduled time for distractions. The imaginary deadline can also help you get amazing progress done.
Then during your break you can appreciate how much you have done and you can see the progress you are making and it will give you hope!
6. Break your monster down into smaller tasks
One of the fastest ways to overwhelm yourself is to think about your massive to-do list.
Any enormous task can and should be broken down into many smaller and more manageable tasks. This has profound psychological benefits. It allows you to knock out the smaller tasks one by one instead of feeling like no progress is being made.
7. Relax, Breathe, and see the big picture
No matter how large or important your tasks may seem, take some time to appreciate the fact that there are much bigger issues at hand. If you have your health and friends and family then you are blessed. Take time to breathe and laugh. Take time to eat and drink. Take time to sleep.
You will do your best work when it is in the proper perspective. Don't get too stressed out. Get massively productive instead! Work hard, do your best and move on.
Bonus: Talking to yourself
All of us talk to ourselves everyday. We carry on an internal dialogue that shapes the choices we make. Our internal dialogue reinforces our self-image and guides how we deal with the world around us.
If you see yourself as someone who struggles with making good choices and 'time management' then you will talk to yourself as such. You will create situations and scenarios that prove you right. You will repeat similar choices and you get the same results.
So we are going to use the power of positive affirmations to change this pattern. Positive affirmations are commands that begin in the conscious mind and we transfer them to the subconscious mind. This is a very effective tactic to self-management because it will affect all of our decisions, not just one; it will allow us to be consistent in out decisions and our gains will be multiplied exponentially.
So we are going to start by talking to ourselves as if we were already the excellent 'time manager' we want to be.
Start your days by looking in the mirror and saying:
"I am excellent at time management, I manage my time well. I am excellent at time management, I manage my time well."
If it feels ridiculous, congratulations! you are doing it right.
Saying this to yourself repeatedly will influence all of your decisions, your knee-jerk reactions, and your thoughts. This is the foundation that will help to hold all of the action items we will describe in the next section.
Once you master this technique you have a the tool of a champion, and if applied correctly, this will open doors for you and change your life. Use it wisely, because any thing that is repeated will be accepted by the subconscious mind.