There is really only one thing that all of us have in common in life: that there is never enough time.
Never enough to do as much as we’d like, see as much as we’d like, love as much as we’d like, and live as much as we’d like.
This is why it is so important to make time in your life so that you can get the most out of life possible.
The best way to do this is to take a hard look at how you currently spend some time, and either add or make sure you’re using some solid time management strategies in order to maximize the value of every minute of every day.
Importance of Time Management
I’ll say it again: there is never enough time. If you ever want to get anywhere in life, do anything big, or live the life you dream of, you need to make time your friend instead of letting it stay your natural enemy.
Using effective time management tools means that you’ll know exactly how to plan your day so that you can just wake up every morning ready and raring to go, totally on top of things, and knowing exactly what comes next. All you’ll need to do after that is simply get on with it!
The best and simplest way to answer the question “but why is time management important” is that you’ll see a resulting change that takes you from constantly asking do you have the time for something to just KNOWING when something will fit into your day or not.
Even better – because you’ll be keeping your time and productivity clicking along so smoothly, you’ll likely find yourself at the point of having EXTRA time, to spend however you want!
Imagine that besides being more productive in your life, you’ll even have “bonus time” to spend however you want – starting a side hustle, hanging out with friends and family more, or maybe just enjoying a little reunion with your couch more often!
Time Management Techniques
Now that you know why time management is important, it’s time that you make yourself a solid time management plan.
What that means, in a nutshell, is making sure that you are moving quickly from one task to the next, doing high priority and time-efficient tasks first, and always making sure that your time is clearly defined so that you’re never stuck wasting time trying to figure out what should come next.
Use the following time management strategies to get your time back, starting now!
1) Don’t be a perfectionist.
This is worth putting as the absolutely first item because SO many people fall victim to the time-suck that is perfectionism. I honestly think everyone does from time to time.
Sure, they say that there is a time and place for everything, and so perfectionism does have a place…somewhere…but chances are good that it’s a far-off place, and an infrequent timing, so you’ve got to learn to avoid it as much as possible.
It’s important to be able to complete a task up to just above the minimum acceptable standard so that you can get on with the next thing!
Being able to say “it’s good enough” and get on with it is a seriously valuable skill in life!
2) Multitasking is NOT a good option.
With the rare exception of something like doing dishes or cooking dinner while talking to your mom on the phone, multitasking is actually a productivity killer, contrary to popular belief.
Did you know that only about 2% of people can actually successfully multitask? I’m going to go ahead and take a guess that you and I most likely are NOT in that small subset.
So basically, every time you multitask and think you’re being productive, what’s actually happening is that your brain is purely switching between one task and the next, stopping the previous task until it comes back to it. Sure, it’s happening in split seconds, but overall you’re adding the switch time between tasks to the length of time it would have taken to complete each task in full, separately.
Add this up and consider the increased delay in switch times for more mentally demanding tasks, and you’ll see how you can possibly be stretching things out and losing minutes to hours per day, even with the seemingly simplest of tasks.
3) Batch your tasks when possible.
I’ll explain this one with a simple example.
If you’ve been doing great at washing laundry once a week, but now you’ve got 4 full laundry baskets that want putting away, you’ll get the task done MUCH faster if you put away all 4 loads at once, rather than doing 1 load, going to do something else, coming back to do another load, etc.
Essentially the same problem applies here as it does with multitasking – the time to switch between tasks is a wasted add-on, so you may as well stay in one “task category” until all the subtasks are exhausted, if possible.
Your laundry is put away faster if you focus on only that. Your house will be clean faster if you do all the cleaning tasks at once.
You’d never mow the front lawn, stop and pull weeds in a flowerbed, wash windows, and then mow the back yard, right? Then don’t do the same sort of thing with the other tasks in your life either.
4) Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.
It’s a fact of life that some things are just more important than others. The tasks you need to complete in a day are not an exception to this rule.
If you’ve got your list totally comprehensive, you’ve got them batched, and you’re totally ready to get one task after another “good enough” and them move on, then you’re off to a good start as far as time management strategies go.
Now it’s time to take it to the next level, by making sure you’re doing the most important tasks first. You don’t live in a bubble, and there’s always the chance that something will come up during a day that will throw you off your groove and your plan.
By prioritizing your tasks, you’ll never find yourself “caught with your pants down” when it’s time to deliver on a task but it was at the wrong point on your list (and you didn’t get to it yet).
Follow a few simple rules that suit your needs, like putting work tasks as a priority over your personal tasks, putting tomorrow’s due dates as a priority over the next day’s due dates, etc.
5) Make it a habit to keep your to-do list up to date.
Want to hear something kind of funny? An informal survey found that 50% of people like to write their to-do lists to include tasks they’ve already completed, so they can have something to immediately cross off so they feel more productive.
I mean, I get it. That quick-hit boost in your look of results is definitely a valid option to get yourself feeling more motivated and less like you’re slowing spinning your wheels.
But that also means you’re wasting time writing down stuff that’s done and over with. Let’s be honest here: who cares?
If you’re going to stick to a prioritization plan as part of your time management strategies, you’re probably going to write a numbered list from 1 to whatever number, right?
Why start the list at number 3? Number 7? Why not start the list at number 1?
You want to be writing your to-do list the night before.
You’re at the end of one day, knowing exactly which high-priority items didn’t get addressed (and should become number 1, 2, 3, etc. for the next day automatically). You’ll have a fresh look at things since it’s no longer an “oh no I’m getting a late start on my day feeling” but instead a plan for what you’re going to do hours from now — you’ve got the luxury of time on your side at that moment of the day.
As you complete tasks, you obviously want to be crossing them off so you can keep track of where you are. But if you’re having a massively productive day, you should also consider giving yourself a “fresh” list once or twice a day, because why not?
Why tell yourself you only need to do, say, items #7-10 on your list to finish the day, and oh goodie, it’s only 11am? Why not challenge yourself to turn #7 into number 1, and aim to accomplish an extra 6 things before the day is done?
Making Time Management Strategies Work For You
In general, following the strategies that we talked about above WILL help you get a better handle on your time and help you suddenly find so much more time in your day to move on to bigger and better things.
That said, the exact way these methods will fit together for you isn’t necessarily the same as it will be for me or anyone else. You might have a job where perfectionism absolutely matters (like if you’re building a suspension bridge)! If you have to get it perfect no matter how long that takes, then your best bet is simply to try to improve your work speed instead of decreasing your pass/fail threshold.
The most important part of using time management strategies is to make sure that they do not ADD stress to your life, or else they kind of defeat their purpose!
Try implementing just one of these strategies at a time so you can see steady, incremental progress. Use those small wins to keep you moving in the right direction!
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