Running out of time?
These days, it always feels like we’re running out of time. If only there were a few more hours every day, we would’ve been able to take up that extra project, a new class or hobby or even just get a few more hours of sleep. But how do we manage our time better? Can you even manage time?
Time management is, essentially, planning how much time we spend on activities, or – at least – planning how to divide our time between them. With good time management, we’ll be able to work smarter, reduce stress, and get more done – in less.
By using different time-management techniques and tools, your ability to function will improve – even when time is tight and you have that project to finish by the end of the week when nothing’s done yet. Note: busy ≠ effective! And spending a day running around from one activity to the other will often result in no accomplishments; it’s time to understand how to divide your attention.
Tired of missed deadlines, inefficiency, poor work quality, a to-do list that gets longer by the minute or tons of stress? Read below to find our top 5 tips for time management.
The Triple A's: Awareness, Arrangement, Adaptation
Before diving into implementable tips, we first need to figure out if we have the “underlying” skills for time management; researches show that the “triple A” skills listed here all matter when it comes to time management performance. We strongly suggest working on your Triple A’s:
Your ability to be sel-aware of your time management skills. Being able to accurately estimate the time it takes you to complete a task (of any kind, really), is crucial when trying to decide how to divide your attention. Do this by seeking feedback from peers, looking as baselines for common tasks or use objective online assessments.
List out your tasks, and try being as accurate as possible – as unplanned tasks will most likely be “time-costly”. Prioritize: urgent and important tasks come first, the rest later. Here’s a handy method of prioritizing, also known as the Eisenhower Decision Matrix:
Important+urgent: Do these tasks right away.
Important+not urgent: Decide when to do these tasks (probably up next)
Urgent+not important: Delegate these tasks if possible.
Not urgent+not important: Set these aside to do later, or even eliminate them altogether.
Ironically enough, developing time management skills take, well, time. Test and develop your skills in light of your changing lifestyle, different “crisis” events and life challenges – there’s no one recipe.
2. Setting your goals
Setting goals is a subject by itself, but we’ll do our best to (briefly) dive into it. Generally speaking, you should set goals that are achievable and measurable. Using the SMART method when setting goals can help - In essence, make sure the goals you set are Specific,Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
Other things that can help setting a goal are writing it down carefully, telling someone about them, breaking them down to even smaller goals, planning your steps and celebrating (!!!) when you reach them. Even the littlest achievement counts.
Another small tip that can help setting goals is creating a to-do list; keeping a simple list of the things you have to do today (as well as marking them off when done) will improve productivity significantly.
3. Time limits & Breaks
We’ve gathered here today to discuss time, so it only makes sense to set time constraints for your various tasks throughout the day/week etc’. Setting time constrains help you be more focused and efficient – and give you a little nudge if you ever notice you’re running out of time.
Small note, however – if you keep missing out on your time constraints, you might need to reconsider your time allocation; go back to step 1 and improve your self-awareness when it comes to time allocation.
Estimating the time it takes to complete a task prior to beginning it will help locate problems that might come up at a later stage (for example, if you need to get something done before a meeting or a call) – and will allow you to delegate or postpone according to need.
Another important thing to keep in mind is taking breaks (!). Here’s the brutal truth: we’re not taking enough breaks, and we might even feel guilty taking them. But as it turns out, working too hard will result in exhaustion, fatigue and even early burnout. Allow yourself some downtime between tasks, clear your head and refresh for a little while – future you will thank you.
4. Be organized
When it comes to organization – tools are your friends! From oldschool notepads to online calendars, there are plenty of tools out there that can help keep organized. Utilize your calendar, write deadlines, digitize your to-do lists. You WILL NOT believe how much an animated happy “done” reaction can help you feel accomplished.
Experiment with different methods that will help keep track of the time you dedicate to your tasks and help organize your schedule. Some people find it useful to use one dedicated tool for everything – others like using several tools together. As we’ve said before, try it out, change when needed, adapt.
5. Plan ahead
You know what comes next? Your future. And future-you will thank you for thinking in advance; planning your day, week and even month or year in advance will help you start them with a clear idea of what’s going to happen. This will increase your chances at successfully being productive and might even help achieving bigger life goals and dreams.
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