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24 Hours Not Enough? 10 Tips Of Time Management To Make Every Day Count

24 Hours Not Enough? 10 Tips Of Time Management To Make Every Day Count

Time management. So elusive and marketable a skill that an entire industry has been built around selling it to every businessperson worth their salt.

It is, in effect, the art of mastering your waking – and sometimes even your unconscious hours – to make you as productive, bright-eyed, and at the top of your game as it is physically possible to be without the help of stimulants, time travel, or a miracle. Managing your time may seem like an easy concept, but who ever has enough hours in the day to get everything done you want to get done? Not many people, that’s for sure.

So, if you think you might be lagging behind when it comes to mastering your day-to-day, then check out this guide of useful tips of how to conquer the time-sucks of modern life and become the efficient, productive human being you known you can be…

1. Get A Solid Seven to Eight Hours of Sleep Every Night

This one is a simple, yet endlessly brilliant way of improving your time management skills: get more sleep. Simple, really. Studies have found that people who get an average of seven to nine hours sleep are more productive, happier,and work at a higher quality, than those who get less than seven hours sleep a night.

Getting plenty of sleep also ensures that you’ll be in a much more positive mood in the morning, meaning the chances of you getting more work done are increased. Making the most of your twenty four hours might not seem conducive to getting a full eight hours, but many famous prolific achievers such as Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Thomas Mann all had full and healthy sleep, suggesting that time management is something best conquered on a good night’s sleep.

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2. Rise Early In The Morning To Conquer The Day

One of the most effective ways to improve your time management is to start early in the morning. Rising early has numerous benefits, the most obvious of which is that getting up early allows you much more time to actually get stuff done. Making most of your twenty four hours works much better when you’re up earlier; studies have found that early risers are more productive and feel more accomplished at day’s end.

Working as the sun rises gives you a head start on people still in bed, as well as ensuring that your brain – which according to research is best functionally two and a half hours after we wake up – gets the treatment it does. There’s a reason the adage, ‘the early bird catches the worm’ has survived to this day.

3. Never Multitask

Multitasking is a word used the world over when it comes to productivity and time management. Everyone and their high-achieving mother believes that multitasking is the way forward.if you want to be a super-productive member of society, thanks to numerous articles and books on the subject. However, in recent years, multitasking has been increasingly disregarded as a method of productivity due to neurological research suggesting that multitasking itself is impossible

Studies have shown that breaking from one task to another and then back again in  a short space of time – i.e. multitasking – actually shortens attention span and affects the quality of the work. Instead, work on one task at a time and engage in the ‘flow’, a state of consciousness wherein you are totally absorbed and engaged in one activity. It’ll have the awesome side effect of improving your attention span and allowing you to get much more done and in a quicker time frame in your precious twenty four hours, vastly improving your time management.

4. Take A Twenty Minute Power Nap Regularly

One of the most enjoyable ways to boost your time management skills is to take a nap. Research has found that a ‘power nap’ taken after lunch, during one of the human body’s natural rhythms can help boost productivity, creativity, and even episodic memory. Studies have found that a short nap, one that falls within the first stage of sleep, and avoids the REM stage of sleep, can help ‘refresh’ the brain.

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The other good way to nap is to take a full nap in the 90-minute sleep cycle that dictates circadian rhythms, rather than waking up in the middle of REM sleep which is sure to make you groggy and irritable. Taking a short afternoon nap helps improve your work ethic and your productivity, ensuring that you do more and better work in the time you have, making it a time management essential.

5. Bunch Tasks Together Throughout the Day To Stay In The ‘Flow’

Bunching tasks together can be an extremely useful task when it comes to working on and improving your daily time management. Scheduling your day together so that groups of tasks are bunched together allows for your brain to stay entrenched in the same comfort zone for a longer period of time, rather than flitting from one disparate task to another.

Doing this encourages being in the ‘Flow’, a state of joyful productivity that encourages great work being done with an inherent sense of bliss and happiness, something that is easily desired and hard-won. Fortunately it is easier than ever to try and induce this ‘flow’ state, and bunching tasks together makes it easier to manage your day and to get everything you need to do done in those twenty four hours.

6. Schedule the Heck Out of Your Days

This one is a bit of a no-brainer, but properly scheduling your days is a must-have tool for top-quality time management. Proper scheduling can be a pain in the butt to go through but actually knowing exactly where you’re going and what you’re doing can help make the most out of your time. Scheduling is in effect forward thinking to a fine art – anticipating everything you need to get done in that day and making sure you have enough time to do it.

Planning your day ahead with a big diary or work planner can be extremely useful in terms of time management, as can ensuring that you check timetables of public transport, weather, every piece of potential information you need to take with you to work or to meetings. It might be associated with an extreme level of perfectionism, but the goal here is not perfection, but rather to give you the structure and time you need to deal with your day in the best way possible.

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7. Figure Out Exactly Where You Spend Your Time and Work On Improving It

We’re all guilty of wasting time. That isn’t a crime, per se, but it is an unfortunate area and habit to block if you want to be the most productive you can be, and embrace time management at its fullest. However, that isn’t to say that you shouldn’t relax or unwind throughout your work day – we’re not supercharged, no-stop-taking machines, after all. So, as a compromise between your actual physical needs and your best psychological self, you need to figure out exactly where you spend your time on an average day and work on improving that.

For example, work on cutting out your commute time if possible, or utilizing that time to better effect, such as brainstorming ideas; work on fitting your physical workout time to a small amount every day instead of a marathon-long session at the end of a week that sucks up time. Streamlining your time makes you more efficient and easier to do everything you need to do and want to do in your day – that’s a key component of successful time management.

8. Use Your ‘Dead Time’ To Your Advantage

‘Dead time’ is a concept touted by books such as Tony Schwartz’s ‘Be Excellent At Anything’, is a way of making time management work to your purposes. ‘Dead time’ is the time spent when we’re just waiting or doing nothing without a real purpose; and that dead time can be useful in helping us to do little bits and pieces of big projects. If you need to review an album, take it on your mp3 player and listen to songs at a time when you’re stuck in the dentist’s office or at a quiet coffee break. Jot down ideas for your next big project when you’re waiting at the cinema to watch a movie.

The point of utilizing dead time is to use those random, useless moments to your advantage – that isn’t to say that free time itself is the enemy. Far from it; using your dead time will allow to engage fully in your well-deserved relaxation time, without fear of feeling guilty or ashamed, as if there is something more you should be working on. Make sure to make the most of your dead time, and you’ll have your time management skills on a whole new level.

9. Make Sure Never To Neglect Your Self Care and Your Mental Health.

Self-care is one of the most undervalued and yet important and central tenements of successful time management. It’s an expectation in the modern working world to always be working and be available – whether through work or through the many avenues of social media – but one of the most important things you can do every day, is to take care of your self and make sure you have a chunk of time carved out for you and you alone.

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Relaxation and self-indulgence alike both have restorative properties – meditation has proven to reduce stress levels, and a short ten-minute meditation session allows for greater productivity and overall happiness. Taking time out for yourself allows your body to rejuvenate and restore itself to the kind of mental, physical, and emotional state that allows for the best productivity and effective time management. In short, don’t feel guilty for taking time out to relax in the park with a book. You’re being your best self.

10. Learn How to Say ‘No’.

One of the most important and yet terrifying things you can ever do is say ‘no’. No to a project, no to a commitment, no to someone’s request.

It’s so easy to consider saying ‘no’ selfish – there’s always another demand, another request, another assignment or project you could pick up to your already overloaded plate. However, ‘burnout’ is a significant and terrifying psychological problem in which people become so overwrought with stress that they end up hating their work and even experience physical symptoms such as physical exhaustion. Burnout is a growing problem across the global workplace, and it has to be stopped.

Just say no. No one who actually cares will mind if you politely turn down their request, citing a too-busy schedule. Taking care of your mental health is top priority, so even if it feels awkward the first time, learn to say ‘no’ to the projects you don’t want to have in your life, and learn the art of keeping your work life simple. That’s the key to time management.

Featured photo credit: Limitless, Relativity Media via fitandstrongdads.com

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Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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Last Updated on October 21, 2019

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, is a reminder of why I am so drawn to leadership as a topic. Whenever I think it is impossible for me to be more impressed with her, she proves me wrong.

Earlier this week, a former marine suggested that he had been in a long-term sexual relationship with the Senator. She flipped the narrative and used the term “Cougar,” a term used to describe older women who date younger men, to reference her alma mater.

Rather than calling the young man a liar, or responding to the accusations in kind, she re-focused the conversation back to her message of college affordability and lifted up that “Cougar” was the mascot for her alma mater. She went on to note that tuition at her school was just $50 per semester when she was a student. Class act.

But by the end of the week, news broke that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another contender for the presidency, had a heart attack. Warren not only wished Sanders a speedy recovery but her campaign sent a meal to his staff. She knew that the hopes of staff, donors and supporters were with the Senator from Vermont and showed genuine compassion and empathy.

To me, she has proven time and time again that she is more than a presidential candidate: she belongs in a leadership hall of fame.

What makes some people excel as leaders is fascinating. You can read about leadership, research it and talk about it, yet the interest in leadership alone will not make you a better leader.

You will have more information than the average person, but becoming a good leader is lifelong work. It requires experience – and lots of it. Most importantly, it requires observation and a commitment to action. Warren observed what was happening with Sen. Sanders, empathized with his team and then took action. Regardless of the outcome of this election, Sanders’ staff will likely never forget her gesture.

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You would have had to work on a political campaign in order to appreciate the stress and anxiety that comes with it. In this moment, staff may not remember everything that Warren said throughout the lengthy campaign, but they will remember what she did during an unforgettable time during the campaign.

If this model of leadership is appealing, and if you are searching for how to up your own leadership game, read on for six characteristics that good leaders share:

1. Good leaders are devoted to the success of the people around them.

Good leaders are not self-interested. Sure, they want to succeed, but they also want others to succeed.

Good leaders see investing in others just as important as they see investing in themselves. They understand that their success is closely tied to the people around them, and they work to ensure that their peers, employees, friends and family have paths for growth and development.

While the leaders may be the people in the spotlight, they are quick to point to the people around them who helped them (the leaders) enter that spotlight. Their willingness to lift others inspires their colleagues’ and friends’ devotion and loyalty.

2. Good leaders are not overly dependent on others’ approval.

It is important for managers to express their support for their teams; good leaders must be independent of the approval of others. I explained in an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, that:[1]

“While a desire to be loved is natural, managers who prioritize approval from subordinates will become ineffective supervisors who may do employees harm. For example, a manager driven by a need for approval may shy away from delivering constructive feedback that could help an employee improve. A manager fearful of upsetting someone may tolerate behavior that degrades the work environment and culture.”

In yet another example, a manager who is dependent on the approval of others may not make decisions that could be deemed unpopular in the short run but necessary in the long run.

Think of the coaches who integrated their sporting teams. Their decision to do so, may have seemed odd, and even wrong, in the moment, but time has proven that those leaders were on the right side of history.

3. Good leaders have the capacity to share the spotlight.

Attention is nice, but it is not the prime motivator for good leaders. Doing a good job is.

For this reason, good leaders are willing to share the spotlight. They aren’t threatened by a lack of attention, and they do not need credit for every accomplishment. They are too focused on their goal and too focused on the urgency of their work.

4. Good leaders are students.

In the same way that human beings are constantly evolving, so too are leaders. As long as you are living, you have the potential to learn. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you think you have; you can always learn something new.

I have the experience of thinking I was doing everything right as a manager, only to receive conflicting feedback from my team. Perhaps my approach was not working for my team, and I had to be willing to hear their feedback to improve.

Good leaders understand that their secret sauce is their willingness to keep receiving information and keep learning. They aren’t intimidated by what they do not know: As long as they maintain a willingness to keep growing, they believe they can overcome any obstacle they face.

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As both masters and students, good leaders read, listen and study to grow. They consume content for information, not just entertainment purposes. They aren’t impressed with their knowledge; they are impressed with the learning journey.

5. Good leaders view vulnerability as a superpower.

It means “replacing ‘professional distance and cool,’ with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” said Emma Sappala in a Dec. 11, 2014, article, “What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable” for Harvard Business Journal.[2] She went on to note the importance of human connection, which she asserts is often missing at work.

“As leaders and employees, we are often taught to keep a distance and project a certain image. An image of confidence, competence and authority. We may disclose our vulnerability to a spouse or close friend behind closed doors at night but we would never show it elsewhere during the day, let alone at work.”

This rings so true for me as a woman leader. I was raised believing that any show of emotion in the workplace could be used against me. I was raised believing that it was best for women leaders to be stoic and to “never let ‘em see you sweat.” This may have prevented me from connecting with employees and colleagues on a deeper, more personal level.

6. Good leaders understand themselves.

I am a huge fan of life coach and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant. In addition to her hit show on the OWN network, Vanzant has authored dozens of books. In her books and teachings, she underscores the importance of knowing ourselves fully. She argues that we must know what makes us tick, what makes us happy and what makes us angry.

Self-awareness enables us to put ourselves in situations where we can thrive, and it also enables us to have compassion when we fall short of the goals and expectations we have for ourselves. Relatedly, understanding ourselves will allow us to know our strength. When we know our strengths, we will be able to put people around us who compliment our strengths and fill the gaps in our leadership.

Final Thoughts

Being a good leader, first and foremost, is an inside job. You must focus on growing as a person regardless of the leadership title that you hold. You cannot take others where you yourself have not been. So focusing on yourself, regardless of your time or where you are in your career will have long term benefits for you and the people around you.

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Further, if you want to become a good leader, you should start by setting the intention to do so. What you focus on grows. If you focus on becoming a better leader, you will research and invest in things that help you to fulfill this intention. You will also view the good and bad leadership experiences as steppingstones that hone your character and help you improve.

After you set the intention, get really clear on what a good leader looks like to you. Each of us has a different understanding of leadership. Is a good leader someone who takes risk? Is a good leader, in your estimation, someone who develops other leaders? Whatever it is, know what you’re shooting for. Once you define what it means to be a good leader, look for people who exemplify your vision. Watch and engage with them if you can.

Finally, understand that becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight. You must continually work at improving, investing in yourself and reflecting on what is going well and what you must improve. In this way, every experience is an opportunity to grow and a chance to ask: ‘What is this experience trying to teach me?’ or ‘what action is necessary based on this situation?’

If you are committed to questioning, evaluating and acting, you are that much closer to becoming a better leader.

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Featured photo credit: Sam Power via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why Good Managers Overcome the Desire to Be Liked
[2] Harvard Business Journal: What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable

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