This is a guest post by Danny Donchev, a community & marketing manager of TimeMyLife – a revolutionary time-tracking tool. He writes about productivity and efficiency on the TimeMyLife’s blog. Hit him up on Twitter anytime.
Time… It’s a resource we take for granted until we don’t have enough of it. At that point we are stressed, rushed, and spinning out of control.
That’s when we realize that time is our greatest resource. When we lack a sufficient amount of time our work, relationships, health, and businesses all suffer.
However, I’m sure you notice that everyone doesn’t suffer from a lack of time. Even many of the people that have schedules as busy as yours seem to breeze through their day completing one task after the next.
So what’s the big deal?
Everyone has 24 hours a day. But why do some people seem to always have enough time to get everything done, while others don’t?
It all boils down to effective time management tricks. The biggest difference between the people that have a lack of time and the ones that have an abundance of it, is the strategies the latter employ.
Today I’m going to reveal some of those strategies.
Let’s start with this basic tactic that, if not implemented, will wreak havoc on your day.
Time Management Tricks to Help You Take Control of Your Time
1. Prioritize your schedule.
The first step in effective time management is getting your priorities straight. At the end of each day, you should make a to-do list for the following day. But don’t just stop there like most people.
Separate urgent from important tasks and always aim to complete the most important tasks first.
2. Make others respect your time.
This step begins with you first respecting your own time.
If you acknowledge that your time is valuable, then others will have no choice but to follow suit.
Start by eliminating time wasters, let others know that you have a schedule to keep, and don’t let anyone devalue your time in any way.
3. Stop multitasking.
The thought that we get more done by splitting our attention between two or more task at once is a myth.
Scientific studies have shown on numerous occasions that multitasking drastically lowers the quality of the work we produce, and it also reduces your productivity by as much as 40 percent per task.
40 percent more time per task can quickly add up and equate to dozens of extra hours per week.
The evidence is clear. Multitasking is costing you more time than it’s saving you. Don’t do it.
4. Set tight deadlines.
Setting deadlines is one of most practical time management tricks. However, if you set your deadlines too far into the future, it can backfire.
Studies have shown the further out the deadline the more we procrastinate on completing the task.
Close this time gap and end procrastination by setting tight deadlines and sticking to them. This will force you to take action now, instead of waiting for the time gap in your deadline to narrow before you actually start working.
5. Start with a small task and go from there.
Sometimes when we look at our to-do list, the magnitude of the important task on the list deflates.
If this feeling strikes you, don’t react like most people and put off work completely. Start by working on the smaller task on your list. As you check those tasks off, it will give you the momentum needed to tackle the most difficult ones on your to-do list.
6. Realize that more time doesn’t automatically equate to more productivity.
People make this mistake too often. All rational thought would lead you to believe that more time equals a boost in productivity.
However, what usually ends up happening is we spend that extra time watching television, commenting on social media, or engaging in other forms of entertainment that don’t move us closer to our goals.
When you have extra time on your hands make sure that you remain focused and actually turn that abundance of time into enhanced productivity.
7. Batch brain dead task and complete them at the end of the day.
To stay productive, you have to maintain your focus on completing the urgent and important task on your to-do list.
That means eliminating as many of the “brain dead” task from your daily schedule as possible.
Things like checking email, filing paperwork, and making phone calls should be batched and completed all at once at a scheduled time daily or weekly, preferably at the end of the day or week so that it won’t pull your focus away from a more important task.
8. Use the Pomodoro Technique to combat procrastination.
The Pomodoro Technique is one of the most widely used time management tricks out there, and the reason why is simple.
The technique uses a timer to break your work into intervals. Traditionally, it calls for 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break.
This forces you to eliminate procrastination, and focus on getting the task at hand completed.
9. Break bigger tasks into smaller ones.
As I stated earlier, sometimes when we look at our to-do list, the magnitude of our important tasks deflates us.
I suggested that you start on the smaller task on your list first to build up momentum. However, there is another effective method to conquering the large and more daunting task on your to-do list. And that’s breaking those task up into smaller chunks.
Think about the components of a large project and divide them. With each small task you finish, you move closer to completing the big picture.
10. Prioritize your to-do list.
Some tasks are more important than others. This is an important realization you must come to if you want to boost your productivity with the help of the right time management tricks. Focus on the things that matter most.
To do this divide your to-do list into urgent, important, and neither urgent nor important task.
As stated earlier, start by focusing on the important tasks on your list, then move to the urgent task, and last complete the tasks that are neither urgent nor important.
11. Focus on tasks that will have the biggest impact.
To achieve your goals, you have to maintain focus on the bigger picture.
Distractions will come and go, you will have to complete less important tasks, but nothing shows that you have your eyes on the prize like identifying and completing the assignments that will have the biggest impact on achieving your primary goal.
12. Delegate when possible.
This is a hard thing to do, especially for entrepreneurs. But you have to come to terms with the fact that your time is limited and if you try to do everything yourself, you will do more harm than good.
If a task doesn’t need your skills or direct input assign it to another worker. A bit of advice, though, when you do delegate, set tight deadlines as you would for yourself to eliminate time wasting on the employee’s end.
13. Keep track of distractions.
No matter how hard you try to avoid it, distractions are bound to happen. However, you don’t want to let things get out of hand.
Keep track of distractions in a notepad or spreadsheet. Then periodically go back and review the data. See if you spot any trends or frequent occurrences, then adjust your environment accordingly.
14. Get adequate sleep.
This one is a doubled eyed sword that can start a vicious cycle in your life.
When you don’t get enough sleep, you are less efficient and productive. Which leads to you having to stay up late to finish all the tasks on your to-do list. You wake up tired the next morning, and the cycle begins again.
The first step to getting adequate sleep is implementing the tips on this list so that lack of time won’t force you to work into the wee hours of the night.
The next step is to employ tactics that have been proven to help people get a restful night of sleep.
– Setting a sleep schedule and sticking to it.
– Not consuming caffeine 4 or 5 hours before bedtime.
– Creating a bedtime ritual like reading a book before you doze off.
– Turning your phone to do not disturb mode and storing it outside of arms reach from your bed.
One thing you can’t neglect if you want to become efficient at managing your time is the amount of sleep you get every night.
Effective time management is more important than many people realize.
When you are skilled at managing your time, your productivity, your relationships, and your achievements all get a boost.
In fact, I would go as far as saying that effective time management is one of the primary cornerstones of success.
The 14 time management tricks listed above have the power to change your life when correctly implemented.
Don’t do your success a disservice. Start utilizing these now.