“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”
These words by William Penn couldn’t be more accurate. It’s essential to recognize the value of time to succeed in life. If you procrastinate, you will never be able to establish an identity for yourself in any field you choose. Time management skills are essential for life in general and in the workplace in particular. However, effective time management is easier said than done.
All of us have the same 24 hours or a whopping 86,400 seconds per day, but how are some people more successful than others? It all boils down to this very term – practical time management skills.
We should all realize that time is the greatest equalizer in life. Irrespective of your age, income, race, or social status, you only have the same amount of time as others. It’s all ultimately boils down to not about how much time you have. But about how effectively you can manage your time! If you are serious about achieving your goals, you should first set them, prioritize your tasks, and be serious about implementing them. Procrastination has to fall by the wayside, and some good old-fashioned hard work needs to take its place. The trick here is to find a suitable time management method. This process will help you pay attention to how you can utilize the precious little time you have in this world.
What is Time Management?
Time management refers to the art of managing time effectively to improve productivity. This process can be done by correctly determining the amount of time to be spent on each activity for optimal results. Individuals can follow different methods that work for them. One of the most successfully developed methods includes assigning specific time slots to actions based on priorities and importance. While there are several ways to engage your time effectively, time management, in general, includes some important points:
· Effective planning
· Setting goals and deadlines
· Prioritizing activities
· Assigning the right amount of time to each event based on the importance
· Delegating and distributing work and responsibilities to use time effectively
Is time management important for everyone? Yes, of course. Be it your professional life or even organizing your private life, you should manage your time for increased productivity. If you fail to meet targets at your workplace, you will be stressed out, which could affect your personal life as well. Time management at home can improve your quality of life and relationships, too. Sounds like a good bargain, right?
Benefits of Time Management
Proper time management is all about improved efficiency and productivity, leading to success. Here are some of the benefits of managing time effectively:
With proper time management, you can find a lot of additional time to try out personal tasks. It could be a new hobby you always wished to pursue, learning music or even developing your business further, now that you have more time to spare.
Managing time leads to increased opportunities in both your personal and professional life. If a loved one has been complaining that you never have enough time for them, now is the time to improve your relationship. More opportunities will pour your way as practical time management skills is an outstanding quality that employers look for.
Procrastination increases stress! When you follow a pre-planned schedule, your anxiety levels are reduced, and you can visibly measure your progress. When you are organized, you feel in charge of your life, with less stress and an improved mental state.
In pursuit of our goals, the biggest mistake we make is neglecting our health. It’s not without reason that you hear the saying, ‘Health is wealth’ often. Getting stressed, wasting time on useless pursuits, and lack of organization is a recipe for disaster. With an effective time management plan in place, you can set aside time for yoga, the gym, or an activity like jogging to remain in the pink of health.
Ability to Achieve Goals
Individuals with excellent time management skills, achieve goals in a shorter time.
Never underestimate the worth of a good night’s sleep! Lack of proper management often sees us stretch our tasks late into the night, affecting our sleep schedule. When you set aside time for various responsibilities, you should wind up your day with sufficient time to catch up on at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. This rest will leave you fresh to pursue your tasks the next day.
How Can You Improve Your Time Management Skills?
Time by itself is an important concept. With a firm strategy, we can manage and keep time. This habit enables us to lead a more fulfilling life. You can also look back with satisfaction at the time saved and fine-tune your strategy. Seconds saved add up to minutes, and minutes add up to hours, thus giving precious time to live your personal life. Here is one of the most effective ways of time management, which has been practiced with success worldwide.
How Can The 15-Minute Time Management Strategy Change Your Life?
One of the best methods is to start spending 15 minutes at the end of every day in planning your following day’s schedule. It’s simple, effective, and you hardly lose any time. Fifteen minutes is an excellent time to get ahead, to make a new beginning, and to know what the next step is. Starting today, find out an empty 15-minute time slot at the end of the day when you complete your work. It is so easy that everyone can do it. Retrospect on your day, what you have accomplished, and how fulfilled you feel. Look back at what you could improve.
Plan for the next day, taking up one or more tasks or problems that you need to address. Think of all the goals which you wish to accomplish, your tasks for the day ahead, and how to achieve them within a fixed time frame.
The Thought Process
If you wonder whether 15 minutes is enough time to plan for the whole day, think again! If you close your eyes and meditate for 15 minutes, it does feel like a long time. All you need to do is focus on all essential tasks and jot down your thoughts on how to get things done. If you repeat this with a 100% commitment, you will be surprised just how much you can get done in 15 minutes.
The key reason is that all the hard work and time consumption lies in the thinking and planning stage, NOT the doing.
Fifteen minutes is often a good enough time slot to get ahead, make a start, and to find your next step. At the end of every day, look out for an empty 15-minute time-slot in your schedule. Use it wisely to chart out a course in your daily life. Don’t wrongly assume that this is just going to help you solve problems or complete challenging tasks on time. It also enables you to run your life in a disciplined manner. There are some significant advantages of taking 15 minutes off daily to plan and retrospect.
You Are Up And Running In The Morning
Almost all of us begin slowly in the morning. Catching up on beauty sleep, snoozing the alarm, rushing to office, and so on. When you arrive at the office, you check on your colleagues, de-clutter your inbox, and by the time you reach your first task, there’s already plenty of time wasted. The 15-minute planning method helps you schedule your time right from when you wake up. Plan to awaken early in the morning. You could set aside some time for your health like indulging in jogging, yoga, or some peaceful meditation.
Adapt Keystone Habits and Eliminate bad habits.
Adapting keystone habits will help not only to solicit other good habits but also eliminate your bad habits. When you focus on keystone habits, you get much better at managing your time. Whether it’s wasting time on social media, excessive Netflix watching, or going out with friends excessively; bad habits take away the precious little time that we have. Use your time wisely to achieve big goals in life.
Saves Time At The Office
When you get to the workplace, instead of procrastinating, you can immediately dive into essential tasks. This process ensures that many of your responsibilities are done by lunch. When you have a strict schedule, you would not be reading mindless emails or spending time on the phone. The planning you did the day before helps visualize what your day will look like as a whole.
Your planning also brings to light about any prep time you may need before beginning anything. This little planning session not only helps you in your personal life but professional life as well. It enables you to prioritize important things. Planning the day also shows you where you can save time in different areas.
Balance Your Personal and Professional Life
Besides taking care of your professional life, this could help with your own life too. Reserving some time for loved ones, taking your children to a nearby park, or simply taking a quiet stroll with your spouse – there’s plenty that you can accommodate. You can also delegate important work to your subordinates, thereby immediately freeing up hours.
It helps infuse mental strength and determination for your tasks since it gives you the confidence of completion. You can leave your workplace somewhat relaxed and not feeling like you have to stay up all night to get everything done. This organization reduces unnecessary stress in your life. You could schedule a proper time for sleep, your me-time besides prioritizing some time for your family and health. At first, this may be like an extra 15 minutes to your calendar. But with time, you realize that the 15-minute method is how you could be successful.
Scheduling tasks is a skill, no doubt. More important is creating a flexible schedule. There are several effective time planning methods that you can follow to ensure your life is in order. Here we discuss a few of them which you can follow.
The 15 Minute Method
Here, you can divide your entire day into 15-minute blocks to give structure and flexibility to your to-do list for the day. Sounds complicated? – It isn’t as hard as it sounds, after all.
The 15 Minute Method is powerful and will push you to your limits to complete tasks you have been procrastinating for long. Many people get overwhelmed when they have a big task at hand, and the 15-minutes method is a great solution, which helps you break it down effectively to fit into the time slots. Before we explain more on this, follow a few steps of planning and scheduling your activities for the day.
Prepare a to-do List
To assign tasks to 15-minute time slots, you must first prepare a to-do list. The popular misconception is that multi-tasking is effective time management. Instead, it is about the right prioritizing of your tasks and completing them within the stipulated time frame. Hence choose your to-do list tasks wisely.
Prioritize Your Tasks
We insist on this point time and again. Always prioritize your tasks for the day to fit into those 15-minute slots. Unimportant work is going to leave you drained and consume your time when you have left behind essential duties at peril. This type of prioritizing is the most important thing to do in your quest for effective time management.
It’s all going to boil down to nothing if you stress yourself out in the act of dividing tasks into time slots. Avoiding stress at your workplace improves your productivity and health significantly. Enjoy the time you spend with colleagues and family to leave you sorted for implementing time management strategies.
Now that you have your to-do list ready read on to find out more about how the 15-minute time management method works.
· As a first step, assign 15 minutes for a task and no longer than that. You can divide your job into subtasks as well to fit into that time-slot.
· Work hard on the task those 15 minutes. Make sure you take no breaks and are not distracted during that time. Work on the task with sincerity. Simple isn’t it, given the short time-frame!
· Set your timer at 15 minutes, and keep your mind clear of unnecessary thoughts.
· At the end of 15 minutes, you can reward yourself with a break or indulge in something you enjoy.
· This is a fail-proof method of overcoming procrastination, but you must be sincere in your efforts.
It is a psychological relief when big tasks are broken into 15-minute time slots so that they don’t seem intimidating anymore. Since your mind gets set on working on the action for only 15 minutes, you feel relaxed and at ease.
While this is an effective clincher to success in the workplace, it could work in any aspect of your life. This method works while cleaning, studying for your exams, engaging in household chores, and much more.
Follow the Glass Jar Method: Rocks, Pebbles, Sand – with a twist!
· According to a popular story, rocks are equivalent to some of the essential things in your life. If you don’t have sand and pebbles, your jar could still be full of rocks.
· The pebbles represent the other things that matter in your life, which may come and go. They are not permanent and not as crucial as rocks.
· The sand represents all the remaining small stuff and little tasks in your life. They don’t make your life meaningful.
The message here is that if you fill your jar with sand, you will not have space for the rocks and pebbles. This manner means that if you spend all your time on small and insignificant things, you will not find time for essential things. Hence to have more effective time management, you can prioritize important things first, followed by the less-important stuff or pebbles. Last comes the least important thing in your life. You can apply this method for your day-to-day life too.
You do not have to follow this method exactly as told but can modify a bit too. Instead of diligently working according to priority, you could do a mix of few rocks, then a few pebbles, sand, and follow it again. The reason we suggest this method is because, if your list of such lower priority tasks continues to grow, it will lead to unnecessary stress. And focusing on only the most essential things is a pain since it will take longer to complete and more bandwidth to accomplish.
You can also set goals at the macro level, say monthly and prioritize essential things at the micro level keeping it flexible according to need.
A matrix of tasks is also a useful tool to categorize and prioritize your time. All you need to do is take a sheet of paper and draw a big cross. The two lines represent the urgency of the task(horizontal) and the importance of it(vertical). Thus you have four quadrants now.
Here’s what each quadrant represents.
Q1 or the Top Left Box:
This box represents tasks that are important and urgent, too. All projects which are a part of your strategy and need to be implemented with a strict deadline can be jotted down here. It could include client calls, payment of bills, etc. Q1 is your most important box.
Q2 or the Top Right Box:
Q2 represents an important task but not as urgent as Q1. This section will contain planned tasks, thereby helping you meet your long term goals and help in managing your time better in the future.
Q3 or the Bottom Left Box:
This box represents work that is not important but urgent. Besides your Q1 box, you will have to deal with these to not miss out on the completion of your immediate work. It could be meetings, unresolved differences in your team, and so on. Once you start on Q1, you can take a break, complete these, and move back to Q1.
Q4 or the Bottom Right Box:
The least essential box, this should contain the not important, not urgent issues. Try to delegate these as much as possible as it could save you precious time; you may otherwise be wasting. You can even cancel them if you can afford to since the time spent on these tasks should not over-shadow your other important schedules and deadlines for the day.
We love this method since this can make it easier to plan your day or even week ahead. Since you categorize your projects, you will realize what is essential and not fret over unnecessary details. Besides, it gives you a clear visual picture of how your priorities should be.
The other effective strategies, or should we say, little secrets involve the following.
Do not carry the entire burden of completing a task on your head. Delegate tasks to your subordinates and colleagues, trust them and make them feel confident and important. Seek help whenever required and relax where you need just to supervise. This process is not just for managers but for women at home too. Delegate tasks to every family member. They will not only learn in the process but appreciate you more for what you do when they experience it themselves. A win-win situation in every aspect!
Review Your Progress
What is effective time management if you can’t maintain a chart or review your progress. Record all your activities and the time taken, thereby helping you identify the productive time. Keeping track of your non-productive time can help you work towards eliminating it. Post achieving them, revise your time management goals to improve your efficiency.
Time management skills are in high demand, especially at the workplace. Managers usually access employees by their ability to manage time and their effectiveness in achieving the goals set for them effectively. Many companies use time management software to schedule tasks, delegate, manage them, and meet deadlines.
Top Time-Management Tools
Tick helps you keep track of the time your employees work. It can track time over different platforms and is excellent for both freelancers as well as big teams. Get all the tasks in your to-do list done in no time, seamlessly. You can create projects, assign specific tasks to members, and get high-quality reports which enable you to analyze time management. While you have a free version, and premium versions ranching from $19.99/month on up.
As the name specifies, Rescue Time helps you convert unproductive time into productive ones. You can track time usage, understand your behavior, and rectify procrastination. Like Tick, it has a free version which has basic tracking and goal setting, and access to three months of records. To track time away from your desk, you should opt for the premium version at US$6 per month for individual plans.
You can customize and schedule your task every morning, ticking off tasks as you complete them. Like other time management software, it helps you track time and get more done daily. It helps you set both recurring events and essential one-off tasks. Every day, you will receive a schedule of jobs helping you to plan your time effectively. The premium version of Todoist is available for as little as $3/month.
Toggl integrates with many different project management systems, thereby adding its dimension to quality time tracking. It helps your team and you to be more productive throughout the day. You can add unlimited projects and get reports featuring the progress of your organization. Time can be tracked both online and offline and integrates seamlessly with top productivity tools such as Trello and Asana. It has an annual subscription rate of $7.20/month.
Hubstaff helps to track the time by your team on work as well as leisure time. It enables you to track time spent on tasks with screenshots and reports on the team’s time usage. It is also useful for your business since it helps you make payments to employees based on the time they worked. You can either download a free version for a single user or purchase the premium plans starting at $7/month/user.
Right from students to businesspersons, proper time tracking is necessary for the successful completion of any task. When you learn to stop procrastinating and use time properly, you will be entirely in control of your time and life. Last but not least, don’t bite off more than you can chew! Understand your limitations; it’s better to succeed at a few tasks than fail in many. Remember, you can always set your chaotic schedule right with some planning. Don’t forget to take the necessary breaks, though, which are a secret to success.