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10 Essential Hacks For Time Management

10 Essential Hacks For Time Management

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 September 28, 2020

    How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

    How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

    There’s no denying that goals are necessary. After all, they give life meaning and purpose. However, goals don’t simply achieve themselves—you need to write an action plan to help you reach your goals.

    With an action plan, you’ll have a clear idea of how to get where you want to go, what it will take to get there, and how you’ll find the motivation to keep driving forward. Without creating a plan, things have a way of not working out as you waver and get distracted.

    With that in mind, here’s how you can set goals and action plans that will help you achieve any personal goal you’ve set.

    1. Determine Your “Why”

    Here’s a quick experiment for you to try right now: Reflect on the goals you’ve set before. Now, think about the goals you reached and those you didn’t. Hopefully, you’ll notice a common theme here.

    The goals you were successful in achieving had a purpose. Those goals you failed to accomplish did not. In other words, you knew why you put these goals in place, which motivated you to follow through.

    Simon Sinek, author of Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Finding Purpose for You and Your Team, explains:

    “Once you understand your WHY, you’ll be able to clearly articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and to better understand what drives your behavior when you’re at your natural best. When you can do that, you’ll have a point of reference for everything you do going forward.”

    That, in turn, enables better decision-making and clearer choices.

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    I’ll share with you a recent example of this in my life. Earlier this year, I decided to make my health a bigger priority, specifically losing weight. I set this goal because it gave me more energy at work, improved my sleep, and helped me be a better father—I really didn’t care for all that wheezing every time I played with my kids.

    Those factors all gave me a long-term purpose, not a superficial short-term goal like wanting to look good for an event.

    Before you start creating an action plan, think about why you’re setting a new goal. Doing so will guide you forward on this journey and give you a North Star to point to when things get hard (and they inevitably will).

    2. Write Down Your Goal

    If you really want to know how to create an action plan for goals, it’s time to get your goals out of your head and onto a piece of paper. While you can also do this electronically through an app, research has found that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goal if it’s written down[1].

    This is especially true for business owners. If they don’t schedule their time, it’ll be scheduled for them.[2]

    When you physically write down a goal, you’re accessing the left side of the brain, which is the literal, logical side. As a result, this communicates to your brain that this is something you seriously want to do.

    3. Set a SMART Goal

    A SMART goal pulls on a popular system in business management[3]. That’s because it ensures the goal you’ve set is both realistic and achievable. It can also be used as a reference to guide you through your action plan.

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    Use SMART goals to create a goal action plan.

       

      By establishing a SMART goal, you can begin to brainstorm the steps, tasks, and tools you’ll need to make your actions effective.

      • Specific: You need to have specific ideas about what you want to accomplish. To get started, answer the “W” questions: who, what, where, when, and why.
      • Measurable: To make sure you’re meeting the goal, establish tangible metrics to measure your progress. Identify how you’ll collect the data.
      • Attainable: Think about the tools or skills needed to reach your goal. If you don’t possess them, figure out how you can attain them.
      • Relevant: Why does the goal matter to you? Does it align with other goals? These types of questions can help you determine the goal’s true objective — and whether it’s worth pursuing.
      • Time-bound: Whether it’s a daily, weekly, or monthly target, deadlines can motivate us to take action sooner than later.

      Learn more about setting a SMRT goal here: How to Set SMART Goal to Make Lasting Changes in Life

      4. Take One Step at a Time

      Have you ever taken a road trip? You most likely had to use a map to navigate from Point A to Point B. The same idea can be applied to an action plan.

      Like a map, your action plan needs to include step-by-step instructions on how you’ll reach your goal. In other words, these are mini goals that help you get where you need to go.

      For example, if you wanted to lose weight, you’d consider smaller factors like calories consumed and burned, minutes exercised, number of steps walked, and quality of sleep. Each plays a role in weight loss.

      This may seem like a lot of work upfront, but it makes your action plan seem less overwhelming and more manageable. Most importantly, it helps you determine the specific actions you need to take at each stage.

      5. Order Your Tasks by Priority

      With your action steps figured out, you’ll next want to review your list and place your tasks in the order that makes the most sense. This way, you’re kicking things off with the most important step to make the biggest impact, which will ultimately save time.

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      For example, if you have a sedentary job and want to lose weight, the first step should be becoming even a little more active. From there, you can add more time to your workout plan.

      The next step could be changing your diet, like having a salad before dinner to avoid overeating, or replacing soda with sparkling water.

      Learn these tips to prioritize better: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

      6. Schedule Your Tasks

      Setting a deadline for your goal is a must; it prevents you from delaying the start of your action plan. The key, however, is to be realistic. It’s highly unlikely, for example, that you’ll lose 20 pounds within two weeks. It’s even less likely that you’ll keep it off.

      What’s more, you should also assign tasks a start and end date for each action step you’ve created, as well as a timeline for when you’ll complete specific tasks. Adding them to your schedule ensures that you stay focused on these tasks when they need to happen, not letting anything else distract you.

      For example, if you schedule gym time, you won’t plan anything else during that time frame.

      Beware the temptation to double-book yourself—some activities truly can be combined, like a run while talking to a friend, but some can’t. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can both write and catch up on Netflix simultaneously.

      While you can use a paper calendar or planner, an online calendar may be a better option. You can use it to set deadlines or reminders for when each step needs to be taken, and it can be shared with other people who need to be in the know (like your running buddy or your mentor).

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      7. Stay on Track With Healthy Habits

      Without healthy habits, it’s going to be even more challenging to reach your goal. You could hit the gym five days a week, but if you’re grabbing burgers for lunch every day, you’re undoing all your hard work.

      Let’s say your goal is more career-oriented, like becoming a better public speaker. If you practice your speeches at Toastmasters meetings but avoid situations where you’ll need to be unrehearsed—like networking gatherings or community meetings—you’re not helping yourself.

      You have to think about what will help transform you into the person you want to be, not just what’s easiest or most comfortable.

      8. Check off Items as You Go

      You may think you’ve spent a lot of time creating lists. Not only do they help make your goals a reality, but lists also keep your action plan organized, create urgency, and help track your progress. Because lists provide structure, they reduce anxiety.

      There’s something else special about lists of tasks completed. When you cross off a task in your action plan, your brain releases dopamine[4]. This reward makes you feel good, and you’ll want to repeat this feeling.

      If you crossed out on your calendar the days you went to the gym, you’d want to keep experiencing the satisfaction of each bold “X.” That means more motivation to go the gym consistently.

      9. Review and Reset as Necessary

      Achieving any personal goal is a process. Although it would be great if you could reach a goal overnight, it takes time. Along the way, you may experience setbacks. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, schedule frequent reviews—daily, weekly, or monthly—to see how you’re progressing.

      If you aren’t where you’d hoped to be, you may need to alter your action plan. Rework it so you’re able to reach the goal you’ve set.

      The Bottom Line

      When you want to learn how to set goals and action plans—whether you want to lose weight, learn a new skill, or make more money—you need to create a realistic plan to get you there. It will guide you in establishing realistic steps and time frames to achieve your goal. Best of all, it will keep you on track when you stumble, and we all do.

      More on Goal Action Plans

      Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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