Good time management skills know no age! Whether you’re a student trying to ensure all your school work is done on time or you’ve got a career, responsibilities, and a family and you’re looking to find ways to get everything done, you need good management skills. Hack your day with plenty of tips and tricks that allow you to get everything you need to be done with time to spare. After all, good time management skills can set you up for good health and success!
Time Management for Business Professionals
1. Plan Ahead
Once you know what you need to accomplish in your upcoming days, weeks, or even months, you can start to plan out everything you need to get done. Make a list of everything you would like to get done at work the following day and try to figure out what you will need to complete these tasks. The more you plan, the easier it is to stick to your schedule!
2. Be Ready to Re-Assess
Things are always changing and while change can be hard, it’s important to just stay calm and re-adjust your day. Taking a few minutes to stop and re-plan out your entire day may feel counter-intuitive since you aren’t truly working during that span of time, but it will pay off in the end as it will help you determine how to handle everything that comes your way.
If you have a handful of projects at once, it can be overwhelming so before you start any of them, you should sit down and determine which tasks are the most critical and which ones have the biggest impact. Those are the projects you should get started on first. While you’re working on these projects, they should be your biggest priority: focus on them, not your cell phone or emails! Those little distractions will only slow you down.
4. Break it Down
Big projects can be daunting and overwhelming, but much like a mountain is made up of a bunch of rocks, big projects are made up of smaller, easier-to-manage pieces. Break your projects up into smaller parts that can be finished in a few hours or days. This will help to destress you as well as plan out the entire project into manageable tasks that are easy to start.
5. Keep Your Calendar Close
Even though so much is done digitally these days, it can be incredibly beneficial to have a paper calendar or planner close to you with everything you need to get done. That way you can open your planner and see a whole month ahead of you instead of looking at things day by day like you can have on your phone. This also eliminates the possibility of double-booking and allows you to pull out your cell phone to ensure you are free while you are talking on the phone.
6. Keep Your Desk Clear
A cluttered space is a cluttered brain! It makes it harder to focus on what you need to work on because there are so many distractions in your line of sight that you may find more interesting than your work. Take the time to clean up your space and reset your mind so you’ll be ready to tackle the workload.
7. Do Not Disturb
If you can, put up a “do not disturb” sign of some sort that way you won’t get carried away with the distractions people bring up to you and you can give your projects your full attention. If you don’t have an office, let your co-workers know you’re on a deadline and won’t be available. Headphones are also a great way to signal to other people that you can’t talk right now! You can also use a Do Not Disturb function on your phone to limit further distraction.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”
Remember: No is a full sentence. If you already have too much on your plate you don’t have to say yes to more work or invitations that you can’t do at the moment and that’s okay. In order to manage your time effectively, you don’t have to work on tasks that won’t have a significant impact on you and your work. If there are too many important things that must be done, you may need to delegate these tasks to other people.
9. Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate
Some people get nervous thinking about handing off tasks to other people, but asking for help is not as scary as you make it out to be. In fact, asking is preferable to telling people they have to do something and will lead your coworkers to be more willing to help. Keep in mind when you ask for help, you need to trust others to do the task without you looking over their shoulder.
At the end of the day, take stock of what you accomplished and figure out what worked and what didn’t work. Sometimes you may find that even with time management, you didn’t hit your goals because your deadlines weren’t realistic. This realization is great for the learning process because it allows you to understand what will work better next time.
Time Management for Students
1. To-Do Lists
To-Do lists are an effective way to stay on track as they allow you a visual record of everything that needs to be accomplished and a visual of what you’ve finished. This shows you exactly how much you’ve done and how much you have left to do. You can even reward yourself for every completed task!
3. Eliminate Distractions
It’s easier to focus when you don’t have things around you that will distract you so clear out your space, put your phone away, turn off the TV, and close any unnecessary tabs on your computer.
4. Develop an Anti-Procrastination Plan
Calendars with all your deadlines and due dates as well as daily to-do lists are simple and effective ways to keep you from procrastinating. Everything you need to do can be broken down into smaller and less daunting tasks that don’t take long to do and you’ll be surprised at how quickly those little tasks work together to complete the larger tasks!
5. Set a Study Schedule
Set aside a specified set of time every day for school alone and make sure everybody you love understands when it is so you aren’t disturbed. If you need to, you can hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door to get your point across. The most important thing is that you stick to this schedule!
6. Time Wasters
You may feel like you have no time in your day, but consider how much time you waste surfing the Internet, watching TV, playing games, or browsing social media. Instead of prioritizing them as procrastination methods, make them rewards for completing things on your to-do list.
There’s nothing that saves time quite like effective organization. You can create a filing system with easy-to-understand categories to not only help you find documents easier but also keeps your study area clutter-free.
8. Use Downtime to Your Advantage
There are always parts of your day when you don’t have anything to do that you may not have thought to take advantage of! Things like sitting alone during your lunch break or waiting in a doctor’s office are great times to study your notes or read a chapter for class.
9. Find Your “Productive Time Zone”
Not everybody works best on the same schedule! Take stock of what parts of the day you are most productive and energetic and schedule your times in class as close to those times as possible to keep your productivity levels up.
10. Create a Time Budget
Find out how much time you spend on activities for work, family, chores, or school and allocate certain spans of time in your day and week to get those taken care of. This determines that your days are well spent and can help you figure out if you have free time for additional commitments.
Additional Tips and Tricks for Time Management
- Stress and Time Management: This document from the CDC includes a checklist for lifestyle coaches and a deep dive into what stress is, the different forms of stress, and how to handle it.
- Time Management: Getting organized and planning your day is essential for time management, but it can be difficult to get started, this page offers some great tips for getting started on your journey to good time management.
- Tips for Time Management: This handout lists some great tips and tricks for effective time management and gives you questions to ask yourself to help you get on track.
- How to Manage Your Stress and Time Even Better: The Free Management Library put together an article about time management and stress. It includes myths and major causes as well as how to combat these stressful feelings.
- Time Management is About More Than Life Hacks: With so many different life hack articles coming out about managing your time, it can be easy to get sucked into trying these life hacks, but time management is about more than fancy tips and tricks that may not work!
- Time Management Tips: Academic Tips has created a list of seven tips for helping you manage your personal time which include questions to ask yourself in a way that you can visualize how much time you use up.
- 9 Proven Time Management Techniques and Tools: These tips and techniques are better than a few life hacks, these are techniques that have been proven to be helpful for other people and may be helpful for you as well.
- Time Management Tips: This page from the Dartmouth Academic Skills Center not only has tips and tricks for managing your time, but it also includes a quiz so you can see just how good you are at planning your time.
- Managing Stress: Bad time management leads to stressful situations which are not only frustrating but can be bad for your long-term health. So, managing stress by perfecting time management is a great way to ensure you’re happier and healthier.
- Manipulate Time with These Powerful Time Management Tips: While you may not be doing magic, you are giving yourself more time in your day by planning it out and using helpful tips and tricks to get everything done without stressing yourself out.