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10 Essential Hacks For Time Management

10 Essential Hacks For Time Management
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Looking for useful time management hacks? Let’s look at ten easy hacks that you can use right away. Not only will they increase your productivity, they’ll also give you the confidence you need to achieve your goals.

1. Know Your Goals, and Organize Them by Their Value and Priority.

How many goals do you have? If you don’t have any goals, create at least one goal today. Goals are essential for effective time management. Perhaps you have too many goals. If so, organize them. You need one goal for each primary area of your life: a goal for your work or business, another for your health, and another to manage your finances, for example.

On any given day, one goal will have the most value and top priority. For many people, this is a work or a business goal. However, if you’re overweight, or have medical challenges, your health becomes your highest value goal, and your top priority. You can’t achieve anything, nor can you manage your time, if you’re in poor health.

2. Prioritize: Focus on One Important Task and Work on It Today.

You’ve created goals. However, you can’t “do” a goal. You can only do tasks that will lead to achieving your goal. Decide on your highest value goal, and work on an important task for that goal today.

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If you can, work on that task before you do anything else. Let’s say your most valuable goal today is improved health. Your most important task is to exercise. Get it done early. Many gyms open early, so you may be able to get your workout done before you go to work.

If your most valuable goal is a business goal, you’re aiming for promotion, for instance, then your one important task may be to complete a presentation. Get to work early, so you can get the presentation done before you read your emails.

3. Know Your Top Priority in Each Moment.

Prioritize your working day before you leave home in the morning. Your To Do list may be endless. Choose your top five tasks for the day, prioritize them, and work on them in order of priority.

If you’re not sure what to work on next, ask yourself what your top priority is in the moment. It’s rare that your top priority will be “Check Facebook.”

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4. Set a Dollar Value on Your Time.

Time management becomes easier if you know what an hour of your time is worth. If your time is worth $600 an hour, it’s useful to know that the 30 minutes you just spent on Facebook is worth $300.

If you’re not sure what your time’s worth, guess, or ask your boss. If you’re your own boss, you know how much it’s worth. Keep a time log so that you know where your time is going. Then cut down on useless activities.

5. Nothing’s Perfect. Just Get It Done. Your Best in That Moment Is OK.

You want to do your “best.” However, perfectionism wastes time. Nothing’s perfect. If you’re prone to perfectionism, be aware of it, and force yourself to let things go.

6. Get It Done in Half the Time You Think You Need.

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    If you’re a perfectionist, try setting hard deadlines. For example, let’s say it usually takes you three hours to complete a task. Set yourself a deadline of 90 minutes. You’ll be surprised that you usually complete the task within the deadline.

    7. Schedule Planning and Thinking Time Each Day.

    You’ll save many minutes each day when you have a prioritized task list and plan a project before you start working on it.

    Schedule time to plan your projects and tasks each day, either in the evening, or in the morning before you get to work. When you separate your planning time from your tasks’ execution, you get more done faster.

    8. Turn Big Goals Into Small Daily Tasks.

    As we’ve said, you can’t “do” goals. You can only do tasks. As soon as you set a goal, work out what it will take to achieve your goal. Then, turn those steps into projects and tasks. Create deadlines for each project, and create small daily tasks so you complete each project quickly.

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    9. If Someone Else Can Do It: Delegate.

    You’ve worked out how much an hour of your time is worth. Look at all the tasks you complete each day, and decide which ones you shouldn’t be working on. For example, let’s say you’ve set a dollar value on your time of $300 per hour. If it takes you an hour to go through your emails each day, is that the best use of your time? Perhaps you could outsource your email management.

    10. Set a Deadline for Every Project.

    We’ve discussed deadlines. Deadlines are essential. If someone else sets your deadlines, try setting your own deadline before the official deadline. This won’t be easy if you’re in an office where deadlines are looked on as general guidelines, but it will improve your time management.

    Try these time management hacks. They’re practical, and they work. You’ll be amazed at how much more productive you become.

    Featured photo credit: elcovs via Photopin via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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