Good time management is a skill that every person needs, be it a CEO, freelancer, or even someone who is in-between jobs. Properly managing your time can lead to a successful career, better work performance, and reduced stress levels.
Mastering this skill can benefit your well-being, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Some people even turn to a time management/life coach to help get their mind in order so that they can use their time well and improve their quality of life. This is how time management helps in your success.
The Importance of Time Management
You shouldn’t be a slave to time — instead, you should control it. This will help you meet deadlines, not be late for meetings or appointments, and reduce the constant feeling that you have not done enough in the day. You’ll be much more satisfied with yourself.
This skill has a positive snowball effect because the less stressed you are, the more likely you are to make better decisions, and in doing so, you will accomplish more — sometimes, even by doing less. For example, instead of going with the first, complicated idea to complete a task, you would have time to allow yourself to figure out an easier way to do the same task as well as to note any potential mistakes before they happen. Time management can improve your quality of life, not only in terms of work but also socializing.
Everyone has the same number of hours in a day, but some people use them more wisely. Others often struggle to make the most of their day. The thing about any skill is that it takes a while to set in. However, practice makes us as close to perfect as we can get. This applies to continually organizing your time in the long term as well.
Principles of Time Management
There are some things that make it easier to gain control over time, i.e., the principles of time management. They are the following:
- Be tidy. A tidy space can make a tidy mind. However, this rule does not only apply to your physical workspace — it includes the digital space too. Having your files neatly organized will clear your head and make more room for your work. Here’s how to effectively organize your workspace.
- Do not procrastinate. This is a harder rule to follow. It would be wise to get rid of or avoid items that you know will distract you. Another idea is to figure out why you are getting distracted when you have a deadline approaching.
- Do not multitask. Most people are not good at it. The reasoning is that we need to focus on one task at a time and not do too much at once. Doing a lot of different things can become confusing quickly.
- Prioritize your tasks. You can make a to-do list. Your tasks should fall into two categories — Important and can do later. The important tasks are usually those with deadlines. A task with an earlier deadline should be done first, and then, you can go down the list according to your priorities. Can-do-later tasks are mostly personal projects/long-term goals. These can be done a bit at a time, not all at once until the deadline is nearer.
- Don’t just go, go, go. Take a break. This is not the same as procrastinating. It is a good idea to allow yourself a break to clear your head. This way, when you get back to work, you will be thinking clearly and be able to do the task at hand a lot better. Plus, breaks allow you to look after yourself. They can boost your energy. Overworking can lead to burnout, which is a result of poor time management.
Skills You Need
While time management is a skill in itself, there is a set of sub-skills that make it. These are:
- Learn to delegate. If you can delegate parts of your tasks to people that you trust and know will handle it well, then you should. However, it is important to keep the channels of communication open so that they can get back to you if they need more instructions or they are unsure of something. Plus, telling them what you need upfront is always smart as well as giving feedback.
- Coping skills are important. The truth is that not everything always goes according to plan, and sometimes, you have to adapt. If things go wrong, you can make a plan to sort it out and get back on track. This strategy is better than dwelling on it and further wasting your time, which will lead to more stress.
- Stress management is something that you must learn. A little pressure at work can be good since it can allow you to focus and get moving. However, too much of it can lead to stress, which can stop you from working. Learning how to handle stress is part of time management, and they are often intertwined with one another. That is why it is important to have breaks and even more so to look after yourself.
- Good organization and patience are a must. You need patience so that you do not get easily frustrated and organization so that you know exactly what to do and when. Organization can also be connected to tidying up your digital and physical workspaces. If you know where something is, you can get to it quicker, which will save you from stress.
Tips to Manage Time Effectively
Here are six tips/reminders to help you with sorting out your time:
- Prioritize your tasks according to deadlines. As mentioned, this can be done with a to-do list, and you can cross off any task when it is done. It can give you a sense of achievement and being on the right track. If your problem is procrastination, know how to solve that problem.
- Make a weekly or daily to-do list. If you have a lot of tasks, then creating a weekly list can help you focus your time and sort out your priorities. However, you should also leave space in the week in case something comes up, such as a need to redo an assignment or something you must correct. Also, make time for breaks as well as for proper meals. Don’t forget to factor in some time for exercise.
- Do one task at a time. Avoid multitasking. While it is tempting to do as many things as possible at once, studies show that going from one task to another and back reduces productivity. Plus, you are more likely to make more mistakes.
- Perfection does not exist, so just get it done. This tip can be a difficult one for many people, but it is true. Instead of spending too much time on creating the perfect product, it is better to do the best that you can and get it done. You can always get feedback if you have to do more or change something. The point is, don’t let perfect stand in the way of done.
- Learn to say “no.” This is not done to be rude but to let people know that you do not have the time to do any more tasks or that their project is not worth it. It may sound harsh, but it is true. While you may want to work more and help out, you may not be able to.
- Use your free time/breaks to relax, but keep it short. Taking breaks is good, but extending them is procrastinating. Once you feel recharged, get back to work. Try to limit breaks to about ten to 15 minutes — enough for a cup of coffee and to ease your mind.
Time management is an essential skill in life, but it takes effort. So keep trying and do not beat yourself up if you fall off. Just recharge and get back on track. Managing your time will definitely bring you success.