Your time is the most valuable non renewable resource. One of the most significant skills you can have in life is good time management. If you aren’t managing your time well, you won’t be able to achieve the goals you set for yourself. It’s not about how much time you have – it’s about how well you manage it. It’s time to learn how to better manage your time, to achieve your goals.
Becoming More Efficient is Easier than You Think
You don’t need to try to do everything to achieve your goals. Have you ever felt like there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done? You are not alone.
It’s true that you won’t find more time in your day, but you can make it feel like you have. By merely shifting various activities around, putting the ones that promote self-care first, you’ll set yourself up to be more focused, keeping your sights set on achieving your goals.
Slow Down to Go Fast
Sounds contradictory. It’s not, and here’s why.
By taking time to slow down and be present in what you’re doing, you can focus on the things that are important.
Slowing yourself down allows you to make better decisions as to how you will manage your time, which in turn, helps you keep your eye on your goals.
Start small to make significant strides in achieving your goals.
Identify your goals
Achieve your goals by knowing what they are in the first place. Make sure you are goal-setting the right way, concentrating on what is known as SMART goals.
A SMART goal is a goal that is Specific, Realistic, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.
Write them down–studies show that you are more likely to remember them and plan activities around achieving them.
Look at how you are currently spending your time
Using a free time management program like Toggl will help you identify where your time is being spent. This can help you locate time sucks or areas of wasted time.
At the end of the work week, tally up the numbers for an idea of where you’re at.
Find a good time management system
One of the tips for managing your time is to find the right system to actually do it.
The quadrant time-management system is probably the most effective. It splits your activities into four quadrants based on urgency and importance.
Things are either urgent or important, both, or neither. Neither (quadrant 4) are the activities that you want to stay away from, but it’s the not-urgent-but-important quadrant (2) that you want to focus on.
Prioritize your tasks
Ever heard the task “eat the frog?” This refers to accomplishing your most daunting and urgent tasks first, leaving you the rest of the day to attend to everything else.
Each night before you leave the office, make a list of the next day’s tasks.
Write them down. By creating a to-do list, you’re effectively setting each day’s goals.
Set time limits for tasks
This is a great way to avoid devoting too much time to specific tasks, leaving you without time for other ones.
Designating blocks of time for specific tasks (like responding to client emails etc.) will allow you to stay in control of your tasks and get more done.
Learn to say no
Learn that is ok to say no, especially if you have a deadline or something more urgent going on. If you’re not able to say no, find a way to delegate the task.
Is there an intern or coworker who can handle the job in your place?
If they can, give the task to them so that you can stay on track. This will help to void spreading yourself too thin and avoid the inevitable burnout that comes with this.
Use the keystone principle to build good habits
In architecture, the keystone is the stone that holds all other stones in place.
Similarly, keystone habits help to not only solicit other good habits but also help to eliminate bad habits as well.
Focus on keystone habits, and you’ll get much better at managing your overall time by making your habit development much easier.
Eliminate bad habits
This dovetails off the previous point. It’s easy to get sucked into a funny cat video circulating the office, or excess chatter with your team, or scrolling through Twitter and wasting 20 minutes or more here and then.
These bad habits, however small they may be, are huge time wasters.
Turn off your notifications, keep your headphones on, and try to work through the distractions.
Keep your eyes on the prize to achieve your desired goals.
Take frequent breaks to balance
It may be tempting to work through lunch or stay at the office late to complete a project. DON’T DO IT.
Get up, stretch, go for a walk, whatever you need to do. One study suggests that you should work for 52 minutes and break for 17. If you do not take breaks every once in a while, it is unfortunately far more likely that you will hit your breaking point.
Taking breaks is important for rebalancing ourselves and being able to maintain focus/clarity.
Not every day is going to be perfect, and that’s ok. The key is to find the things that work for you–small changes go a long way.
You may have to look to outside sources to find your motivation. Find an inspirational podcast, listen to a TED talk, or find a mentor in Houston (or whatever city you’re located in) who can guide you when you’re not feeling your best.
We all get into creative ruts from time to time – the key is identifying those times and finding ways to move forward. It takes practice to manage your time well. Keep working at it to achieve your goals!
photo source: pexels + giphy