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22 Time Management Lessons You Need To Learn Now

22 Time Management Lessons You Need To Learn Now
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Can’t get it together? Projects not on schedule? Life moving at a snail’s pace?

You may just need to get your mind around managing your time. Following just a few of the time management lessons below can make a huge impact on your projects and your life.

1. Labor over the important parts of your project. 

Avoid fussing over the details until you’ve got the main points and parts down. Most of us don’t complete projects because we get bogged down in the weeds.

2. Say no.

Most things coming your way (via your inbox, for example) are other people’s requests to meet their agendas. You don’t have to say yes. You don’t even have to answer.

3. Stay true to your vision.

Get present to your Why. This may involve a visual display you see every day or a daily meeting with your colleagues or teammates.

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4. Ask people to hold you accountable.

Some people adopt accountability buddies. Others hire coaches. It’s been proven having other humans remind you of what you said you’d do is the key to getting things done.

5. Notice if you are keeping yourself busy or doing things that move your commitments forward.

If you take a look at each of the things you do throughout the day, are they time-consuming activities or actions that make a difference for your projects? Keep your eye on the actions, not on busywork. Course-correct throughout the day.

6. Get up early.

You’ll feel like you got a head start on the day. Early-morning hours are dim and quiet, perfect for clearing your mind, getting present to your priorities, and taking care of yourself before you start work or take care of the kids.

7. Write down your top priorities for the next day.

Keep it to a consistent number, like the top 3 things or top 5 things. Doing so demands that you look into the future. You’ll be at ease because you’ll know what you need to get done when you wake up.

8. Tackle small and large things in a day.

By getting through the smaller tasks, you’ll feel like you accomplished something. That will give you the momentum to do the complicated or time-intensive things.

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9. Work on one thing at a time.

Multi-tasking is overrated. Studies by experts like Clifford Nass at Stanford University show that we are way less productive when we’re jumping between our smartphones and the work before us.

10. Get the “hard” work done as early in the day as you can.

Then you can fool around and “procrastinate” as much as you want.

11. Practice clearing your mind before you work.

Write down the sad stuff. The angry stuff. The happy stuff. All of it.

12. Take naps.

Just under 30 minutes will refresh you, without sending you into deep sleep mode. Any more than that and you may be at risk for an early death, according to a recent study.

13. Plan breaks (or vacations).

And have them be actual breaks, instead of answering business calls or emails. You may have to unplug from those devices if you’re addicted.

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14. Keep the distractions you love out of your sight.

That means placing your phone somewhere other than your workspace and logging out of all social-media accounts before working on your projects.

15. Practice Hours of Power.

Do this with a buddy. Start at the beginning of the hour sharing declarations with your buddy. Work to create those results and get back on the phone to report what you created.

16. Work on a team.

In doing so, you can delegate priorities to people you trust to keep your time focused on things only you can do.

17. Keep travel to a minimum.

Work from home. The effort put into moving around, driving, packing, unpacking, checking into hotels and so on leeches energy.

18. Keep the number of choices you make each day to a minimum.

Take a cue from President Barack Obama, who was quoted in a Vanity Fair interview: “I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing because I have too many other decisions to make.”

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19. Keep the same morning routine, even on weekends.

Do you get up at 5 a.m. on Fridays? Do the same on Saturdays and Sundays. It’ll make waking up again on Monday morning easier.

20. Think of time like money.

You have a budget for money: Money comes in. Money goes out. And you have money left over. Consider creating a “time budget.” How much for working on things that make move your commitments forward (or make money)? How much time for things that don’t move your commitments forward?

21. Be self-centered like Benjamin Franklin.

Create a daily routine that focuses on you, so you get your work done. Be unwilling to give away those chunks of time (like Ben Franklin), so you can be flexible to handle emergencies and interruptions (like Ben Franklin). Read this LifeHack article to learn more about his schedule.

22. Create artificial urgency.

Most of us set deadlines for when the project needs to be done. When we get too close to the date or don’t meet the deadline, we can get desperate and finish off a product in poor quality. Or we quit. Practice creating deadlines that are way ahead of the time the projects are needed to prevent the last-minute rush.

Featured photo credit: Creative Commons/Dennis Hamilton 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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