Time Management 101
Time Management 101: How to Become the Most Organised Version of Yourself
No matter how early he wakes up and how many lists he makes the night before, he can’t do all the things he has planned. He has the attention span of a goldfish and he always gets distracted by other tasks while trying to focus on the most important one. At the end of the day, he sighs: `I don’t ever have enough time!`.
Do you know this guy? Or, better said, are you this guy? Look, we totally get you. You always have the best intentions, but you can’t master the art of time management just yet. You’re a hot mess, but this is about to change. This is why we are all here.
And if you’re the guy looking at your colleague above saying `Ah, amateurs!` while ticking every box on your to do list, don’t leave so soon. You may still learn a few tricks, so stay with us!
What is time management, after all?
Time management. You hear it constantly. People talk about it, they even take courses in order to understand it and become better at it. But what is it all about?
We are talking about the process of organizing and planning your time efficiently. When you’re good at it, you work smarter – not harder!
Time management, in simple words, is the way you choose to divide your hours in a day, so you can achieve all of your goals. Still wondering how those people get so much done in the same 24 hours that you also have?
Here’s 5 Tips to Become a Time Management Guru!
1. Set reasonable deadlines and stick to them
Procrastination is a sweet and sneaky saboteur. You start by scrolling on your social media feeds, like the innocent person that you are. Then you watch a YouTube video and – Holy Excel Sheet! – it’s already 6 PM.
We know that deadlines are not sexy at all, but they are extremely useful and you’ll actually learn how to love them. What they do is they’re holding you accountable for your actions.
When you say `I will get that project done`, you do nothing about it. No commitment whatsoever! Your brain goes `Okay, we will do it at some point in time. No pressure, let’s watch funny cat videos!`.
But what about `I will solve the last two tasks of this project by Friday, end of the day`? Can you notice the nuances? You basically make a promise to yourself and your brain will know that you are supposed to do that thing until the deadline. It will say something like `Wow, this dude is determined, we better get to work now!`.
The point is, if you really want to use your time efficiently, you need to set some goals and deadlines for yourself. By doing that, you’ll have a purpose and more drive to get things done. It’s like a contest where you don’t compete against yourself, but you’re being your own coach.
2. Learn how to say `no`
Picture this: The lunch break is over and you are about to get back to work. A teammate stops you down the hall and asks you for a favor. Maybe she wants your opinion on a strategy she made, maybe she wants you to send her some documents or maybe she’s just in the mood for a good, old, casual chatter. What do you do?
90% of people would accept the conversation and postpone their work. Now, we’re not saying that you should work non-stop and avoid any sort of human interaction. But you must know, hitting the snooze button on your own priorities is a huge no-no!
So many people think that saying `no` is a form of disrespect. Nope, you are not being rude! Actually, a firm, but polite `no` is the most powerful tool for effective time management. If you always get distracted by others or by spontaneous requests that delay your work, you’ll suffer in the long run.
Instead, smile and say the magic word firmly. Express your sympathy and willingness to help some other time, when you’ll be available. This saves you a lot of time and it helps you stay focused on your work.
3. Don’t strive for perfection
The core reason for procrastination is fear. Yes, you can read that again if you want! We worry that we won’t do it perfectly, that we will embarrass ourselves or that someone may criticise our work. This is why we put it off again and again – to delay our alleged failure.
This brings us to pro tip number 3: stop striving for perfection. It’s not real, nor attainable. Even though you don’t feel 100% inspired, start doing it. Create a workflow and stick to it every day, even when you feel distracted or you find it hard to focus. Consistency is key!
Remember: a good project done is always better than a perfect project that never gets to see the light.
4. Use waiting time efficiently
No matter how well organized you are, there are still idle moments throughout the day. A couple of minutes spent in the bus, waiting for the tram, staying in line at the supermarket or queuing up at the bank.
In these boring moments, you usually end up scrolling on your Facebook feed or passively watching totally mind-numbing Insta stories. It’s time to switch things up!
Always have a plan B. More specific, a book, a notepad or a podcast saved on your phone. Get those waiting times and make something useful out of them. Learn something new, answer some emails, plan ahead, summarize your day so far. Anything but wasting precious time!
Moreover, you can use waiting times to realign yourself and relax after completing a difficult task or attending an energy draining meeting. Learn to meditate on the go, breathe deeply, unclench your jaw, relax your shoulders and neck. It can make a huge difference in your overall mood and productivity.
5. Prioritize your tasks and eat that frog!
Most people would do great when it comes to time management, if there wasn’t for those dreadful errands. You know what we’re talking about: making a doctor’s appointment, calling a business partner or scheduling a meeting you really wish you didn’t have to attend.
These things can take your enthusiasm away and keep your mind busy. Therefore, you’ll constantly think about them, hating them and then ignoring them.
Our tip is trying to `eat the frog` early in the morning. Get rid of those boring or anxiety provoking tasks right from the start. The feeling you’ll get after this will make your productivity skyrocket.
Furthermore, don’t ever forget to prioritize your tasks. Yes, to do lists are fine, but add a color scheme or a code to prioritize each item on that list. For example, red for urgent, orange for important, green for `it’s absolutely okay if you skip this one today`. You get the idea!
By doing that, you can just get to work without having to multitask, think about other tasks or have a panic attack because `OMG, there’s so much stuff I need to do right NOW!`.
A final piece of advice
Time management sounds scary and fancy, but it’s not that difficult. We promise you that! For starters, we recommend you to start small, by doing an introductory exercise.
Tomorrow morning, when you wake up, just observe your flow. Notice your habits: how often do you check your social media notifications? What tasks are you doing first? What are your thoughts about them? Just notice, without judging or taking any action yet.
At the end of the day, read our five tips again and start adjusting your daily flow, step by step. Soon, you’ll be making the most out of your 24 hours. Start small, be consistent and you’ll succeed!