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Boost Your Time Management Skills With These 9 Techniques

Boost Your Time Management Skills With These 9 Techniques
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    Having problems fitting it all in?

    Is a 24 hour day no longer enough?

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    If this is the case, here are 9 useful techniques that you can use to boost your time management skills:

    1. Be Clear about Goals and Objectives

    A sure way to delay in getting started or to make a job last longer than it needs to is being unsure about the objectives. You will often waste time doing work that doesn’t need to be done or spend too much time on other work. Before you set out get clarity on your goals and objectives.

    2. Schedule your Time

    If you want to have good time management skills, the first thing you will need is a calendar. Stuff has to get scheduled. If you don’t use a calendar then the dreaded jobs — like doing your taxes and cleaning the bathroom — will never get done. Start by scheduling the essential jobs, the appointments, meetings and any other responsibilities you are committed to. Then you will see how much time you have left over to populate.

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    3. Delegate When Possible

    If you find after doing up your schedule that there isn’t much time left over, then think about delegating work. If you work alone, get a virtual assistant. Remember what David Allen says:

    “Only do what only you can do.”

    4. Monitor How you Spend Your Time

    If getting a virtual assistant or anybody else to assist you isn’t an option, then you should start to monitor your time and see how you are spending it daily. You can use a monitoring program for this like Officemetrics or RescueTime. These programs can monitor all that you do on your computer and give you reports to show you how much time you spend on social media, email, Internet or any other work files. You may not like what you see…but it is always better to know.

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    5. Avoid Multitasking

    Human beings can’t multitask (no, not even women). Our brains have become good at task switching, but cannot actually focus on two things at once. If we try to do more than one thing at the same time we lose time refocusing on the new task. If at all possible, focus on one job at a time and complete it before moving on to something else.

    6. Do a Regular Mind Sweep

    Do a regular mind sweep where you get a piece of paper and write down everything you need to do. Don’t categorize it. Just dump it all onto a piece of paper. Don’t separate work and home; they don’t have different compartments in the brain. Once you have done this schedule, work on any jobs that need to get done and put the rest into your task management system.

    7. Exercise

    Remember if Branson thinks it’s important — you don’t argue. Branson reckons working out every day gives him 4 extra hours of productivity a day. Get regular exercise to give you energy, reduce your stress and help you to focus.

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    8. Eat Healthily

    Nutrition is also very important. During the day it is important to eat the right foods to keep you energized and focused. Regular small bites rather than a large meal will keep your brain more alert during the day. Don’t go large periods of time without eating. This will result in fatigue and poor mental abilities. Drinking water will also keep dehydration at bay and keep your body and mind happy.

    9. Slow down and breathe

    Lastly, don’t forget to slow down and breathe deeply as often as possible. Lack of oxygen will make you slow and sluggish, which will affect your performance. The more you rush about from task to task the less you will achieve.

    Take your time, focus on the right things, and your time management skills will be top of the class before you know it.

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    (Photo credit: Farewell Atlantis via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    Ciara Conlon

    Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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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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