Time Management: The Bread and Butter of Effective People
Do you ever wonder how some people are so successful in life? Sure they’re smart, they’ve got a little good luck, but they also manage their time wisely. Successful people use time management techniques at work and in their daily lives to become the highest achievers. Students, business people, athletes, and project employees, all must understand and implement these skills to get the most out of their time.
When our to do lists get overloaded and the pressure is on, many of us go into a frenzy of activity (this is what we call looking really busy), but this is just an appearance. In this state it is actually very difficult to accomplish much and to accomplish it well. A calm and calculated approach is best to achieve the most. These tips will help you focus and slow down so that you can hurry up and get your work done!
Prioritize: Undoubtedly, you have many things you need to accomplish. Determine which is the most important and start with that, working on it until it is finished. And don’t worry! We all have a to do list the size of an encyclopedia. Even so, it must be widdled down one at a time.
Set Goals: Many of your goals may already be set in stone, but the process to get there probably isn’t. Setting goals can be incredibly motivating. Having specific tasks to work towards feels great and accomplishing it feels even better. Setting up many small goals as a path to the end is a great way to build confidence, build good habits, and get things done.
Set a schedule and use a calendar: Once you’ve got your priorities and your goals laid out, decide how long each of them should take (within reason, don’t overbook yourself) and put all your tasks on a calendar.
Decline projects: If you have the option that is… Think before you accept a new assignment. You may not actually need the extra money; it may not really help you get ahead and, if you bite off more than you can chew, all your projects will suffer. Think before you leap.
Determine rewards and consequences: I’m not saying you’re going to win a prize every time you complete a task, nor are you going to get slapped with a ruler every time you wander off – no, we’re adults here, however, knowing what we will get from a task or what we might lose can act as a great motivator.
Delegate: If there are people at your disposal to help with aspects of the project, by all means use them. There is no reason why you should have to do all the dirty work yourself if you don’t have to. Additionally, the quality of your projects will benefit with some extra eyes.
Create a beginning: There is a big difference between an idea ruminating on the back burner and an idea that has it’s beginnings on paper. Get your projects started and you will find it much easier to get them finished. This can mean sketching an outline of the project, or just doing a little brainstorming and writing a few lines of notes. Either way, having even an idea of the project makes it easier to execute the project.
Educate yourself: Taking the time to learn what you need to know before you get stuck will create a smoother experience. Try not to look things up each time you’re confused, but rather begin the project already prepared by doing your research early on.
Stop multitasking: I know you’ve probably heard otherwise but as researchers, such as the American Psychological Association, understand multitasking better, they say multitasking is a really bad idea, especially when switching to less familiar tasks. Completing one task at a time is the best way to get multiple things done. You may claim, and appear, to be really good at multitasking – you may be clear headed and sharp, and perfectly capable of juggling six things at once – but switching back and forth takes mental time and energy no matter who you are. This includes the little things like answering the phone, checking a quick email, eating snacks. These distractions require you to refocus each and every time and they really add up. While you’re working on a project, put email aside, close your office door, and work on just one project until it is done. Once that is completed you will be clearer and freer and ready to move on to the next project.
Turn off temptations: Namely, the internet, of course. Everybody’s talking about it these days, that the internet is a serious element of distraction. It’s a valuable tool, yes, and sure it’s a lot of fun. It’s not all bad by any means, but “looking stuff up” does suck endless hours from our productivity both at home and in the office. Most of the time spent surfing the web is a waste of time. While you’re working, go offline or at least avoid flipping back and forth from work to internet pages.
Keep track of hours: Analyze just how long it takes you to complete a project. Timesheets.com time tracking software allows you to set a timer to track the time you’re spending on various projects. I challenge you to leave the timer going through each time you stop to read an article, check your email or whatever brief distractions take you away from the job at hand. You’ll be surprised when a job you thought only should take two hours is actually taking you three!
Last but not least, go ahead and take a break. This doesn’t mean switching from work on your computer to a web page on your computer! Breaks are necessary and they are meant to temporarily shift focus so that you can re-focus. Get up and use the restroom or talk to a friend for five minutes. Taking little breaks is just as important to our productivity as is concentrating. Focusing on something for too long can lead to unconscious spacing out. At this point, you don’t even know you’re wasting time. Remember that all of these tips work together to make you a more productive person.