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Time management is an extremely valuable skill to practice in almost every aspect of your life. Some people are naturally great with time management, while others (like myself) have to work a little harder at it. We don’t have to master every time management strategy, but what I recommend is trying a few different options out and figuring out which strategies work best for you personally. It has taken me awhile to figure out what time management tools work in my own life, and what works well for me may not necessarily work for you. We are all different, which is why I decided to put together a list of different tips and strategies to help you achieve better time management in your life.
14 Easy Tips to Improve Your Time Management Skills
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1 | Start Prioritizing Your Days
A great habit to get into is creating a to-do list at the beginning of each day, or even each week. For me, this habit originally started in the workplace, but it was so effective at work, that I quickly incorporated it into my personal life as well. Everyday I make a list of the tasks that I want to tackle. After I have my list of to-do’s, I prioritize them by most important task to least important task.
Once I have my tasks prioritized, I know which ones I need to focus on first, and I start with those tasks. This works well for me because it keeps me focused on more important tasks versus tasks that I would prefer to do. For example, maybe on Monday on my to-do list I have both “clean the bathrooms” and “go to the mall to buy a new winter jacket”. I make cleaning the bathrooms a higher priority task that I need to complete before I head to the mall. The reason is because I can easily get side tracked and spend all afternoon at the mall, leaving no time to clean my bathrooms. So, if I complete that task first, then I can take my time shopping!
2 | Create Morning & Evening Routines
Creating routine in your life causes structure and allows you to be more productive and organized. Having a morning routine helps you start your day off on the right foot and improves your time management. It also helps to have a nighttime routine such as picking out your clothing for the next day, packing your lunch, and scheduling your coffee machine. By doing these things as part of your night routine, you are setting yourself up to be less rushed in the morning, and more organized. Creating routine in your life is a really beneficial way to improve your time management skills.
Related Reading: 7 Steps to a More Productive Morning Routine
3 | Write Things Down
Now, like I mentioned, I like to start my day with a to-do list, but that list is obviously composed of the tasks that I am aware of at 9 AM. Obviously, as I am sure you understand, new things pop up throughout the day, and sometimes my priorities may change or shift a bit.
For example, I work in a busy, face paced environment, and I quickly learned that I need to write new tasks down as they pop up throughout the day. I like to carry a notebook with me, so that way when new tasks arise, I can make a note in my notebook so I don’t forget! I am a pen and paper kind of gal, but you can easily use an app on your phone to achieve the same thing!
Even though this seems like such a small/easy task, it really can improve your time management and organizational skills in a big way!
4 | Time Block or Batch Your Tasks
A time management strategy that has been really effective for me personally, is time blocking and batching tasks. If you do not currently time block or batched similar tasks, you seriously need to give it a try. I guarantee you will see a big increase in productivity!
Basically, time blocking is just dividing up your day into one or two hour blocks of time. Each block is devoted to a specific task, and the goal is to only focus on completing one task within each time block. Similarly, Batching your tasks is simply doing all of your similar tasks at one time. Sending and responding to emails is a great example! Instead of sending emails here and there throughout your day and being glued to your inbox, you would instead focus on sending emails for one hour in your day specifically and then be done with it until tomorrow.
Relating Reading: Time Blocking: The Time Management Tool That Will Change Your Life
5 | If Your Having a Hard Time Getting Started – Move on
A great rule that I have started using in my own life is that if a task is taking me 20+ minutes to get started on, I simply move on. Sometimes we’re just not in the right mindset to give a task our full attention. If we move on and complete an easier task, that may help us get into the productive mindset we need to come back to the previous task and get it done.
6 | Use Your Most Productive Time of Day to Your Advantage
We all have a certain time of day when we feel most productive. I am most productive in the late morning and usually at night. Finding the time of day you tend to be most productive using that strategically is extremely beneficial. If you tend you’re most productive in the afternoon, save all of your hardest tasks for the afternoon and tackle them during your peek productive time. Some people just work better at different times of the day, harness that and use it to your advantage!
7 | Let Go of Perfectionism
Something that often interferes with better time management is trying to be perfect. It is important to note that there is a difference between doing things with quality + giving it your all, and trying to do everything perfectly. Do you know how much time I spent on my blog layout before I finally launched it? A LOT. The reason it took me so long to finally launch, was because I was too concerned with being perfect. I was terrified at the criticism of others, and even though I liked my layout, there was always that one thing that I could pick apart. Finally, I just said enough is enough, I need to spend my time on more important things like creating quality content and building readership, and I let go of that need for perfection, and just launched it!
Sometimes if we just let go of trying to be perfect all the time,we can get tasks done much quicker. Instead of re-doing something 5 times to try and make it perfect, aim for high quality, and leave it at that. Chances are, you will never actually complete the task “perfectly” so why waste so much time trying?
8 | Learn How to Say No
This is a tough one for many people, myself included. We want to be able to do it all and we all hate to disappoint those around us. Sometimes we simply don’t want to admit we simply cannot manage it all. But saying no is extremely important for not only your time management, but mental health and wellbeing too. The truth is, we cannot say yes to everything all the time. When we bite off more than we can chew, it can cause stress and anxiety in our lives. Sometimes saying no is important for your sanity. By not taking on too much, and learning when to say no, you will improve your time management and be able to focus on what is most important. Saying no when necessary and removing an overwhelming quantity of tasks allows us to focus more on quality instead.
9 | Control Distractions by Setting Time Frames
When I am struggling with getting an important task done, I set a specific amount of time to work on that task. So, for example, I tell myself I need to sit down and work on the task for 25 minutes, and then I can go get my coffee, take my break, scroll through Social Media, etc.
I have even heard of some people setting a timer for tasks. I don’t personally use the timer method because in most cases, once I start the task, I tend to get in the zone, and I end up continuing for longer then the intended 25-30 minutes.I feel like a timer would remind me that it has been 25 minutes and I would remember I technically completed my commitment, and be more inclined to stop. But, even though a lot of the time I continue the task longer than the intended time, that is not always the case. Sometimes I do my 25, and then I move on. And that is totally okay, I committed to something productive for 25 minutes, and now I can move on and come back to it later when I am in a more productive mood.
10 | Start Using a Planner
So, like I mentioned I like to start my day with a to-do list, but I also rely heavily on my planner. With a planner, I like to plan out both my month and my weeks. I like to use a planner that has a monthly weekly, and daily layout. At the beginning of every month it is super easy to go in and write down my whole month in the monthly layout (including deadlines, events, birthdays, bills, etc.). By doing that, I can quickly glance at the month ahead and have an idea of each week and what I have going on.
But, I also utilize the weekly and daily layouts which are broken down by hours. Each Sunday or Monday I go through my whole week and write down what I know is happening. For example if I have a meeting, or a conference call, I wrote all that in. If I have deadlines, I wrote those in. Then, throughout the week, as things come up, I add those into my planner as well.
Since I started using a planner in my life, my time management and organization has increased drastically!
Here are some great planners to get you started:
11 | Review Weekly Progress and Prep for the Week Ahead
A great habit to get into is to review your to do list, calendar, and planner on a monthly basis to evaluate what you’ve accomplished and what is still pending or needing to be completed. This will help you plan and organize for the week ahead. This is also a great way for you to identify which tasks may have taken longer than expected so you can better plan or prioritize your time moving forward.
12 | Make Time for Breaks and Down Time
Now, something I want to touch on, is the importance of down time and breaks. There are days, weeks, even months, that are so busy, we often have no time for ourselves. And, while it happens to most of us, it definitely isn’t a habit you should get into.
When we get into the habit of go, go, go without taking any breaks or time for ourselves, we run the risk of burnout. Burnout will impact your time management in a big way, so you are far better off taking an hour a day to relax, or take the weekend and enjoy some time for yourself.
Obviously being a hard worker is great, but it is also important to take a breaks so we do not burn out and end up taking a week off because we get ill, or even worse, have to take a stress leave because we took on too much! Never taking any time for R&R can have terrible results long term on not only your time management, but also your health & wellbeing.
Related Reading: How to Recover From Burnout: 8 Tips for Getting Back on Track
13 | Spend Time Tidying Your Space Every Day
As a new mom, I was struggling to find balance to get everything accomplished while also caring for a tiny human full time. I started leaving all my house cleaning until she went to bed, and a lot of the time it would take up almost the whole evening and by the time I was done, I just wanted to go to bed myself. I would end up with no time to just relax and have some ”me time”. It got overwhelming. So, I started to try and tidy in small amounts throughout the day, little things here and there, and when bedtime rolled around, I had more time to just relax. Spending a little time each day tidying your space, will not only keep your house (or work space) clutter free, it will also allow you to spend time on yourself or more important tasks during the times that you should be doing those things (weekends, evenings after work, during your baby’s nap times, etc.).
14 | Accomplish Something Small
When you’re feeling unproductive or having a hard time getting things done, start with a small, easy task. A lot of the time when I have to tackle a task I don’t particularly want to do, I tend to procrastinate. But, what I have come to realize is that by start with something easy or more enjoyable, I get into a more productive mindset, and it makes it easier to just continue on with other tasks.
This can work in any area of your life, professional or personal. If you’re having a day at work where you don’t feel like doing anything, start with something small like answering a few emails, or completing some data entry (or whatever your job entails), and then try moving on to something larger on your to-do list.
There you have it! 14 easy time management tips to help you improve your productivity and organization! What are your favorite time management tips? Let me know in the comments below!