Time management tips to control your time will help you to get more things done in a day. Isn’t it wonderful that some people manage their seven-figure-revenue company while having enough time for family gatherings, sleeping, and traveling? But even dedicated people sometimes feel that time slips away. If you are looking for ways to make improvements in your life, these 18 time-management tips will come in handy to be more productive.
1. Set your mindset right. Be proactive, not reactive
You should know that there are things that are out of your control like weather, people’s opinions about you, economy, and politics. While your attitude, education, skills, and the most important thing your habits, are the things that you can manage.
With that said, there are two ways to choose; be reactive and blame the things that are out of your control, or be proactive and don’t allow the outside forces to affect your mood. You may ask “how can I have a proactive mindset?” The answer is in our following time management tips.
2. Make your morning rituals right
The way that you begin your day sets the entire tone of the day. If you start the day early and energetically, there is a great chance for continuing your day the same way. Find more help about setting your morning rituals right in our article “How to achieve more in a day”
“We are what we repeatedly do,” said Aristotle. Your character is a mixture of your habits. Your daily habits can produce effectiveness or ineffectiveness.
3. Use time management apps
There are different time management apps that you can take advantage of to perform better in less time. Task organizing, work hours and productivity tracking, meeting scheduling, and mind mapping are some of their magnificent features. You need to find out which one works best for you but we suggest “Google Keep”, “Google Tasks” and “Google Calendar”. If you sync Google Calendar on your phone, for example, the same events will show up on your computer without a lengthy process of linking everything.
4. Put the most important things first
one of the time management tips is you need to figure out what is your top priority right now. If you have fallen into the vicious cycle of checking your social media or e-mail accounts frequently, leaving late for work, watching TV shows when you get home, and staying up late, then it means you haven’t put the important things first. The best tip to control your time as well as your stress level is to make a schedule based on priorities without interruption.
Categorize your to-do list by urgency and importance. Stephen Covey has developed a quad chart for this:
|Quadrant 1 is urgent and important, the reactive things that you should just manage.||Quadrant 2 is not urgent but important, like exercising and spending time with your family and friends.|
|Quadrant 3 is urgent but not important. Most people waste their time here. Examples are non-important phone calls and other people’s emergencies.||Quadrant 4 is neither urgent nor important.|
Covey’s formula is to manage quadrant 1, focus on 2, avoid or delegate 3, and limit the fourth quadrant.
5. Don’t forget to have some flexibility in your schedule
If you have carefully read our tips to control your time so far, you’d realize that scheduling is the key. You may think that you can just write things down on a calendar which is a decent job to do, but one interruption ruins everything. Try to set at least 15-25% of flexibility or organize major tasks weekly and the smaller ones daily. This will give you the freedom and the flexibility to handle unanticipated events. As Mike Tyson famously said about boxing, “everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” You need flexibility in your schedule, otherwise, you become its servant, you feel guilty when you don’t meet your schedule, ending up worn down until you throw time management away altogether.
6. Stay organized
We spend almost 5000 hours (208 days) of our lives looking for misplaced things. Disorganization can cause stress, distraction, and even physical injury, leading to poor time management. Staying organized gives a direction to your personal mission while it helps you to spend time on the most important tasks. Get rid of the clutter and give the things you actually use a “home”. You can donate, store, or throw away the other stuff.
7. Learn how to say “No”
Imagine that you have a tight schedule for your entire week and even the week after that. Your friend calls you and asks if you can serve community service. You feel pressured and don’t want to do it but you finally agree. Of course, these services are important but if they are not on your quadrant 2 you should learn to say “no” unapologetically. This can be achieved when you are motivated enough to say “yes” to your own success.
8. Master the art of delegation
If you are one of those people who think delegation takes time and you can do the job better on your own, maybe you should think twice. Delegation means growth for both individuals and corporates. Giving others responsibility enables you to focus on your plan and gives others a chance to flourish, ending up with better time management.
There are four main styles of delegation according to Caroline Rowan, a business coach and the president of CVR leadership, mentioned in her article Stewardship Delegation Makes a Difference; 1. Stewardship Delegation: Focusing on results instead of the methods, 2. Dump and Run: Passing the project without explaining the expectations 3. Gopher Delegation: Go for this. Go for that and 4. Micromanaging: Involved in every move they make. Stewardship delegation may take more time in the beginning but it is absolutely worthwhile. The next tip to control your time will help you to realize the importance of dedicating this time.
9. Train and educate
It saves you time when other people in your company can problem solve without having to come to you. A win-win situation that releases individuals’ potential, directing them to become result-minded rather than method-minded, and gives you time to deal with your own priorities. Although it may seem difficult and time-consuming at the beginning, in reality, it is an investment. Even if you are not a manager, training others is always a good deed and brings a sense of satisfaction.
10. Imagine a life-long success
Do you know what is the most common regret among people when they find out their life is almost over? Their unfulfilled dreams. This time management tip wants you to make sure that you have made your life plan wisely and it is what you truly want. “Measure twice, cut once” before creating the roadmap of your life. Figure out your destination and final goal, then divide it into smaller goals and work towards them, one at a time!
Time Management Techniques
The first 10 time management tips require building new habits. The rest of the points are some techniques to ensure you can benefit from your new routine.
11. Eliminate distractions by becoming a single-tasker
We’ve all been taught to believe that we can do more at one time than we really can. This way of thinking leads to unattainable expectations leaving us feel destined to fail. Multitasking can be a trap when you are working on a project. On the other hand, focusing on a single task can promote action. When you are working on something, keep your phone and other distractors in another room. You can even do more in less time if you do this often.
12. Arrange similar tasks to be done together
Sometimes you can batch a number of your tasks together. For example, you can dedicate a specific time to checking your emails and making phone calls instead of doing them in the middle of another task. As we said before, in our time management tip number 11, multi-tasking can affect your effectiveness because different tasks require different types of thinking and acting, but some tasks could be done together.
13. Follow the Pareto Principle
Pareto Principle or 80-20 rule states that 80 percent of the results flow out of 20 percent of the activities. To select your important tasks, Covey suggests asking yourself this question: What one thing could you do in your personal and professional life that, if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your life? These are the things that you should put on quadrant 2 of your schedule. If you have 20 important tasks, choose 5 of them and only put your effort on them.
14. Use “Pomodoro” Technique
This famous time management method is based on 25-minute intervals of work, followed by short breaks. Set a timer for your desired task and work on the task until the timer rings. Put a checkmark on a piece of paper and take a short break (3-5 minutes), get back to work again, and repeat this process. After 4 intervals you can take a longer break (15-20 minutes).
15. Avoid What-the-hell Effect
Many of us are familiar with this one! It is 2 PM, you are behind your schedule, and you haven’t done anything significant to help the situation. You think to yourself “what the hell…today is ruined” and continue watching TV. What-the-hell Effect describes the cycle you feel when you indulge, regret what you’ve done, and then go back for more. It usually happens for people on a diet who can’t help eating but it can surface in any area of life. Try to remember time management tips and stop before falling into this effect. Take a look at your schedule and pick up a task to complete.
16. Put the Zeigarnik effect to work to overcome procrastination
Have you ever noticed how TV series with cliffhanger endings for each episode give us a sense of suspension? A cliffhanger is hoped to motivate the audience to return and see what happens to the character. This is called the Zeigarnik effect. You may ask how is time management related to this?
The Zeigarnik effect can put a stop to procrastination. Once you make yourself start a project, you are likely to finish it. You tend to remember this unfinished task again and again, to the extent that it distracts you from doing other activities. Don’t forget that the human mind has a natural tendency to focus on easier tasks. So, make sure that the thing you chose to remain unfinished is an important and non-urgent one.
17. Manage the “monkey” on your shoulder
This time management tip is dedicated to managers. When a manager accepts to solve a problem for his team members, he is allowing a figurative monkey to leap from the team member’s shoulder on his shoulder. He overburdens himself with these monkeys while his team members are running out of work. Oncken and Wass offer a basic but important law for managing monkeys: “At no time will your problem become my problem. The instant your problem becomes mine, you will no longer have a problem.”
You need to learn how to deal with these monkeys. Proper monkey management leads to greater employee job satisfaction, effective use of time, and increased organizational problem-solving capability.
18. Reward yourself
The last but not least thing on our tips to control your time is to reward yourself. Rewards encourage you to keep doing your best because your brain elicits positive emotions after receiving one. You can buy yourself something nice or just take some “time out”, the important thing is to establish a reward system for yourself to reinforce the value of time management.
There is no quick fix for acquiring time management skills. They need discipline, consistency, motivation, and planning. You need to figure out which of these tips can help you but they will definitely pay off in terms of productivity.