As a busy professional, your life can feel like one big race against time. In addition to all of your professional obligations, you also have personal duties and responsibilities. Trying to juggle all of them at once can feel impossibly frustrating. But with the right time management strategies, you can improve performance in each area of your life.
5 Time Management Tips and Tactics
You only get 24 hours in a day – the same amount that every other human being has. And of these 24 hours, at least five or six of them are spent on sleep. This leaves you with a maximum of 18 or 19 hours to accomplish work tasks, spend time with your family, tend to household responsibilities, and care for your own personal health and well being.
Sometimes the only choice is to eliminate certain responsibilities to create more space in your schedule. Other times, you just need to be more efficient with how you’re handling these obligations.
With the following tips, you should be able to improve your time management and embrace greater efficiency and output.
1. Plan Your Day the Night Before
If you wake up in the morning and then try to figure out what you’re going to do over the next 18 or 19 hours, you’re already operating out of a major deficiency. You need to plan your day out the night before.
Take 10 minutes each evening to map out the following day. It doesn’t have to be a minute-by-minute breakdown, but do try to be as specific as possible. At the very least, create a prioritized to-do list and rank items based on their urgency.
2. Follow a Consistent Morning Routine
A good morning routine sets the tone for the rest of the day. It’s something predictable and comfortable that allows you to center your mind on proficiency and productivity.
The specifics of your morning routine are less important than the fact that you actually have one. However, you should try to avoid early exposure to distractions like technology and news. Healthy habits like cooking breakfast, reading, journaling, and exercising are ideal.
3. Eat the Frog
Mark Twain once famously said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
In other words, look at your to-do list and do the thing that’s least appetizing first. If you don’t, you’ll end up procrastinating all day.
Not sure what your frog is? Try using the Eisenhower Box Technique. With this method, you divide your to-do list into four categories or quadrants:
- Things you don’t want to do, but need to do.
- Things you want to do and need to do.
- Things you want to do, but don’t actually need to do.
- Things you don’t want to do and don’t need to do.
Based on these categories, your frogs are the things you don’t want to do, but actually need to do.
4. Control Your Notifications
As beneficial as email, SMS, smartphones, and social media are, the constant ringing and dinging of notifications and buzzes isn’t doing you any favors. It commands your attention and zaps your focus.
While you probably can’t go silent for an entire day, you should be tactful about controlling notifications. Try creating blocks of time where you check your notifications – perhaps the first 10 minutes of every hour. Over the rest of the time, silence as many apps and devices as you can.
5. Delegate and Outsource
You’re only one person. You have finite abilities and strength. (Sorry if that sounds un-American!) Recognizing your limitations is key to your success and sanity. Learn to delegate and outsource the tasks that aren’t 100 percent dependent on your direct involvement.
Stop Sabotaging Your Success
Now is a perfect time to review your schedule and rethink your priorities. How are you spending your time? How can you become more efficient in your habits? Are there ways you can restructure your responsibilities to improve output and get superior results?
View your life like one big experiment. Adjust the different variables in a controlled manner and study the results. You’ll eventually zero in on a methodology that works. And once you do, your productivity and success will skyrocket.