In the modern world, time management skills are critically important. With all the information that we are receiving, we must create hard priorities to make time for things that really matter.
Each of us has the same amount of time in a day, 24h. But we all use it very differently and that compounds to our lives being completely different as a result.
The most crucial aspect of managing your time is figuring out what you need to accomplish in that time frame.
Take the time to sit down and make a list of everything you would like to get done. Then, rank your list by priority. Listing and prioritizing your tasks allows you to see what you need to accomplish now and what is inessential in the grand scheme of things.
Write your list and make #1 the most important project that you must get done. Next, assign lower numbers to extra items that would be nice to accomplish but don’t need to get done. Next, add in dates of when you plan to complete each item. Try to set your dates a little ahead of the actual deadline. That way, your timeline is flexible. By routinely working ahead you prevent anxiety and stress relating to deadlines.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with the paper and pencil route if you find crossing things off the list particularly satisfying. Just make sure to take a picture of the list in case it gets misplaced later on.
Having a list of tasks like this helps you keep in mind what needs to be done and keep you accountable to your own timetable. You will spend some time initially getting your lists made, but if you make prioritized lists a habit, you will save yourself time in the long run.
Set Realistic Goals
While you are setting your priorities, you need to set realistic goals for yourself.
We would all love to get all our work done, finish all the chores, run the five errands we keep putting off, and master some new yoga poses while losing 10 pounds. That simply isn’t likely to happen. Certainly not all in one day, at the very least! So it is essential to set realistic goals for yourself. You are only human, after all!
When you set unrealistic goals, you will not accomplish them. When you find yourself not achieving your goals, you may think, what is the point of this list anyways? When you feel yourself losing structure and falling short of deadlines, take a second to think about what you are asking of yourself.
Is your schedule reasonable? Does it leave time for you to relax? If not, you should reevaluate.
The final step to creating your To-Do List is to assign a few tasks to each day–all while being careful to be realistic about what you can manage. Assigning one big task and a few minor, easy to accomplish tasks to each day will make everything seem far more manageable.
Create a Workspace
One of the most significant issues people run into when working from home is that they don’t feel like they are at work. Pushing off your work to do chores around the house might seem like a responsible thing to do, but it can hurt your productivity.
When working from home, it is hard to resist the temptation of talking with your family or puttering around. One of the best ways to combat these urges is by setting up a designated workspace. This helps show yourself and others that you are working.
If you have the space for it, a home office is ideal for this. A home office creates space away from your usual comfy spot. A professional space with a closed door is an excellent way to politely alert others that you should not be disturbed at this time. Your brain will begin associating this room with work time and make it easier to shift into a productive mindset every time you sit down at your desk.
Studies show having a clean workspace can increase an individuals’ happiness and productivity. So, having a designated office that is kept tidy will keep your brain from fretting about doing your dishes or getting another load of laundry done.
If you don’t have the luxury of a designated home office, don’t worry! You can still recreate the feeling in other ways. Try having a designated workspace and use noise-canceling headphones to avoid distraction. When your environment is professional, your productivity will soar.
Often it feels like we must juggle several tasks at once. You may even feel that you are more focused this way. Unfortunately, the data disagrees. Scientific studies have shown that multitasking significantly hampers your performance on both tasks.
To improve your time management skill and productivity, do each task individually. This might seem too simple to be true, but taking things one at a time can change your workflow for the better.
Instead of trying to respond to your emails while typing up that report, you have due tomorrow, stop and take a breath. You will get your tasks done faster if you work on your to-do list in order. Give each project the attention it deserves! You are only at your best when you give a task 100%.
The same goes for work and play. Don’t divide your attention between a fun app and a work task. You will waste a lot of time if you try to mix work and play. By devoting your energy to work, you finish your tasks faster, freeing up your time for a little slacking off.
By creating a workspace, you have helped ward off the distractions that working from home might present. However, that is not all of the distractions that a remote worker has to be wary of.
That’s right, I’m talking about your tech. The internet is one of mankind’s greatest assets. Unfortunately, it is also the single greatest distraction of your life. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, or countless other sites, the web is full of things vying for your attention.
When you are your own boss, you might think, well, why SHOULDN’T I watch this video of a cat knocking things over? That temptation is natural, but it must be overcome. If you are having a hard time ignoring the internet while you work, your technology can help.
Try setting your phone or other devices to “do not disturb” mode while working. Depending on your device settings, this will allow you to receive phone calls and other important work communications. That way, you are still available digitally, but games, social media, and other fun apps are silenced.
Your web browser can help, too!
There are various programs that will allow you to blacklist certain sites during your work hours. Don’t want to be wandering over to watch YouTube videos between 8 AM and 5 PM? LeechBlock has got your back.
Instead of blacklisting sites during your work hours, try putting time constraints on them instead.
The Google Chrome extension like StayFocused can help you manage your time. The extension can limit how much time you spend on certain websites without disabling them completely. That way, you are still allowed to check your social media, but it will cut you off if you linger for too long this will help to boost the overall efficiency of your time management skills.
Do you find yourself yawning all day, reaching for the coffee pot? You might think you need more sleep, but oversleeping can be just as bad for your energy levels.
Oversleeping will give you the same grouchy, tired feeling while also making you feel like you have wasted your day. By going to bed and getting up at a consistent time, your brain and body will naturally sleep deeper, allowing you to awaken refreshed and ready to work.
Morning rituals like making breakfast, showering and getting dressed help your brain switch over to work mode.
You might not see the need for those rituals when you work from home, but the truth is, your mind and body need them to feel refreshed and productive. You are not at your best in your pajamas.
Keep yourself on the right track with your work and playtime, even if your schedule is flexible. We are all creatures of habit. When you make work your habit, you will find it comes naturally to you.
Get Help When You Need It
Do you consider yourself a perfectionist or a do-it-yourself type? As much as you might feel like you can do everything yourself, you owe it to yourself to ask for help from time to time.
It can be hard asking for help as a self-made professional. The ability to recognize when you need help is a vital time management skill. Sometimes it simply is not possible to do everything at once or by yourself. Challenge yourself to ask for help. You may be surprised to learn just how many people are happy to assist and simply were waiting for you to ask!
Do you have a presentation that you need to polish? Ask one of your friends to help you proofread. Have you fallen behind on your household chores? See if your spouse can handle flipping the laundry while you run to the store.
This is even more crucial in the workplace. Remember that your company and your teammates want things to go well just like you do. Don’t be afraid to ask a coworker or supervisor for a little bit of assistance when you start feeling overwhelmed.
Your team and your boss would rather see a task done right with their help than done poorly by yourself. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but valuable professional skill. By delegating tasks to others and getting help when you can, you will quickly find your productivity soaring.
Set Time Blocks
What worked really good for me is setting time blocks and focusing on a big task. For example I usually go in 3 hours blocks. Morning is a great example when you can implement it.
The ideas to completely concentrate on a task (or a prepared list of tasks). Put away your phone, close the door, minimalize the potential distractions and really get into it.
At times, your mind will start to wonder. Gently move it back to the main goal that you need to do. A lot of impulsive behavior will be involved. You will suddenly feel the urge to check LinkedIn or read an email. Do not do it.
For the time duration of these three hours, you are completely focused on the list of tasks. It is estimated that it can take approximately 20 minutes to get the human brain back on track after there was a distraction in the middle of the work. Got distracted two times? Well, you wasted close to 40 minutes.
There are of course varieties, you can make 1 hour blocks with a small pause after each one. Or make 4 hours blocks, but the bigger the block is the more difficult it gets to really think deeply about what you need to be doing now.
So you have been consistently hacking away at that To-Do List that used to feel impossible, but something just feels missing. It isn’t as satisfying as you had hoped it would be.
Don’t worry! That is completely normal. You knew going in that these tasks probably wouldn’t be enjoyable, and that is why managing your time is so important. You have worked so hard in order to have time for the things you want to do!
However, saving all of the fun for the very end is a surefire way to burn out. If you never take a break, you will find that carefully checked to-do list at the bottom of your trash can. Make sure you are rewarding yourself along the way.
Did you manage to reply to all of your emails? Good job! Permit yourself to read a few pages of a good book. Did you finish the final touches on your presentation? Excellent work! Reward yourself with a stroll around the block to soak up some sun.
By rewarding yourself, you are getting your work done while also allowing opportunities for your mind and body to relax and destress. You may even find that these small breaks allow you to come back to tasks even more focused and with new inspiration that you may not have otherwise had.
As with everything that is related to self-development and productivity, time management skills are mostly a habit. At first, you might find it difficult to schedule your day and ignore the distractions, but after a week or two, it will become second nature.
The main advantage of sticking with the schedule is that soon you will start noticing all the tasks that you managed to accomplish at that time and that will drive you forward.
Start implementing these tips today and see the tasks disappear from your to do list very quickly!
Careful planning really helps. Take charge of your day by making a schedule and living that day by the schedule.
Yes. Time management skills are essentially habits that you can implement through practice.
Yes. Plan carefully the tasks, and focus on them. It is hard to do more when your mind is constantly wondering around. So focus, and you will be more productive.