Time Management Tips [how to increase productivity]
You never feel like you have enough time. You’re rushing from commitment to commitment, constantly trying to cram more into your calendar. Your inboxes become increasingly cluttered and you’re falling behind at every turn.
Time management is critical to have an accomplished, happy, and successful life. It is the structure in your life that must be in place. Time management is a combination of science and art. Analytical steps must be taken while combining it all with common sense to achieve your life goals and true happiness. These Time Management Tips will help to improve your life.
Do you feel like you are bombarded with “silver bullet” methods and solutions that promise to uncover hours of wasted time every day, but just push you to do even more than you already are?
You also feel guilty for “wasting” time by deliberately slowing down, as if you are somehow failing the world and yourself if you aren’t in an endless flurry of motion and activity.
Fortunately, there are a few trusted techniques that can help anyone with time management. Let’s explore why time management is so key to your life, and some concrete ways that you can manage your time better right now.
Importance of Time Management
Time management is a science, but it’s not rocket science. It can easily be tailored and incorporated into your life. Not everyone can do things in the same way. Strategies and calendar planners are tools to serve you, not to hinder you.
With this said, engaging in effective time management is a major benefit to how you go about your life.
- You can become more productive (this seems obvious, but it’s true).
- You can relieve unwanted tension and stress.
- You can create a better work-life balance, finding time for the things that really matter to you personally.
By taking charge of your time, you are refusing to let the world run your life as if you had no say in the matter. Important!
How Can I Improve My Time Management Skills?
This is the question that seems to be on everyone’s lips. For some, this means getting more done; for others, it just means keeping their heads above water.
For most of us, though, it comes from a lack of feeling accomplished or a fear of letting things get further out of control.
Regardless of which specific tips you try, there are a few basic ways you can improve your time management skills:
- You can employ tools like planners, apps, organizers, and more. These are tangible solutions you can employ with little or no preparation.
These can feel like a lifesaver when you start using them but staying consistent is key or else you’re back where you started.
- You can change your habits. This requires a bit more effort on your part, but persistence and dedication can make a habit permanent. That being said, even the best of intentions can’t solve the root problem.
- You can be brutally honest about where demands on your time come from, and change your schedule accordingly. This takes even more work, but it will deliver the best results in the long run, and your tools and habits can be even more effective.
This is about learning to say no.
Again, it’s important to understand what will be best for your life. If all you need is a new planner to keep everything running smoothly, then just buy one. Easy.
But if you’ve felt behind for a long time, it’s important to stop and take stock so you can make a real change.
Examples of Time Management Skills
There are some specific ways that always work and can help you improve your time management skills today. You can employ these tips no matter what calendar or software you use. They can work at any stage of life.
- Prioritize the most important things. Put everything down on paper, then decide what’s most important and do that first. There’s a difference between things that are actually important and those that are simply urgent.
Sometimes certain things are due first, but you should be willing to put some demands aside in order to really accomplish the important stuff.
- Make a schedule and stick to it. No one can be completely inflexible with their time, but you should hold yourself to your schedule as much as possible.
This is one of the first ways to actually manage your time instead of letting it manage you.
- Give yourself deadlines. Even if something doesn’t have a traditional “due date,” draw a line in the sand and tell yourself to have something done by a certain date.
It gives you a more tangible goal to work toward instead of a nebulous “maybe.”
- Take breaks. This may seem counterintuitive, but taking a break can actually help you get more done. It’s a chance for you to relax your mind (and body) for a bit, appreciate your accomplishments, and refocus your mind for whatever is next on your list.
- Get rid of the clutter. We’re not talking about physical items that pile up in your home or workspace, but more about the smaller things that feel like wasted time.
Just because you’ve always done something a certain way doesn’t mean that you’re forbidden to change it.
- Organize your schedule and your life. This can mean preparing meals for the week ahead or laying out your clothes the night before a big meeting. It can also mean color-coding your planner so you know what’s coming up at a glance.
Whatever system is best for you, organize your schedule and your plans to be most effective.
- Wake up early. Sometimes we just feel rushed because we missed the alarm clock. Instead of hitting the snooze button five times in a row, force yourself to get up out of bed earlier than usual.
You can even get more done first thing in the morning, even if it’s a short self-care routine.
- Look ahead and plan accordingly. Time management is a long game, not just a day-to-day endeavor. By scanning weeks and months in advance, you can train yourself to get more done now so it’s not waiting for you later on.
- See where you’re using time right now. This takes some doing, but it’s worth looking at how you use your time now so you can clearly identify how to repurpose that time and use it in better ways.
- Plan with the goal in mind. Why are you doing this particular task? What’s the endgame? These may seem like silly questions, but time management isn’t about just getting more done.
It’s about doing more of what matters, and there’s a reason some things matter more than others. Think about your goals, and the right things become more important instantly.
- Mark off your to-do list. Once you write down a to-do list, break out a highlighter, or check a box every time you do something.
You’ll get instant gratification from your win, and you can look back at the end of the day with a visual reminder of how much you actually got done.
- Do only one thing at a time. Multitasking is a myth – we can only do one thing at a time well, or we can do more than one thing at a time poorly.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t combine errands into a single trip, but whatever you’re working on at the moment deserves your full and undivided attention.
You’ll perform better and get it done faster, allowing you to move on more quickly.
- Don’t procrastinate. Procrastination is just giving yourself permission not to do something. Unfortunately, sometimes we can procrastinate on the really important things, or we keep one or two items on our to-do list forever with no hope of actually marking them off.
Wherever possible, do the things you’ve promised yourself you’d do when you have the time – because you might have all the time you need right now.
- Remember that nobody’s perfect. You can’t follow your plans perfectly every time. Where you make mistakes, or when life takes decisions out of your hands, accept them and do the best you can with what you have.
- Take care of your body. Your health is a key ingredient in your quest to manage your time. Make sure to put in place the needed steps to take care of yourself. Get enough sleep, eat healthy, and exercise on a regular basis.
These are all important ways to make sure that mind and body are equipped to be as effective as possible.
Time Management Tips for Work
Some tips are tailor-made for the job. Here are a few to consider for the workplace.
- Organize your inbox. Design some kind of system that will allow you to refer to emails at a moment’s notice, then stick to it as best as you can.
It takes some time to get yourself organized, but it’s worth the few extra seconds per email to have everything in its proper place for later.
- Don’t get distracted by email. On the other hand, jumping to your inbox every time you hear a notification can suck major amounts of time out of your day.
Not every message requires an immediate response; focus on the task at hand, then come back to your email at another time.
- Learn to say no. We’re under constant pressure to do more so we can impress our supervisors and move up the line for a raise or a promotion. If your workload is hectic and overwhelming give yourself permission to ‘say no‘ if you’re able.
- Don’t be afraid to delegate. Similar to saying “no,” if you have employees or coworkers that can help you do something, ask them. Chances are, they’ll be more than willing to help out. Remember to return the favor in the future if you can.
- Utilize the programs that already exist. Many offices have project management programs or structures in place that are meant to keep everyone on the same page. They can help you manage your time well, and also respect your teammates’ schedules as well.
Time Management Tips for Students
Students are under constant pressure to get more done in order to advance to the next stage in life. Here are a few important items that students should remember:
- Remember that you’re a student first. Whatever grade you’re in or degree you’re working toward, remember that school has to come first. Making time for your assignments shouldn’t be an afterthought once your social life is under control.
As a student, your first priority needs to be your studies.
- Remember what you’re working toward. Most people say your degree is your goal. However, you can think smaller and focus solely on one class at a time. Maybe you need to make a certain overall grade in the class or finish up a minor program to complement your degree.
Or you can look to financial goals by giving yourself more time for a job or a side hustle. Whatever your goal, align your calendar to that purpose.
- Focus on what’s due first. This is another simple trick that really works. It can be helpful to map out all of your assignments, then tackle each one in order of their due dates.
This keeps you on track so you never miss an assignment.
- School isn’t your whole life. As important as school is, you should also give yourself permission to enjoy life. Once you’ve put in a solid day’s work, set aside time for yourself to recharge, or take time with friends and loved ones.
- Take time to be inspired. Along with letting off some steam, look for ways to keep yourself motivated. This can be recreational activities or volunteer work that reinforces your chosen field of study.
This keeps the work itself from being the main goal and instead focuses on how your current work will help you later in life.
Secrets to Time Management
No matter what your goals are in life, simple time management tips like these can help you have a happier and more productive life. It is all about creating time management habits that become part of your life.
There really are no secrets to time management but a series of steps you take in your life. Try one or two of the time management tips we listed above. See what will be best for your schedule and commitments, then stick with the ones that work and keep at it.
You may see results sooner than you think.