Time management is a term that we hear frequently in our daily lives, but few people understand its significance or how to manage their time effectively.
We spend at least six to nine hours per day sleeping, and another couple of hours preparing and eating meals. Add three to four hours of commuting time, traffic delays, and other minor unexpected challenges. We only have 10 to 12 hours, sometimes less, to complete our work tasks, study, manage a hobby, care for ourselves, socialize, and spend time with our families. Events and special occasions are a completely different story.
If we want to manage a busy schedule in a short amount of time without becoming overly stressed, we must develop good time management skills.
In this article, you will learn what time management is and how to use it to make the most of your day.
Table of Contents
- What Is Time Management?
- Why Does Time Management Matter?
- 15 Practical Time Management Skills
- 1. Set SMARTer Goals
- 2. Prioritize
- 3. Use the Power Hour
- 4. Batch Similar Tasks Together
- 5. Delegate Tasks
- 6. Schedule Your To-Dos
- 7. Set up Deadlines
- 8. Block Out Distractions
- 9. Overcome Procrastination
- 10. Stop Multitasking
- 11. Learn to Say No
- 12. Leverage
- 13. Track Your Time Spent
- 14. Take Regular Breaks
- 15. Deal With Stress Wisely
- Bottom Line
What Is Time Management?
Time management is the process of planning and organizing how much time you devote to specific activities, tasks, or projects in order to maximize productivity, efficiency, and success. It is an important skill that allows people to make the most of their day and achieve their goals in the limited time they have.
On the other hand, time management is not just about trying to cram as many tasks into a day or using every minute of your time productively, as I have discussed in 8 Misconceptions of Time That Make You Less Productive. It’s also not about being too rigid or inflexible with your schedule, or sacrificing your health and well-being to get more done.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to time management. What works for one person may not work for another, so it’s critical to find a time management strategy that suits your specific needs and circumstances.
Also, keep in mind that interruptions and unforeseen events may happen, and that you must be flexible and adaptable to deal with these changes.
“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” – Peter F. Drucker
This quote from the father of management thinking, Peter Drucker, emphasizes the importance of time management as a foundational skill for success in all aspects of life. If we do not manage our time effectively, it becomes difficult to achieve our goals and manage other important aspects of our lives, such as our career, relationships, and health.
Why Does Time Management Matter?
Effective time management is essential for a variety of reasons, as I discussed in The Importance of Time Management.
Effective time management can help you make better decisions about how to spend your time, which tasks to prioritize, and when to complete them.
The ability to effectively manage time can also help you increase productivity by accomplishing more in less time. You can reduce your stress levels by using time wisely and avoiding procrastination, missed deadlines, and last-minute rushes. In fact, according to a TimeWatch poll, 91% of respondents agreed that better time management would reduce stress at work and increase productivity, while 86% thought it would improve task focus.
Besides, effective time management also helps you in achieving your goals by allocating enough time to work on them on a regular basis. Setting clear priorities and focusing on the most important tasks will allow you to make progress toward your goals and achieve them on time.
Another important aspect of time management is that it allows you to achieve a better work-life balance. You can balance your personal and professional obligations and achieve a better work-life balance by setting priorities and managing your time effectively.
As a result, mastering time management skills can help you increase your effectiveness, improve your quality of life, and achieve greater success in all aspects of your life.
15 Practical Time Management Skills
To get you started, I’ve compiled a list of 15 time management skills derived from our Time Mastery Framework that will help you increase your productivity.
1. Set SMARTer Goals
A SMARTer goal is not only specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, but it also helps you understand why you want this goal in the first place. As a result, setting SMARTer goals can help you focus on the tasks that are most important to you and avoid wasting time.
You can even track your progress and stay motivated by breaking down goals into smaller and more manageable tasks.
Set SMARTer Goals
Typically, the ability to arrange and execute tasks based on task-related factors such as length, urgency, importance, procedure, and reward is referred to as prioritization.
However, at LifeHack, I teach people to prioritize based on the amount of energy required for a task.
Many productivity strategies out there place a lot of emphasis on time, such as managing your time and planning, and what you can do to manage your time effectively. However, this model is missing an important component: your energy.
Our energy and focus levels fluctuate. Therefore, when our energy is unstable, our ability to manage our time will suffer. Planning a series of high-energy actions, such as proposal writing and idea brainstorming, may appear attractive on paper, but is it sustainable?
To prioritize effectively, consider the mental energy required for the tasks as well as the time constraints so that you do not exhaust all of your energy and become unproductive.
3. Use the Power Hour
The Power Hour is a time management technique that involves setting aside one hour each day to focus on completing your most important tasks.
Begin by determining your most important tasks for the day and your most productive hour. Then, during that hour, eliminate all distractions and focus solely on your task. You can make significant progress and accomplish more in less time by focusing solely on your tasks for one hour.
4. Batch Similar Tasks Together
Batching similar tasks refers to gathering similar activities and completing them in a single session or at the same time. This technique can help optimize the workflow and reduce the time and energy required to switch between tasks.
For example, I categorize my work into five core groups:
- workshop development
- business development
By grouping all of the related tasks together, I can streamline the process and create synergy.
5. Delegate Tasks
Delegating tasks is an effective time-management technique that entails assigning tasks to others who are capable of completing them. Delegation does not imply that you are avoiding your responsibilities. Instead, it means you understand how to properly manage your tasks and take advantage of leverage.
Delegation allows you to focus on higher-priority activities by freeing up time for other important tasks. You can reduce your workload, reduce stress, and increase productivity by delegating tasks.
6. Schedule Your To-Dos
While writing tasks down can help free up mental space and reduce stress, scheduling tasks ensures that tasks are completed on time.
You can better manage your time and avoid wasting time on less important tasks by assigning specific times to tasks. Task scheduling also helps in avoiding procrastination because you are more likely to begin and complete tasks when they are scheduled.
7. Set up Deadlines
Setting deadlines instills a sense of urgency and allows you to concentrate on completing a task or project within a specific timeframe.
Setting a deadline for a task can also facilitate you in breaking it down into smaller, more manageable tasks and creating a timeline for completing each one.
Set up Deadlines
8. Block Out Distractions
Distractions are one of the biggest productivity killers. Distractions such as phone calls, emails, and social media notifications can have a significant impact on your ability to stay focused and complete your work on time.
By blocking out distractions, you can better prioritize your work and allocate your time. This may involve turning off or setting your phone to airplane mode, disabling notifications on your computer, or working in a quiet location free of external interruptions.
Block Out Distractions
9. Overcome Procrastination
Procrastination is the practice of putting off tasks that require immediate attention in favor of less important or non-urgent tasks. It decreases productivity and elevates your stress levels.
Overcoming procrastination can be challenging because the causes of procrastination vary. To overcome procrastination, you must first understand why you procrastinate and address the root cause.
10. Stop Multitasking
Many people believe that multitasking is an efficient way to get things done, but the truth is that we perform better when we focus on one task at a time. When you switch from one task to another, your brain must refocus each time, which can be draining on mental energy and time. As a result, the work is of lower quality and takes longer to complete.
Joshua Rubinstein, Ph.D., Jeffrey Evans, Ph.D., and David Meyer, Ph.D., conducted four experiments in which young adults switched between tasks such as problem solving and geometric object classification. When participants switched from one task to another, they lost time on all tasks.
To improve time management, stop multitasking and start monotasking.
11. Learn to Say No
When a person is unable to say no to requests or demands, they may end up taking on more than they are capable of handling. This can lead to overcommitment and a lack of focus on important tasks.
Many worry that saying no will make them appear selfish, but it is one of the most effective ways to take care of yourself and your time. When you take care of this, you’ll find that you have more energy to devote to the important things that those around you will eventually appreciate.
If you feel like you already have too much work on your plate, start to politely decline new tasks. Also, before agreeing to take on additional work, review your to-do list.
Learn to Say No
Using a small amount of effort to produce a large amount of results is being referred to as leverage. By identifying areas where a small effort can produce significant results, you can effectively manage your time and achieve your goals more efficiently.
While delegating tasks is one method of leveraging time, automation is another effective method. You can save time and focus on more important tasks by automating repetitive or mundane tasks. This can include the use of tools and software to automate tasks like scheduling, data entry, and project management.
13. Track Your Time Spent
Time tracking is a technique for keeping track of how much time is spent on specific tasks or activities. It provides insights into how time is spent, identifying areas of time waste, and allowing adjustments to be made to improve productivity.
When you start tracking your time, you become more conscious of how you spend it. You can then easily identify tasks that take longer than expected and find ways to streamline them or eliminate distractions that keep you from completing them.
14. Take Regular Breaks
While taking breaks when there is a lot of work to do may seem counterintuitive, taking short, strategic breaks can actually help improve productivity.
Breaks allow the brain to rest and recharge, which can help improve focus. People who work for long periods of time without taking breaks may become fatigued and their work may become less effective.
Engage in activities that promote relaxation and rejuvenation when taking breaks. This could include going for a walk, stretching, meditating, or engaging in a fun hobby or activity.
15. Deal With Stress Wisely
People who are stressed are more likely to become distracted, unproductive, and inefficient with their time. They may find it difficult to focus on tasks or even avoid them entirely, resulting in lost time and missed deadlines.
Stress, according to some studies, has a wide range of effects on the human nervous system and can cause structural changes in different parts of the brain. Chronic stress can also cause brain atrophy and weight loss.
Whether your stress comes from work or personal obligations, the key is to figure out what works best for you when it comes to lowering your stress response. Try a few breathing techniques for quick stress relief. These take only a few minutes and have been shown to reduce stress-inducing hormones.
Manage Your Stress
Time management is a critical skill that you can learn to improve your productivity and achieve your goals.
By developing the time management skills listed above, you will be able to use your time more effectively, prioritize your tasks, and ultimately accomplish more in less time. Ultimately, you can reduce stress, improve your work-life balance, and live a more fulfilling life.
Featured photo credit: Brad Neathery via unsplash.com
|||^||Britannica: Peter F. Drucker|
|||^||TimeWatch: New Time Management Statistics in 2022|
|||^||National Library of Medicine: Factors affecting individual task prioritization in a workplace setting|
|||^||London School of Management Education: Delegation: The Impact of Delegation and its Benefits|
|||^||Psychology Today: Do To-Do Lists Work?|
|||^||The Guardian: The Power of Deadlines|
|||^||American Psychological Association: Multitasking: Switching costs|
|||^||Cleveland Clinic: Why Downtime Is Essential for Brain Health|
|||^||National Library of Medicine: The impact of stress on body function: A review|
|||^||Front Psychol.: The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults|