Many of us struggle to effectively manage our time at work or at home. From family commitments, to errands, to project deadlines, time slowly takes over everything we do. But how much of our time is being spent effectively? We all have been guilty of procrastination, yet being able to manage our time efficiently, will help make sure we have enough time for our needs and wants, while also promoting a healthier you, both mentally and physically.
Some general tips for better time management include:
- 7-8 hours of sleep – getting adequate sleep will help ensure your mind remains focused and you are less likely to have bouts of tiredness during the day
- Keep a daily planner – this will help ensure you set aside the right amount of time for your tasks and even help you plan in advance. It is also a written record of your commitments and will help hold yourself accountable for finishing them
- Tackle difficult tasks when you are fresh and alert – if you are not 100% focused on the task at hand, you are more likely to make mistakes or miss things, that can cause you to spend more time correcting things later
- Take breaks when beginning to fade – attention spans vary, so it is important to take appropriate breaks to give you mind some time to recharge
- Physical exercise – by staying physical, you are training your body to endure longer periods of activity
- Delegate – you do not have to do everything yourself and learning how to delegate can help free up time to complete important tasks
- Set aside me time – it is important to take time for yourself and engage in activities you enjoy
Prioritizing your time is a great way for you to better manage your time and help visualize what you should concentrate your efforts on. When prioritizing, be aware of deadlines and prioritize each day, week, and month in terms of projects, task difficulty, and importance. Additionally, set goals, meet them, and then reward yourself to help get yourself motivated.
Being disciplined is also a great way to manage to your time. Discipline involves overcoming procrastination, setting a schedule and sticking to it, and learning when to say “No”. Oftentimes, we put others’ needs before our own, allowing them to take up more and more of our time. Learning how to say “No” to others, whether it is a sign on a cubicle, shutting your office door, or scheduling a set time for communication with others can help you remained focused on your own tasks and limit outside distractions.
Project management is essentially based around time management and ensuring all elements of the project are completed as scheduled. Here are some tips for project management from the time management perspective:
- Define scope – make sure the project scope is well defined to ensure appropriate tasks and deadlines
- Determine all available resources – spending time to identify and research all of the resources you need in the beginning will prevent you from stalling and wasting more time to obtain other resources that were not properly planned for
- Timeline – make sure you create a timeline to hold others and yourself accountable. Gantt charts are a great way to assign tasks and responsibilities, enshrine deadlines, and hold everyone in the project accountable
- Document everything – Make sure to document everything so that if something needs to be revisited or there is a problem, it is easier to backtrack and spend less time trying to figure out who or what was responsible
- Keep communication open – By having open and constant communication, it is easier to identify and solve current or potential problems, saving time in the long-run while also ensuring everyone is on the same page, preventing you from having to spend time repeating yourself or spending more time trying to correct issues related to misunderstandings of goals or responsibilities
Lastly, it is important to create goals as an essential part of effective time management. Having goals forces you to budget your time appropriately to meet those goals. However, just having goals is not enough. Make sure your goals are SMART:
Specific – broad goals can be overwhelming and may allow for more distractions while you try to complete many different aspects of the goal without ever fully completing anything
Measurable – Goals that have some quantitative aspect that you can pinpoint are much easier to achieve and allow you to track progress and work towards an ultimate end
Attainable – Your goals should have have some aspect that is actually attainable and you can take away once you have completed your goal
Relevant – Make sure your goals are relevant to your wants and needs, which helps serve as intrinsic motivation