Do you find yourself suffering from time management deprivation?
Deprived of working on your business? Perhaps, from having fun? Or, even working on a creative project?
I’m here with some good and bad news. Here’s the bad news. You can’t retrieve time lost. It’s terminal. As for the good news, you can get plenty of it!
Would you like to know how?
Follow any or all of these 17 time management tips.
Anyway, let’s get rolling. First, we’re going to freeze time to create a snowball.
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Complete The Most Important Tasks First
Create A Snowball Effect
This is the most important point on the list. Therefore, we’ve already created a snowball effect.
As we roll, we approach the next most important tip.
Create Organizing Systems And Templates
Templates take time to build. It’s easy to wonder if they’re worth the investment. The short answer: absolutely. Editing a template takes less time than formatting something from scratch. It’s the difference between copying and pasting some text, or retyping it.
Since we’re on the topic of creating templates and organizing systems.
Here’s a system we need before you can see the savings.
Budget Your Time Management Like You Would Your Money
We have 24 hours in a day.
With 6+ hours of each day, you’re sleeping. At least 15+ minutes you’re using the restroom. 67 of those minutes you’re eating. 4 min you’re brushing your teeth. You can’t forget to fit in breaks and family time into that budget as well.
Okay, so you’ve invested at least 7-11 hours into our 24 hour day so far. What should you do with the rest of your time?
You don’t have to go crazy as I did above. All that you need is a simple budget. To keep yourself aware of where your time is being spent.
When budgeting, you first need to do this.
Reveal Your Time Thieves
Like expenses we incur regularly, we cash in our time for the activities we do.
Whether it’s browsing videos of screaming goats on Youtube, or driving without direction. Time expenses can add up and bring your balance to zero.
I have a list of time tracking tools you can download here.
However, note that you are also investing time when tracking the expenses of your time.
Short and simple point. Let’s move on.
Another way to determine what’s devouring your precious time is.
Download Good Habits And Uninstall The Bad
Who doesn’t love their vices? Drinking, smoking, binging streaming services, and more!
But do you want to know something?
Those habits also suck your time into a black hole.
Here are some examples:
- It takes 5-9 minutes to finish a single cigarette.
- After a night of losing your memory at a club, it’ll take you a few days to recover from that pesky hangover.
- Binging could take up to 12 hours. Depending on how determined you are.
- Picking your nose could take a whole minute if you’re diving for gold.
I’d be a hypocrite if I said I didn’t have any bad habits. That’s how I’m so detailed with those examples.
Anyway, you need to observe how much time these bad habits take. Either reduce the time invested in them or quit them all-together.
Rather than taking part in bad habits that make you feel like shit, in the long run, consider some good habits.
Spending time doing a time budget.
Spending that extra time with your family and—
Decluttering And Organizing
This Includes Files, Messages, And Emails
Could be a messy bed. Perhaps, it’s that pile of papers spread throughout your desk.
Or it could be.
Files on your computer.
To effectively manage your time and be productive each day, you have to create the right environment. This involves eliminating useless clutter. Setting up an effective filing system. Having a nearby place for all of the work items that you use a lot, and utilize workflow management tools to help you create a productive environment.
Back to my original point.
If you work better in a messy environment, ignore this point.
Otherwise, consider taking a few minutes at the least to organize your space. You won’t only find what you need easier. It’ll take less time to get it and you’ll have a lot fewer distractions.
I know you’re thinking about that stack of unorganized papers in front of you.
On the topic of where you’re working.
Figure Out An Optimal Environment
For those who work in a cubicle or from their homes.
The environment that we are surrounded by when working makes a huge impact on our work.
Unless you lack a sense, I’m sure you’re affected by the smells, sounds, touches, and appearance of the arena surrounding you.
Do you prefer the laid back music mixed with voices in the background? If you love the scent of coffee, consider a coffee shop as your environment.
Don’t have the funds to do so?
Optimize your current office to your liking with what you have. Be resourceful.
Do you have a lot of money to spend?
Consider the following to save you even more time.
Learn To Delegate
As your business grows, so do your responsibilities.
Billing, taxes, budgeting, ordering. All of it only inflates as you expand.
What can we do to prevent this from eating up all of your time?
Here are the top things you need to know to delegate efficiently:
- Find to the right person: whoever you’re delegating to should have all the necessary skills and is capable of doing the job
- Provide clear instructions: write down the tasks in a step-by-step manual be as specific as possible
- Define success: be specific about what the expected outcome is and the deadline to have the task completed
Once you’ve figured out what to delegate, there’s another step that we need to take.
Automate if Possible
Technology has finally reached a point where we can automate a lot of our daily operations. By automating, you’ll save a lot of hours per week. You can then use that time for Deep Work or taking breaks.
Putting some of your daily tasks on autopilot is key to working smarter.
Here are some jobs you can automate in under 10 minutes:
- Create canned responses in Gmail canned for emails you keep writing over and over again
- Set reminders on Google Calendar so you never forget anything
- Proofread your writing automatically using Grammarly
- Use Buffer to schedule and automate your social media posts in advance
- Automatically fill online forms using LastPass, saving all your passwords in one place
- Create spreadsheet templates for reports you have to do weekly/monthly
Since we’re on the topic of digital platforms.
Use Keyword Shortcuts for Optimal Time Management
Ask yourself, what takes more time?
Dragging a mouse from one side of the screen to the other.
Clicking two keys and achieving the same results in an instant?
That’s right. Pressing two keys.
Here are some resources which tell you the keyboard shortcuts for different operating systems and programs.
- Microsoft Office
- Adobe Illustrator
- Adobe Photoshop
- Browsers (IE, Firefox, Chrome, etc.)
Phew. Seems like we need a break from all of this information that’s been digested.
Schedule An Off Day
Just like everything else in life, nothing lasts forever. This includes drive and energy.
If you’re a robot like myself, you’re going to need a day to recharge your batteries. Clear your mind and enjoy the fresh air. That way, the next day you get back to work, you’re refreshed and able to work more effectively.
Now we might ask. What do we do now that the workweek approaches?
Set A Time Of The Week To Plan The Coming Week
This one should be straight forward.
During the night of your last break day, use a to-do list like Trello. Figure out what your weekly goals are and type them. Finally, break down those goals into tasks that you need to do each day.
Time management can be as simple as that.
When planning your workweek, here’s an important tip.
Divide Tasks Into 3 Categories
- Tasks that need the most attention.
- The ones that can wait.
- Those that you can take your time with.
You could split your categories further. However, sometimes simplicity is better.
Remember, the tasks that require the most attention, are those which make the biggest impact.
Don’t Strive For Perfection
Yes, we don’t want our work to be compared to trash. Our brands and reputation must exceed our guest’s needs.
However, you can’t be perfect. At least not yet.
Finish a task to where it’s “good enough”. Publish it. Then, whenever you have time to invest, you can fine-tune the details of your design.
Speaking of perfectionism.
Schedule Small Breaks Between Tasks
Unless you’re on a train of momentum. Take a break. It’ll help your time management in the long run.
First, figure out what break time would be optimal for you and the length. Not too long to where you lose track of what you’re doing. Not too short to where you can’t clear your mind for a second.
A good way to determine your break lengths is to–
Organize Work Around Energy Levels
We can’t be full of energy at all times of the day as shown in the GIF above. Unless you’re on a stimulant, which I’m not endorsing.
Therefore, we need to find our most productive times. The time of our peak energy—and work within those periods.
What should we do within our least productive periods?
As mentioned in an earlier bullet:
- Tasks that need to wait.
- Jobs that you can take your time with.
Any of the above could involve checking emails, tidying your desk, stretching. These are best done within our periods of low energy.
In the examples below, we’re going to look at our energy levels like battery levels:
Monday: 25% battery—still recovering from the weekend. Schedule low-demand tasks.
Tuesday, Wednesday: 85-100%—our peak. Schedule the most demanding tasks. Make the most out of the long battery life.
Thursday: 65-75%—retreat toward tasks that don’t use as much battery power.
Friday: 1%—clean and declutter, long-term planning, and relationship building. We’re in battery-saving mode.
Unfortunately, these are only examples of days. Not times of the day. However, some of us work better at night, and some during the early mornings.
What I want you to pull from this point is to map your work and energy levels in a spreadsheet for a couple of weeks. Once you realize productivity patterns, then you can focus on other matters.
Waiting for the completion of your work and energy levels mapping can be complex.
So why not do this?
Make The Most Of Waiting Times
Waiting in line at the DMV? Perhaps, you’re waiting for a bus or for your friend to get ready to go somewhere.
Make the most of this time!
Just because you’re waiting, don’t we have to throw that time away. Capitalize on your opportunity.
There’s plenty one could be doing to utilize this time.
Stretching, checking emails, replying to customers or client inquiries. Posting or getting social media posts ready.
This point is straight forward. You have extra time while waiting.
I can write a book telling you the different ways to be productive. Or small changes one could pull into their life to better manage their time. Why not see what other professionals have done?
Figure Out What Time Management Method Works For You
Above, we have several points leading to our methods. Here are some proven methods that some already use.
The 80/20 rule
The “80/20 Rule,” also known as Pareto’s Principle. It states that 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your work. It’s a way to help prioritize your most important goals.
The “4D” System
- Delete it: Are there consequences of not doing a task at all? Consider the 80/20 rule; perhaps we don’t need to do the task in the first place.
- Delegate it.
- Do it now.
- Defer: If the task is one that we can’t do fast. Also, if it’s not a high priority item, defer it.
Eat the Frog
From Brian Tracey’s book, Eat That Frog.
“If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.”
Your frogs each day are the tasks that will have the biggest impact. Once again, in reference to the 80/20 rule.
Invented by Francesco Cirillo in late 1980.
It’s a time management technique which translates to tomato in Italian. Inspiration for the method came from the tomato timer he used to help him focus while studying.
What you do is set a timer for 25 minutes and work on a single task or project. Once the timer dings, you’ve won one Pomodoro.
Take a brief break and relax for a bit. Afterward, set the timer again.
Go through four Pomodoros, then take a longer break.
Derived from the book 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, written by Peter Bregman.
It works like this. Each morning you need to invest:
- Five minutes deciding what you need to do and what will entice a sense of accomplishment.
- A minute to decide if you’ve been productive.
- An additional 5 minutes to assess what you’ve achieved during the day.
The G.T.D. Time Management System:
- Collect: Gather all the notes and bills cluttering your arena, and condense any appointments, ideas, or tasks.
- Process: 400 times a day, for a few seconds, review these items. Work through each task or appointment in the order in which they appear in your list. Then decide what’s needed.
- Afterward, ask yourself. Can you complete this task? Could it be delegated? Or, do you have to wait to finish it?
- Organize: Toss, file, or add it to a calendar or a to-do list.
- Review: Review the gathered tasks as often as necessary.
- Do: Do what needs to be done.
The steps are as follows:
- Prioritize and define your goals and tasks. Order them by the most important and achievable.
- Organize and construct a plan to complete your tasks.
- Streamline and simplify anything that you can.
- Economize and reduce tasks that aren’t urgent.
- Contribute. Completing tasks and goals should present an opportunity to give back to the community.
C.O.P.E. Time Management Technique
American productivity expert Peggy Duncan invented this technique.
It includes the following steps:
- Clear: Get clear on your goals.
- Organized: Organize everything.
- Productive: Prioritize.
- Efficient: Finish the priority items.
Bonus: Use Speech To Text
If you aren’t a master of typing, it might take a while to regurgitate what you need to.
Here are a few programs that I recommend for speech-to-text.
If you prefer having your text read to you, here are a couple of tools.
From budgeting your time to eliminating expenses. Even delving into other methods used by professionals. This is all that I could offer you at the moment.
I wish you the best of luck with your endeavors!
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