Right now, if you’re like most people, your home life, professional life and even your weekends are probably a mad stressful rush to get things done. There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to do it all and the stress keeps mounting. To simmer down your stress and make more time for family and friends, we recommend that you incorporate these ten time management tips. If you do, you’ll be happier, healthier and a lot more productive.
- Eliminate time-wasting activities. First, you’ll have to find out what’s eating up your time. With 24 hours in each day, you should have plenty of time to get things done, so where does all that time go? To find out, start by tracking your daily activities. Make a list as you go through your day of what you’re doing. Keep track for the next 3 or 4 days and you’ll get a pretty accurate picture. Then, you’ll be able to reclaim wasted minutes.
- Plan your day. Do your daily planning first thing in the morning or at the end of the previous day. There are so many time-management tools today ranging from paper planners to software products to help you schedule daily activities and appointments. Plus, once you’ve written down your must dos, then you can put them out of your mind until you’re scheduled to work on them. So, instead of walking around all day wasting time worrying about what you have to do, you’ll be getting it done.
- Prioritize your activities. Write down everything you have to accomplish during your day and then assign them a priority ranking: A, B or C (with A being the most important). Then, estimate the amount of time each task should take and enter each activity into your planner. Schedule high priority tasks during the time period in which you’re your most productive.
- Establish a routine. There’s no getting away from emergencies that will derail you from your routine. Still, routines do give structure to your day – and by sticking to them, you help ensure that your ‘must dos’ get done.
- Put a time limit on activities. Set aside a certain amount of time during your day for phone calls and emails, or other activities that have a tendency to eat up time, and don’t exceed your limit!
- Become an efficiency expert. If you must spend time waiting — whether it’s on line or for an appointment or for your computer to boot up, use these precious minutes to get things done. Do simple chores, respond to emails or phone calls, or sift through your mail. Remember, the more wasted moments you recapture the more free time you’ll have for yourself.
- Touch paper once. This is a tried-and-true time management axiom that can be applied to one of today’s modern-day time wasters: e-mail. When it’s time to check e-mail remember: touch an e-mail just once – then, act on it, file it, add it to your to-do list, put it on your calendar or just delete it. You’ll get more done and eliminate inbox clutter!
- Stop multi-tasking. Instead, set aside a block of time for each of your activities: e-mail, phone calls, projects, etc. and concentrate only on that task. This means letting your calls go into voicemail and your e-mails sit until you reach the time set aside to handle them. Avoiding constant interruptions lets you become much more productive.
- Start with your top priority. It’s very easy to start with the simplest tasks, but then you may find that that’s all you’ve accomplished during your day. So, start with the important jobs first! And, don’t be afraid of large projects. Simply break them down into chunks. The task will seem less intimidating and you’re more likely to get started on it. The Mayo Clinic suggests practicing the 10-minute rule. Work on a dreaded task for 10 minutes each day. Once you get started on it you may even find yourself finishing it!
- Set aside time for exercise – and get plenty of sleep! You’ll find that your focus and efficiency improve considerably. Don’t have time to exercise? See “Exercise Doesn’t Take a Lot of Time…”
Let me also add the following piece of advice: whenever possible delegate! This not only applies to the workplace, it’s just as important at home. Share chores. Remember, everyone has enough time to pitch in on something. Don’t go it alone; let others carry some of the load.
The bottom line: managing your time can minimize stress and improve the quality of your life and your health. Don’t procrastinate – get started now!