If you’re sitting in awe at the fact that it’s already February — you’re likely struggling with the dreaded term time management. “I’m already one month behind in my New Year’s Resolutions?!” You say? Don’t fret, we all are. In an era that requires the average human to be a certified multitasker, it is increasingly difficult to “find” the time to proactively take steps towards our ambitions. The time doesn’t need to be “found,” however. It is always there — and here are 5 simple ways to perfect the art (and it is truly an art) of time management.
1.Evaluate your sleeping habits. We’ve all heard the phrase “early to bed, early to rise” — but the time of day you start your work isn’t exactly the key to productivity — it’s more about how refreshed you feel when you wake. If you’re averaging under 6 hours of sleep a night, you lose the capacity to stay focused on present tasks, therefore wasting unnecessary time with each little distraction. Strive for those 8 hours, refresh yourself during the night and you’ll see a world of difference in the time it takes to finish tasks.
2. “Begin with the end in mind.” Sound familiar? Yes, Stephen Covey had it right in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Start each day as if it were on purpose. Whatever interpretation this phrase means to you, employ it. If it means you don’t have to wake up early tomorrow but you know you have work to finish — set that alarm earlier. If it means writing a to-do list and not stopping until all your tasks are crossed off — write it. Begin your day by concentrating first on what you need to have accomplished by the end of the night.
3. Find your organizational tool. Often times, we’re ineffective with our time because we don’t know how to organize it. (I too have been guilty of this.) Whether we don’t remember we have a deadline coming up until the night before, or we underestimate the amount of time it will take us to finish a task — we’re failing at some aspect of organizing. When we fail to start tasks on time, time is left unprioritized. Find the organizational tool that works for you. Digital calendars, planners, phone reminders and alarms are just few of the many methods you can employ.
4. Escape the electronic environment. While of course you may need to work off of your computer, laptop or tablet — the “electronic environment” as I like to call it is a workplace environment that is overwhelmed by text messages, email alerts, Facebook notifications and more. Each 2-5 minutes taken off task to read or respond to each little alert can easily add up to an hour (or more!) of wasted time by the end of your project. It will take self control — but by temporarily logging out of all social media sites, email accounts, and putting your phone on “Do not disturb” until your task is finished — you will not only work more efficiently, but finish quickly. Just be sure to let your coworkers, friends and family know that you’re “logging off everything” for a few hours and you will get back to them afterwards.
5. Don’t be afraid to delegate. I sympathize with you if you feel you have the world on your shoulders. We often want to be the one who can “do it all” — but that comes at a cost in not only time, but your energy and mental health. You may be a business owner, a boss, an employee — but no matter the title, you likely have a team of individuals willing to take on more responsibility for their own professional development or even to lend a helping hand. We have a habit of stressing over our loaded plates, but rarely ask others for help. Trust in your employees, partners or teammates and their ability to perform. Not only will it decrease your workload and free up time for yourself, but it will allow you to build a stronger relationship with those around you. Now that is time well spent!
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