Do you feel overwhelmed by the amount of day to day responsibilities you have? Do you find yourself getting caught up in a frenzy of multitasking to keep on top of your work and personal to-do lists?
As time passes, more and more tasks get added and you suddenly find yourself unable to manage the load. It’s easy to become stressed with a long list of things to do and not enough time to do them. This can oftentimes take its toll on mental and physical health and cause a block on productivity.
Being productive means being in control. If you can set boundaries for what you intend to do and when you intend to do it, you put yourself in a better position to achieve your goals. There are a limited number of hours in the day, so why not learn how to get the most accomplished within the least amount of time?
Making simple, efficient changes to the way you organise your time can help you lower stress levels, improve productivity and achieve your goals faster. The key is to find what works best for you and your busy schedule.
With this in mind, here are 10 effective tips for time management so you can improve your skills and increase productivity for yourself.
1. Start Early
Springing to action early in the morning isn’t for everyone. Although a surprising number of the world’s most productive people love to get a running start on their days by waking up early.
Billionaires attribute their success to sticking to daily routines and starting them early. The aim is to find a manageable wake-up time that suits your own schedule.
Goal setting can give you a clear outline of your daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly goals and insight into what you need to do each day to achieve them. It can also help you to find and keep your motivation to wake up and start the day early in the long run. If you’re not sure about where to start, these are some questions you could ask yourself.
2. Prioritise Tasks
Prioritising your tasks can free up more time and allow you to become more efficient overall. Before you start your day, be sure to identify the urgent tasks you need to complete, so you can clearly note them down and delegate those of lesser importance. The Eisenhower Matrix is an effective system you could use to achieve this.
Here’s how it works:
- Urgent + Important (Do first)
- Not Urgent + Important (Schedule)
- Urgent + Not Important (Delegate)
- Not Important + Not Urgent (Eliminate)
Urgent tasks are the ones that you feel you must react to first or have strict deadlines. And important tasks are the ones that contribute to your long-term goals. Good time management is all about being able to delegate or simply delete your less important tasks and focus on what you really want to do in life.
When you’re prioritising your tasks for the day, ask yourself what you can do that would make the biggest difference. Choosing the right place to focus our efforts can sometimes matter more than you believe.
3. Create Systems for Tasks
It’s common to take on more tasks than you’re capable of completing. This can often result in overwhelm, stress and burnout. One way to prevent this is by creating systems you can follow to make managing tasks easy.
- Organising work tasks, personal to-do lists, events and long-term goals all in one place can make them simpler to follow.
- Handling short tasks at once allows you to quickly move on to the next and creates ongoing movement to the day.
- Doing the most difficult task first thing in the morning and crossing it off your list allows the rest of your day to flow easily in comparison.
Never underestimate the power of organisational tools. Become an effective planner and use these systems to your advantage each day.
4. Schedule Your Tasks and Their Deadlines
Having the ability to preplan is probably one of the biggest tips for time management. Putting 20 minutes aside to set up a daily schedule the night before can allow you to start being productive from the moment you wake up and might even give you a better night’s sleep.
When creating your schedule, the most important thing to do is set realistic deadlines for certain tasks. Break down longer tasks into smaller ones to make them more manageable. For instance, if you have a long report to write for work and you know it will take hours to complete, try breaking it down into incremental tasks like outlining the structure of it, researching for it, writing certain sections of it, or even tackling it paragraph by paragraph.
Think about how long you’re able to carry out these certain tasks before needing a break and factor them into your schedule too.
You can carry your planner or notebook with you to know if you’re on track. You’re in a better position to reorganise tasks as the day progresses and delegate more important ones that might come up.
5. Track Your Time
Struggling to comprehend how much time certain tasks take to complete can seriously hinder your ability to make efficient schedules.
This is why tracking your time is such an important time management skill. It can help reveal what exactly is distracting you, identify your biggest time drains, manage your focus and even protect against burnout by allowing you to set realistic goals in your schedule.
The most effective way to do this is to keep a journal to record your progress. Bullet journaling has a number of life-affirming benefits and can even be used to manifest what you want to achieve in life.
Setting up a simple time tracking system within your bullet journal is a sure-fire way to start tracking your time smoothly whilst adapting to daily changes.
6. Learn to Say No
Once you’ve organised your schedule and begun to realise how much time it takes you to complete certain tasks, you’ll be able to know realistically how much you can do with your time.
The mistake you can often make is saying yes to taking on more for others and ourselves when you are already overloaded. Psychologists have outlined the many reasons why you might find it hard to say no. Most commonly, it’s done so out of fear of rejection and losing social approval from others.
Although you may have positive intentions, agreeing to help others without the capacity puts you at serious risk of burnout.
Just like time management, knowing how and when to say no is a crucial skill. Practising self-care correctly can allow you to free up time and headspace to devote to important things. Ultimately, others will likely respect and value you for being able to know your limits by setting boundaries.
7. Avoid Multitasking
Multitasking might seem like an efficient way to get more done, but it can actually hinder productivity in many ways. It can often interrupt the flow of work and lead to mistakes being made due to absentmindedness.
Scientists have also shown that the human mind can only divide attention so far without having trouble.
To improve your focus, try to complete one task at a time before moving on to the next.
Make use of to-do lists, follow systems, schedule tasks and stick to realistic goals and deadlines to set yourself up for personal success. Checking off items as you complete them will also give you a sense of accomplishment and keep you motivated.
8. Overcome Procrastination
If left unresolved, procrastination can be a drain on your essential time and energy. Leaving tasks until the last minute can result in missing deadlines and stalling productivity in your work and personal life.
Interestingly, psychologists have found procrastination and depression and anxiety to be closely linked. The social withdrawal that comes with depression can lead to avoiding certain behaviours like making phone calls to strangers and meeting people in public.
Prioritising your mental health is one of the most crucial tips for time management. Taking breaks can give you well needed mental space from concentrating on long tasks that may feel overwhelming. Working short, fun activities to your daily schedule can help break up more difficult tasks and help you keep on track.
Avoiding procrastination and keeping motivated with your daily tasks can be difficult for many, so it’s important to learn how to prevent certain behaviour and get back to doing what needs to be done.
9. Take Regular Breaks
The power of relaxation should never be underestimated. Taking breaks can be the most efficient and effective way to reset if you’re feeling overwhelmed and overloaded.
The best idea is to detach yourself from work completely and away from technology. Find a quiet place to sit and read, or write in a gratitude journal. Get up and pour a glass of water or eat a healthy snack. Go for a short walk or do some simple stretches to keep your body active throughout the day.
You can take it one step further and even schedule your breaks. Whether a short or long break, knowing when they are coming will likely help you to overcome boredom or lack of motivation so you can push through the task at hand.
10. Manage Your Stress
If you make a habit of accepting more work, projects, tasks and chores you’re capable of accomplishing, it can often lead to an increase in stress. And more often than not, too much stress can take a toll on your body and put a drain on your energy levels, which can negatively affect your productivity.
Whilst keeping your time management in check, try working in some productive stress-reducing activities into your scheduled breaks. Depending on how much time you have, you could include:
- Carry out your very own self-care ritual
- Prepare yourself a healthy snack or meal to enjoy
- Get active by going outside for a walk or running an errand
- Exercise or do yoga stretches at home or the gym
- Practice simple breathing or meditation techniques
- Take a 20-minute power nap to regain some energy
- Have a shower or relaxing bath
- Spend time socialising with friends and family
- Read a book, listen to music or watch your favourite show to unwind
- Journal your thoughts to become more mindful
The most successful people listen to their bodies and prioritise their health to make sure they aren’t harming progress. Set some time aside to explore your options and find out your most beneficial ways of dealing with stress.
When you become intentional about what’s on your plate, you’ll be able to break down the bigger picture into smaller tasks that are easy to complete.
There are 168 hours in a week, which means there is more than enough time to do all the important things. The reality behind getting them done lies in knowing the most efficient and effective tips for time management skills to fit them all in.
Try using the methods above and you may surprise yourself at how much more you’ll get done!