How many times have you asked yourself, “Where did the day go”?
While you may or may not have said those exact words, chances are you’ve felt that way more times than you’d like to remember. The truth is, we all have days like this. Sadly, no matter how enthusiastically we’ve woken up with the feeling we’re going to make some real progress, sometimes we’ve lost the feeling entirely by noon.
When this happens, it’s a sure sign that we’re not managing our time effectively. Worse yet, we tend to resist the very changes we need to fix the problem and finally get ahead.
If you’re fed up with losing your day to indecision, procrastination, and every time waster on the planet, then it’s time for a change. It’s time to grab hold of these 20 common sense time management tips and actually use them.
Probably, all of these will sound familiar. These twenty tips are tried and true. They work…if you put them into place and utilise them. None of them are difficult, and they will free up time to enjoy your life to the fullest. But be warned: These tips are non-negotiable. They don’t work unless you commit to following them to the letter.
Thankfully though, they’re simple to implement and are a lot less painful than you’d imagine.
Figure Out Where the Time Goes
You can’t make changes in how you manage your time if you don’t know how you’re using your time to begin with. Spend the next week keeping track of what you do throughout the day. There are even apps for this if you’re more techno-savvy. At the end of your week, go back and look for trends and patterns. Figure out where the majority of your time is spent. Examine the timewasters. Look for patterns in how your week plays out. This information will be important as you work through the rest of this list.
Limit Items that Eat Your Schedule Alive
When you look at the list on how you spend your time, hunt for items that take far longer than you think they ought to. Start limiting the time you allow for those tasks. Have you ever heard of Parkinson’s Law? It states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. By putting a cap on these activities, you’ll find you start unconsciously making better use of your time in these areas, slowly becoming more productive.
No matter how you spend your Sundays, you should always set aside some time to plot out the week to come. Figure out the big picture items. What would you like to have done by the end of the week? Now break those items down into smaller tasks and divide them up over your days. Don’t fret too much about this step as you’ll refine those daily To-Do lists throughout the week in a daily morning assessment of your schedule. Don’t be afraid to rearrange tasks throughout the week to time slots that make more sense as the week progresses.
Celebrate the Unexpected Accomplishments
Did you do something not on your To-Do list? Make a note of it, so you can take credit for the accomplishment, and so you can enjoy the satisfaction of seeing just how much you’ve gotten done by day’s end.
Do the Big Stuff in the Morning
Studies have shown we really do get the most done in the first hours of work, even if you aren’t a morning person. With that in mind, tackle your biggest and most important projects early in the day, before you lose that natural energy and focus.
Drop the Distractions
There comes a time when you really have to say ‘enough.’ Every distraction costs you, both in time spent dealing with them and in getting your concentration back once you’ve experienced those interruptions. Become protective of your work time, blocking all distractions. Shut your office door, turn off your phone, do what you need to to give yourself uninterrupted time to work.
Numerous studies have shown multitasking costs you big time. Did you know you actually lose IQ points when you do more than one thing at once? Instead, put all your concentration in one place at a time for the best productivity.
Just Do It
If you’re waiting for inspiration, you might be waiting a long time. Truly productive people don’t wait around to ‘feel’ like doing something, they just do it. Here’s where your schedule is going to come in handy. Look at where you’re supposed to be and start moving. You’ll hit your stride before you know it.
Drop the Perfectionism
More time is wasted in trying to make things ‘just so’ than you realise. Look at what you’ve done. What is the goal you’re aiming for? Is the goal unreasonable? What would the acceptable amount of work to do on the project in front of you? Focus on getting things done instead of getting things done perfectly. “Perfect” is an illusion anyway.
Keep Your Eye on the Big Picture
Nothing drops productivity like getting caught up in tiny details that aren’t that important. Sometimes the best way to get yourself back on track faster is to take a hard look at where you’re going and what you’re trying to accomplish overall. A lot of those tiny details will work themselves out as you go.
Don’t Forget to Rest!
Feeling burned out? If so, you’re probably not taking enough breaks in the day. Go back to the list you made about how you use your time. Look for breaks. Are you taking them often enough? Are you actually getting away from your work? Add regular break times to your daily schedule. Aim for at least one short break every hour, with a longer break every few hours.
A lot of our time is spent waiting for something to happen. Rather than becoming impatient when you’re left waiting, start making use of this time. Wait time is great for tiny tasks, like answering messages, getting caught up on your reading, stretching, or using the time to take a well-deserved break.
Attack the Email Monster
Don’t let your inbox get the best of you. Organising your email makes it easier to find what you need when you need it. Also, by working out a plan to handle email, you never wind up losing that important message from your boss or forgetting to answer those all-too-important queries. You’ll be amazed at how much time you can save by just setting up some basic filters.
Exercise Your Brain
Time management means managing your time spent away from work as well. Spending time in new hobbies or activities far removed from your day to day life makes life more interesting while building new neural connections and enhancing creativity.
Take Care of Yourself
Addressing your bodily needs is incredibly important when it comes to time management. How are you supposed to stay on task or even schedule your day properly if you’re half asleep or dragging because you skipped lunch? Eat right, exercise, and make sure you get adequate sleep every single day. Put these things on your calendar and set reminders if you need to so you can follow through. They’re just that important. And do’t forget to add some mindfulness meditation even for a few minutes here and there during the day, just bring your awareness back to your breath.
Take Advantage of Your Calendar
Speaking of adding things to your calendar, how much effort are you giving to scheduling yourself? Block out your day. Put in the important tasks of the day alongside your appointments. Include things like reminders to drink water or when to go to bed. Putting everything on a schedule is time management at its best.
Learn the Fine Art of Saying ‘No’
Time is valuable. Don’t spend it on just anything. You only get 24 hours in a day, every day, and you need about 8 of those for sleep. How do you really want to spend the other 16 hours? Are you going to use up your time awake on projects you have no wish to be part of, or are you going to optimize your time for something more important to you? Start saying ‘no’ to things that just don’t make sense to your goals.
Playing ‘catch up’ all the time kills productivity. Get stuff done on time. Turn things in early if you can. Commit to this level of productivity and watch yourself accomplish more than you ever thought possible.
Focus on Your Habits
Go back over that chart of how you spend your time to discover where you have habits which might need to be broken. Use these tips to form new habits in their place.
Discover Work / Life Balance
In the end, you can’t work every minute of the day without burning out. Remember, life is not just about your goals for the future but is also meant to be enjoyed today. Find pleasure in the present moment. Resolve to keep a balance between your dreams and responsibility.
Remember, all these tips really are just common sense, sometimes we just need to bring our awareness back to the present moment and address them. By committing to working on them with time management in mind, you will discover productivity beyond what you’ve previously experienced in your life. Imagine how you’ll feel when you spend each day accomplishing more, while at the same time achieving your dreams!
Hey, Im Kylie a Master Coach & Nurse Practitioner. I help You make the Mindset shifts to propel you to Happiness & Success + Design a LIFE that You LOVE! As Featured in NYC Journal I am also the owner of Life by Design – Positive Printable’s
I change out the FREEBIES often so check back regularly