Do you ever feel like time is running faster than Usain Bolt, and you are relentlessly falling behind on your goals and dreams? Do you ever feel guilty that you did not utilize your day well, or you could be a lot more productive? Do you regret missing deadlines and turning in half-finished assignments? Do you wish to improve your routine, but keep procrastinating? All of us have been there and regularly revisit that state of mind.
Throughout my life, far too many people have told me to manage my time better, but none actually explained how. Therefore, I learned the feat on my own, and now I have reached the point where I can preach my readers. Time management is no rocket science, so just follow my free and legal advice.
Understand the Concept
In order to achieve time management, you must first acknowledge its true meaning. Time management is all about organizing and executing your tasks/activities in a way that enhances the end result. You might not have to work harder, but you’ll definitely have to work smarter. You have to accomplish more using lesser time and effort, i.e. output must exceed input.
When you have learned how to manage your time, you will reach the perfect balance between work and personal life. You will get more work done, whilst feeling less stressed and exhausted. Your days will become lighter, happier, energetic, and fruitful. There’s no magic involved, but certainly a lot of will power!
Lack of sufficient sleeping hours and insomnia are the root cause of most problems. If you did not manage to get enough sleep, how will you wake up refreshed and rejuvenated? Sleep for about seven hours straight every night, so you do can avoid intermittent napping during daylight hours.
Start the Day on a Positive Note
Do not succumb to the snooze button of your alarm, because the five or fifteen extra minutes of sleep will never be enough or rewarding. Do not forestall getting out of bed until you barely have time to drive to work. You must wake up early even if you are a freelancer, because slacking off will not pay bills.
You must have plenty time to get ready, eat breakfast, exercise, and do something for yourself (an activity you enjoy) before starting work. Cleaning up and dressing nicely will improve your hygiene and make you feel good about yourself. A morning walk or workout session is awesome for boosting your metabolism and beating fatigue. Follow that with a nutritious breakfast and you are good to go.
Reflect and Prioritize
Before you start work, take a few minutes to consider everything on your plate. Identify tasks that are important or urgent; put aside errands that are less significant or can be delayed. If there are tasks that can be eliminated or delegated, kick them out of your schedule right away. Assign these trivial duties to someone of lower rank or anyone vacant, who can do a passable job. Focus on things that matter and prioritize them on your to-do list.
Most individuals are more active in the first half of the day, so all the difficult tasks must be assigned to the morning. Energy levels are lower after half time, so that period can be allocated for completing minor or easy tasks. On the other hand, not everyone is a morning person; some people become more conscious in the latter part of the day, so adjust your schedule accordingly.
Keep a Diary/Calendar
If you are working on multiple projects and need to keep up with several deadlines, it is feasible to keep track of all your progress and responsibilities. You can jot down the essentials the traditional way, using a diary/calendar, or you can use any of the infinite digital applications on your phone and computer. You may have a good memory, but reminders and records will make your life much easier.
When your workstation and surroundings are a mess, your mind will also be in chaos. Whether it’s your working desk or your computer’s desktop, it should be neat and generally unoccupied. If the screen wallpaper of your computer is not visible and there is no space on your table to place a cup of coffee, the red sirens are blaring! Instead of placing every file on the desktop, distribute them into a few folders: for example, one for images, one for documents, one for pdfs, etc.
When you are saving a file/document, name it appropriately so you can conveniently look it up later; quickly saving it as random alphabets/digits is not a smart idea. There are many items on your desk that were never used or that belong in the wastebasket. Get rid of the garbage and rearrange the stuff you actually need.
Once you have de-cluttered your ambiances, your mind will be at peace. There will no more nerve-wracking episodes of you rummaging through entirety and not finding what you need. Every file/object will be readily accessible, and you will earn extra time for doing something productive.
Tracking your work helps eradicate confusion, so you know exactly what to do as you reach the workplace. A person who is unsure of his/her order of work, often looks up to others for directions. Many of us will just do what we are told to do, without contemplating our supreme objectives. Then there are those who know what they should be doing, but will abort their mission when new orders emerge.
When a colleague, client, manager, or your boss asks you to deliver a supplementary favor, saying ‘YES’ is not the only option. You already have pending assignments and deadlines to meet, so why take up even more burden. Learn to say ‘NO’ and frankly tell them that you are already running out of time on previous projects. Be polite and refer them to someone else if possible. In case your boss or manager insists that this additional task is urgent or top priority, demand compensational time extension for completing your other assignments.
Exchange Perfection for Realistic Goals
Do not attempt to transform into a superhuman by overworking yourself and aiming for perfection. Stop overestimating your aptitude and set realistic goals in personal and professional life. Your job is not your life, but just a part of it. Everyone has a different working capacity, so we should respect our limits. Sometimes curtailing your to-do list for the day is the right way for managing time.
Overpower Your Distractions
All those emails, chat apps, phone calls, and meetings come in the way of actual work, and take up more time than we realize. Communication with your coworkers and clients is important, but too much of it becomes a distraction. Scientific research claims that a person checks their social apps every six minutes on average. People are continuously distracted by notifications on their smartphone and computing devices.
Meetings should be brief and scheduled at the start and/or end of the day; two meetings of about fifteen minutes each are quite sufficient to discuss official matters. Turn off your notifications, and check your messages on an hourly basis. You can also put your phone on silent and call back later.
Allow yourself Relaxing Breaks
As I may have mentioned before, overworking yourself is a criminal offense because it’s neither healthy, nor effective. Working for five or more hours straight is stressful and unrewarding. A person who took seven 15-minute breaks during an eight-hour shift will get more work done, compared to a person who worked for eight hours straight.
You must incorporate relaxing breaks in-between your work shift, in order to calm your nerves and restore your vigor. Utilize your breaks well by doing something that cheers you up; you may play a game, eat a snack, chitchat, or have a cup of coffee.
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