Time is rolling away for all of us independently of how we use it or how we feel. Whether you are lying on the couch scrolling through social media feeling miserable, or you are feeling productive and working towards your goals, time goes away. Time is running out for all of us; you can’t control time passing, but what you do have control over is your energy. There are ways for you to be more energised and focused. In this article, I will present to you 8 of the best time management strategies to get things done and feel more productive. But first, let’s understand better what time management is.
What is time management?
Time management is the ability to organise and plan your tasks in a specific amount of time. It helps you prioritise your tasks to get more done in less time. This process consists of having control of the time and enables you to work smarter. If you start managing your time correctly, you will improve your productivity and efficiency.
Now, let’s look at my favourite time management strategies to get things done.
Be clear about what you need to do
Clarity goes hand in hand with execution. When we do not have clear tasks, we have space that allows distractions. Furthermore, sometimes we have big goals, which can feel overwhelming because we haven’t created a clear path to achieve them. Breaking our goals into small and simple action steps will make us feel capable of achieving our desired outcomes.
Prioritise what’s urgent and important
Organise your tasks into four groups: urgent and important, not urgent but important, urgent but not important, and not urgent and not important. The tasks added to the ‘urgent and important’ group should get done as soon as possible; these tasks are the ones you should prioritise. For the tasks that went into the category ‘not urgent, but important’, you should plan and schedule specific times to do them later. The tasks that you put in the group’ urgent, but not important’ should be delegated to someone else if possible. And finally, the tasks added to the ‘not urgent and not important’ category should be eliminated. Being productive is not about doing it all is about doing the right things that are important to you.
Make a plan
When left with unscheduled time, our brain will suggest pleasurable distractions that will provide entertainment but will not bring us closer to achieving our goals. Make sure you make a plan in advance, and you hold yourself accountable for it. Accountability is huge here; as adults, we need to be our own parents. We all have a child-like part of ourselves who just wants to do what’s easy and fun. It’s essential to plan our time off too, but that time will feel much better when it functions as a well-deserved reward for our efforts.
Have a clock visible
We all have an internal clock, but our sense of time can, at times, get distorted. Sometimes our perception of time can trick us, making us believe that we have plenty of time when we are actually running late. That’s why it is better always to have a clock visible while working so we don’t lose track of time.
If a regular clock-looking sounds anxiety-provoking, you can aim for a time check when you leave your workstation, to go to the bathroom or to have lunch, for instance, and when you return to your workstation. This will also make it possible for you to realise how much time you spend on these outside activities.
Thomas Buser and Noemi Peter conducted an experiment at the University of Amsterdam to examine how multitasking affects performance. The sample consisted of 218 subjects of both genders. The researchers found that multitasking significantly lowers performance equally for both men and women, despite the stereotype that women are better at multitasking. Buser, T., & Peter, N. (2012). Multitasking. Experimental Economics, 15, 641–655. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10683-012-9318-8
Every time you shift your focus, it takes a few moments to be fully present on task again. Allocate some time for different activities. You can have 5 minutes every 25 minutes allocated to your distractions by using the Pomodoro Technique, which is a simple method of using a timer and having two five-minutes breaks every hour. If we force ourselves to stay focused on a task for prolonged periods of time, our attention reserves can get depleted, and we can get into an unproductive workflow. By giving ourselves short breaks, we replenish our ability to stay focused and productive.
With our smartphone always next to us, it can be hard to concentrate. So when you start working on an important task, set the plane mode on your phone so you can take a break from all the notifications that usually get your attention. And If you are working from home, choose a quiet space and let everyone in your house know that you are working and are not to be disturbed unless it is really urgent. This way, you will build a space free of distractions so that you can focus on important tasks.
Review your day
When you finish your workday, take some time to analyse what you have done and how you can improve for your next day. It is important to see what you have accomplished for the day and how you did it. Self-reflection will help you learn what works best for you and what doesn´t work. Self-reflection or even journaling practices can be great ways to spot patterns and connect the dots between information. Take the time with yourself to think so that you can improve your routine and achieve your daily goals.
Set achievable deadlines
Be realistic with yourself. Set deadlines so that you can deliver your tasks; otherwise, if your deadlines are too short, once you realise you can’t finish your tasks on time, you will feel frustrated. The opposite is also a problem. Setting deadlines too far away in time will make you procrastinate because if you are like most of us, the more time you have, the more you will procrastinate to start. So, set achievable deadlines so that you get stuff done on time. This will also help your self-esteem, the view you have of yourself, and your self-efficacy, which is your trust in your abilities
Time management can be hard for some people, but it is an essential skill if you want to achieve your goals. If you feel overwhelmed with your tasks and don’t know where and how to start getting things done, performance coaching can help you. One of the benefits of performance coaching is that it will help fast-track your results. I have been studying this subject extensively, and if you receive my coaching services, you will get access to my knowledge, support and encouragement to discover and achieve what is important to you. I can help you simplify your to-do list, prioritise effectively and produce more energy to do your tasks. Learn more about my performance coaching here.