Time is the greatest equalizer in life, irrespective of the age, gender, race, location, you have the same amount of time as the person next. Life is a smooth sail if you have mastered the art of managing it well, reverse the case, your productivity will suffer and you can be incredibly inefficient. You might make a little progress, but will stumble in the long run. Remember the old adage, work smarter, not harder. It is time to bring it to work!
Here are 8 tips on how to take control of your life by becoming a better time manager.
1. Plan ahead
One of the worst mistakes you can make is to jump into a task without any clear knowledge of what need to get done. The time you spend planning and thinking about your course of action is imperative to achieve your goals which otherwise would be lost hopping from one probability to another and hardly achieving anything. Planning ahead for the next day at the end of each day can be a good decompression technique and you feel more confident to take on the new day.
2. Prioritize your time
Your energy and creativity levels fluctuate throughout the week, schedule high-priority tasks for Monday mornings when your brain is well rested after the weekend and you are looking forward to start the new week on a positive note. Complete creative and demanding tasks on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, keep Fridays for networking and weekly evaluations. Focus on your priorities, address the most important tasks on your list and don’t sweat on the small irrelevant stuff.
3. Learn to say NO
You are the boss of your life, take charge and learn to decline requests you are unable to meet and do not hesitate to do so. Your time is precious, know your goals and what needs to get done; you don’t have to be the people please all the time. Ditto for the tasks/projects that you notice are leading nowhere. Be prepared to move on to more productive tasks instead. A simple ‘no’ will save you from lots of headaches and heartaches.
4. Block out the distractions
Turning your phones off is the quickest way to improve efficiency. While smart phones come in very handy but the incessant social media alerts, mindless hours spent browsing internet, Netflix, gaming, constant urge to check and reply to emails can be the biggest drain on productivity. Start paying attention and track self-induced interruptions, instead of being always online, plan a break during the day to catch up on emails, call people back, talk with friends etc. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites to make them hard to access.
5. Get good sleep
Do not underestimate the power of good sleep. Most people need 7-8 hours of good sleep each day to function effectively. Studies have proven sleeping less often leads to poor health and hurts the cognitive process that in turn impairs your attention, concentration, alertness, reasoning and problem solving abilities. Tired minds are more prone to get distracted as they struggle to stay focused. Be sure to get plenty of good sleep each day, there’s nothing like an alert active mind.
6. Instill keystone habits
Some habits are more important than others, they have the power to transform your life, and these are the keystone habits. They create a chain reaction by changing and correlating with your other good habits. For example, exercise is correlated with better mood, good eating habits, less stress, more confidence, and better sleep. In the same way, waking up at the same time, making your bed in the morning is correlated with health, sense of well being, productivity and responsibility.
7. Avoid multitasking
We need to burst this bubble – multitasking is actually a bad idea,you may think you’re getting more done, but you’re probably wrong. Multitasking works against human psychology, it causes anxiety and confuses your brain when you try to get more things done at once. Time management doesn’t call for doing more things; it’s about doing more of the important things. You might take pride being able to juggle between multiple tasks, but your mind is never really focused on any one task. Paying attention to each task is what makes you more efficient.
8. Trade to-do list for a done list
While there’s a huge satisfaction in crossing something off your to-do list, but it is frustrating to see what you didn’t manage to achieve. A done list on other hand at the end of day is great to evaluate your progress for the day. You have more freedom with the done lists as they aren’t obligated by check-boxes and you are able to see how much you have accomplished instead of highlighting what’s still left to do. A done list also reveals your weaknesses, which helps to improve your productivity. Sometimes unexpected tasks pop in during the day, jot them in a separate list alongside for that extra pat on the shoulder at the end of the day.