Important Life Skills: How to Manage Time Better – 10 Tips that Actually Work
It’s 5pm and it feels you haven’t made any progress. Your to do list is longer than ever. How will you ever keep your boss happy or get your house chores finished? Perhaps all you need is knowing how to manage time like the pros. We can help with that.
When you consider people like Elon Musk or Leonardo DiCaprio there’s a lot to be in awe about. And we’re not talking about their bank balances or their blockbuster movies. Where do these individuals get time for all they’re involved with? From new inventions to helping charities to supporting environmental groups, they do it all, while managing their unique day jobs.
How do they do it?
Perhaps it’s time you get a different kind of hero—time management experts. Ever heard of Laura Vanderkam? Read a book lately by Stephen Covey?
If you don’t have time to research these experts, don’t worry. We’ve compiled some pretty awesome tips on how to manage time better, right here.
1) First Step: Assess Your Current Goods and Bads
The reason Laura Vanderkam has a popular TED talk online is because for most people it’s definitely possible to make better use of your time. And she’s an expert at it.
But not all of us know how to make that a reality, right?
First up, you won’t know how to manage time better if you don’t know what the source of the problem is. So, assess what you’re good at and also what’s holding you back.
Common challenges with time management include:
- Procrastination has become a habit for tasks you don’t like
- You don’t delegate to others
- No organized system to manage time or tasks
- Saying ‘yes’ to too much work or doing too many favors
- Technological gadgets and social media distract you often during the day
Be honest—what’s YOUR weak point?
Write down the top 5 obstacles you face. By eliminating even just one or two, you can start regaining control of your time. And one of the following 9 tips is bound to work for some of your challenges.
2) Get a Plan for EVERY Day
Even if you’re aware of all the work you need to do in the office or around the house, that’s not enough to get it done efficiently. Straightening up a room, washing a few dishes or answering some emails when you feel like it, won’t cut it.
You need a plan.
Ideally, create a plan for the entire week on a Sunday already. Since Mondays are one of the most productive days of the week, rather use it for getting things done than spending an hour figuring out where to start.
To keep momentum during the week, tick off the items you created on the Sunday. It serves as motivation—doesn’t it feel good each time you can see your list getting shorter?
3) Establish the RIGHT Habits and Routines
How you plan and perform your tasks will determine your productivity. And you want a high level of productivity throughout the week, so tasks take as little time as possible. This requires helpful habits.
Firstly, on Sunday when you plan your week’s calendar or when urgent work lands on your desk and you need to adjust your schedule, use this tip.
Always do the worst tasks first.
What’s your worst task?
- The difficult work that requires a lot of focus
- Chores you don’t like—hate even
- Work that you stress about the most, because it’s for a moody boss or client
By getting these tasks out of the way, you won’t have them nagging at the back of your mind. Without the distraction, other work gets done faster.
Other healthy habits that affect your workflow include getting enough rest and exercise. If you stay healthy, you’re more efficient. You also need a healthy lifestyle to deal with stress that’s bound to be part of your workdays.
4) Set Due Dates and Time Limits
For each item you add to your week’s schedule, also set a clear due date or time of completion.
Mr Musk have apparently stated “If you give yourself 30 days to clean your home, it will take 30 days. But if you give yourself 3 hours, it will take 3 hours.” So, one of Mr Musk’s keys to productivity is to use due dates as motivation to keep up a good pace.
Consider realistic timelines, but also realize that being too lenient on yourself will make you less productive.
If work needs to be delivered to others, make the due dates on your calendar a day sooner than they expect you to report back. The pressure helps you get it done quicker, but you won’t have the stress of finishing just in time. AND you’ll have time to review and improve if necessary.
5) Learn to Better Manage Distractions
Even with due dates in place, you still need to force yourself to focus on the job at hand. Scrolling through Facebook feeds or getting annoyed by street noises won’t help. The seconds you lose by not focusing on a task add up to many wasted minutes by the end of the week. So, be proactive in managing distractions:
- Work with noise cancelling headphones on
- Turn your desk away from the window, so movements outside won’t break your concentration
- Eat proper breakfast and lunch, so hunger pangs don’t distract you
- If you need to concentrate, place a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on your door
- For those working from home, find a spot away from the main traffic in the house, or use a room where you can close the door
Lastly, don’t let the lack of inspiration serve as a distraction or delay either. Simply start. Often, the ideas will come once you’ve started, not before.
6) Practice Saying ‘No’ more Often
Your schedule may simply be too full, without any possibility of finishing it all by Friday. But is all of it really your responsibility, or are you doing other people’s work? If you don’t learn to sometimes say ‘no’ when people ask you for help, your own workload and stress levels will suffer.
7) Assess Each Task: Priorities and Achievability
Here’s another reason your daily calendar is simply too full: you’re doing unimportant tasks.
Instead of simply adding chores and work to your roster, first consider if it’s a priority. While unclogging the drain is important to prevent plumbing issues, deep cleaning the carpets could perhaps wait a week or two? And while your boss’ monthly reports are high priority, perhaps a teambuilding event can be scheduled after the company audit, when everyone’s schedules are less hectic.
Furthermore, don’t add items and goals to your list that you know you can’t complete or achieve. For example, do you feel you don’t have the resources or equipment to perform a certain task? Then rather schedule a meeting with management to discuss alternatives—don’t waste precious hours trying to figure it out on your own, with no chance of success.
8) It’s a Myth! —Multitasking Doesn’t Really Work
Whether you’re at the office or trying to get the house deep cleaned when spring arrives, don’t try and do everything at once. Contrary to common belief, multitasking won’t help you work through your family chores or work responsibilities quicker. Rather, it can slow you down because you’re less focused. Rather pick one thing at a time and do it well—and quick.
9) Group Tasks and Traveling
Instead of multitasking, simply be smart about how you go about planning your tasks. For keeping the house clean, plan all the tasks for the living room for one cleaning session, before moving to the study. With less walking between rooms, you’ll save time.
The same principle applies when working or going shopping. Rather than driving all over town on one day, try and plan all meetings and destinations in a certain location for a specific day of the week.
You’ll save travel time AND fuel!
10) Make Better Use of Resources: Technology, Apps and More
You live in a time where technology can often improve life and that goes for learning how to manage time better as well:
- Referring to point #7 above, perhaps it’s time your boss invests in new equipment to help you get work done faster.
- And for yourself, software to track your team’s progress or a chore tracker app to remind family members of their tasks are worth trying. They help you keep to the plans you made (see point #2 above), so you’ll have more to show for the week—and have the satisfaction of marking items as ‘done’!
Your Workload Does NOT Have to Overwhelm You—How can Enzo Help?
Now, do you need to speak to your boss about deliverables? Will Sunday night planning be your key to success? Or do you need to download Enzo, the market leading chore tracker app, right now to get your chore list organized?
A few simple plans on how to manage time from now on, can make all the difference in your life.