If you want to make a real change in your life you should first start by learning how to efficiently manage your time. Anyone who knows how to manage time also knows how to manage life. Good time management means proper prioritization, and therefore proper management of your live. The quality of your life depends on the intelligent management of your time and not by the amount of energy you consume on what you do.
Do you always feel you run out of time and you can not do what is scheduled?
Do you always feel that you do not have enough time to spend on yourself?
Do you feel that you live and work in a stressful environment without positive results?
If the answer to any of the above is YES, then it is time to change your life and start spending your time wisely and efficiently. You should promise your self that you will become more organized and focus on your goals and that you will use time for your own benefit.
1. Master your to-do lists
A good and efficient to-do list should include your current tasks and activities as well as tasks that must be completed in the near future. For each item in the list you should specify when and how much time you need to complete it. Repetitive tasks can be planned for specific days and times where you have the appropriate time and availability to finish them.
You must not underestimate the importance of planning your tasks. A good and accurate plan can give you in a large degree control of your time. You must recognize what is important for you and placed those items first on your list.
2. Create a SMART plan
Plan the most difficult tasks at the beginning of each week so that you will be more relaxed towards the end of the week and before the weekend. Difficult tasks are better to be scheduled early in the week (Monday or Tuesday), while most mechanical and tidious tasks around the middle of the week, leaving the end of the week (Thursday and Friday) free and more relaxed as these two days accumulate the fatigue and stress from the work and pressures of the whole week.
3. Learn to set your priorities
You must learn how to efficiently set your priorities. The most important tasks must rank higher in your list. Try to apply the Pareto principle where 80% of your achievements must employ 20% of your efforts. In other words, try to work smart and not hard. Do not abandon your important tasks to achieve the insignificant.
4. The key to successful time management is delegation
The key to successfull time management is delegation. Do not try to complete all the tasks yourself. Recognize which tasks can be completed by others and delegated the work to them. This is the only way that you will find the necessary time to deal with the tasks that are really important for you. At the same time what you choose to do, do it right the first time and save the time needed to re-do a task. Experience shows that the time you might need to re-do a wrongly completed task is more than the time you need to spend to get it right from the beginning. Delegation is an art which can provide many benefits to people who have to undertake a lot of activities.
5. Do not be afraid to say ‘NO’
You must learn to sometimes say NO and reject tasks that you cannot do. If are running out of time and you are feeling stressed then it is better to reject an invitation to go for lunch or to a family dinner. You should realize that you are not in any away obliged to squeeze everything in a moment. You should learn to select the tasks that you really want to do or that needs to be completed.
6. Split a long task into smaller manageable activities
Another technique that will help you manage both your stress and time is to break down the long tasks that you usually do not want to do or are too difficult into a number of smaller and more manageable activities. You can, for example, dedicate 10 minutes every day to work on an unpleasant or long task. Using this approach, gradually you will have some progress, you will feel better and at the end you will be able to complete the activity quickly rather than continuously postponing it.
7. Perfectionism takes time
You should try and avoid perfection. The pointless game of being perfect in trivial things is a waste of time and will not leave you with enough time to deal with other more useful and perhaps pleasant tasks.
8. Recognize the time that you are more productive
It is normal that your performance is not the same all the time. There are times that your are more productive and times that for various reasons your productive falls. This phases may occur during the same day. Assuming that you work 8 hours a day, this gives you approximately 1,800 man hours per year. Discover the time periods you are more productive and try to deal with the most difficult and hard tasks.
9. Try not to postpone things for later
You need to learn to tackle each task and issue when it needs to be handled. Try not to postpone activities for another time because under the pressure of time you are more likely to make mistakes and take the wrong decisions.
10. Avoid things that can distract your attention
During work hours try to find some time where no one can destruct you from your activities. If you have an open-door policy, you may need to close it occasionally. If someone comes to your office when you have a task to complete, gently reject his/her request and schedule some other time for a meeting with them.
11. Do not forget your self
When you create your plans do not forget to include activities related to your own pleasure and rest. During this time make sure that you stop everything, you relax and recharge your batteries. If needed try to sleep half an hour later and during that time do something that you like and makes you calm. Half an hour makes no difference in your sleep but can give you satisfaction and prepare you better for the next day. Reward your self when you manage to finish a long and time consuming task.
12. Analyze where you spend your time
To be able to optimize your time better you need to first understand where do your spend your time. To do that you can keep a log to record your activities. You should do that for 2-3 weeks. In the log you should record everything you do per hour when you’re awake, how much time you allocate for each task, activity, meeting and how much time you allocate for rest and sleep. Once you have this information in the log you can start analyzing where do you spend your time and make the necessary changes so as to optimize your time. You should focus on the activities that are most important for you and on the activities that are important to complete. Avoid un-necessary activities or tasks that do not offer your any real value. For example if you log-in and check your email 10 times a day, you should try and minimize that to a couple of times per day.
13. Always plan time for unpredictable activities
include in your plans extra time for unpredictable tasks and activities . Revise your plans regularly and adjust the time allocated for the unpredictable activities. Thing of possible risk factors that can take you time (e.g. problems with your PC) and have alternative solutions available.
Time management is a skill that needs time to master and begin to work! Ultimately, time management will give you the extra time you need to be able to enjoy what is most important for you and manage to change your life for the better.