Time management is something we all struggle with. It’s not uncommon to see the clock ticking over from 11:59 p.m. to midnight and wonder how exactly an entire 16 hours has elapsed without accomplishing everything you needed to get done in a given day. But with these easy steps, you will be back on track:
Prioritize and organize
Make a list of all the tasks you need to get done in the near future. Look over that list and pick the top five things you need to accomplish before you can go to bed and put them in a logical order. If you have errands to run, do those all in one big trip instead of returning home to do other tasks in between. Invest in a planner to help keep your to-do lists and deadlines organized.
Have a basic schedule and be realistic
Look at what you need to do in a given time and divvy up the hours according to the size of the task. If you will be tackling a mission you’ve never done before or have struggled with in the past, build in extra time to compensate for that. If you finish early you can always add in quick tasks from your list to fill the time. You can also move things back if you run out of time. Be flexible as you get used to a more stringent self-inflicted schedule but also focus on getting better at estimating how long tasks will really take.
Multi-tasking is just the act of mentally jumping from one thing to another without actually completing anything; it leads to a lot of unfinished projects at the end of the day. Focusing on one item on your to-do list at a time means you can actually complete your tasks and give them your undivided attention. All that concentrated brain power is sure to improve both the quantity and the quality of your work.
Recognize your time sucks and use them to your benefit
Whether it’s Farmville, scrolling through 100 pages of Pinterest, stalking your friends on Facebook, or channel surfing, we are all guilty of wasting valuable time on useless stuff. Figure out your time-wasting triggers and avoid them when you are in a time crunch. Alternately, use them as incentives and reward yourself for accomplishing something. Make sure to build those rewards into your schedule. Twenty minutes on Facebook, six times a day adds up to two wasted hours a day. If that time is built into your schedule, then it’s not a waste, it’s a break to clear your mind and reset for your next obstacle.
This is obviously just the beginner’s guide to time management. But, as you practice these skills, it will become easier and you will spend less time preparing for success as your time management skills become second nature. For a more in-depth look and some great tips check out 26 Time Management Hacks I Wish I’d Known at 20.