Time management—that ever-elusive goal to which we strive to improve on, but often miss the mark. With a finite amount of time, however, few things can have such a profound impact on our productivity, as well as work-life balance, as proper time management.
To help you make the most of your efforts, here are some tips that will change your everyday habits for the better.
Start the Day Right
Joe Matthews, Don Debolt and Deb Percival, writing for Entrepreneur, highlight one of the most important steps to getting your day started off on the right foot:
“Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day. Don’t start your day until you complete your time plan. The most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time.”
Divide Your Time and Effort for Maximum Productivity
The above authors also emphasize the need to properly distribute your time and effort:
“Plan to spend at least 50 percent of your time engaged in the thoughts, activities and conversations that produce most of your results.”
“No”—A Two-Letter Word That Can Be Your Best Friend
One of the biggest challenges of time management is learning what is important and what isn’t. Too often individuals take on everything that comes their way, quickly becoming overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tasks. The single biggest help, and sometimes hardest thing to do, is learning when to say “no.”
According to this recent article by Fortune, just start by giving yourself 24 hours.
“You don’t have to give an answer right away! Think about what you will get out of it, if it’s worth your precious time, and if it’s something you really want to do. Also consider what is already on your plate? Will you have to give something up?”
One of the biggest mistakes many people make is not setting priorities. The solution? Karen Burns of U.S. News suggests:
“Be ruthless about setting priorities. Make sure that what you think is important is really important.”
Burns also mentions that it helps to implement some identifiers as to what is considered a ‘priority’ and what is ‘dire’.
“Learn to differentiate between the important and the urgent. What’s important is not always urgent. What’s urgent is not always important.”
An often overlooked key to successful time management is turning key tasks into habits. Jordan Bates, the creator of Refine the Mind, extols the virtues of making a habit of things. The more something becomes a habit, the easier it is to complete.
How do you do that? As a writer, Bates achieves this by writing every single day. “I’ve made it a point for a long time to write something every day,” writes Bates. “Because of this, my mind is in the habit of doing the work of writing. It has become quite natural and enjoyable.”
Are there elements of your daily and weekly routine that could benefit from this approach? Are there elements of your workflow or tasks, especially those you find challenging, that with a little effort can become a habit? If so, this may be a big boon to your productivity and time management.
No matter how elusive time management may seem, a few simple steps can make all the difference between being productive or not. Learning to plan your day, saying no to superfluous tasks, setting priorities and creating good habits can have a profound impact on your day-to-day routine and improve your work-life balance.