1. Recognise the value of your time.
Think about how much your time means to you before you commit to something. If you agree to spend your time volunteering for example, think about how much time you are willing to spend. This will help you feel good about your contribution, without feeling like you are spreading yourself thin.
We also tend to undervalue our waiting time. So much time is spent waiting … queueing in lines, waiting for appointments. Learn how to be organized to waste less waiting time.
2. Use the first 10-20 minutes of each day to set priorities for the day.
For some of us, each day brings a new set of challenges. Take 10-20 minutes at the start of your day to focus on what’s important and what can wait until tomorrow. This helps you prioritise and make sure the important stuff gets done first.
Our Goals & Priorities Diary can help you structure your day/week/month and ensure you get your most important tasks done every day.
3. Identify short and long term goals.
Often your short term goals help you get to your long term goals. Having all of your ‘ducks in a line’ will help streamline the path you take to achieving your goals.
Try not to get caught up in time wasting goals that don’t help you now, or in the future. Keep you goals simple, do-able and effective.
4. Write a to-do list.
An absolute staple in my every day life. I am a list-maker and I am proud! I write my list during point 2 above. I keep my weekly calendar close by and jot down what I need to remember over the course of that week. I love it, and it really works for me. Other ideas are whiteboards, blackboards and post it notes.
Writing a to-do list helps you overcome the feeling of overwhelm. Find great tips on creating a magic to-do list here.
5. Allocate your time.
Setting time frames for your daily tasks helps to maintain your schedule.
For example, I have allocated 2 hours to write an article. This time frame keeps me focused. I know that if I’m not finished by my deadline, then this time will encroach on another project and I will be behind. Possibly late to pick my kids up from school. Which means I’ll pay late fees. Which means I won’t have extra shopping money. And so this cycle of “keep on time” is motivating because … I really want a new pair of shoes!
6. Factor in flexibility.
As much as it’s wise to plan things for the day, be prepared for your plans to go astray!
Having an easy-going attitude when things don’t go to plan helps. Try to reassess the interruption as quickly as possible. Reschedule what you can and remember that when tomorrow morning arrives, you’ll be back to point #2.
7. Learn how to say No.
Learning to say no nicely is an art.
If you need some help graciously declining requests that don’t meet your priorities, take a quick lesson now.
8. Realize that perfectionism is not your friend.
I know we have a lot of perfectionists in our community. Letting go of perfectionist standards on things that really don’t matter is a huge mindset change.
Take a minute to read 7 biggest reasons why you aren’t productive and see how many resonate with you.
In your planning stages it is important to consider who else can help. It might be a colleague, friend, your child, or even the boss. If delegation is an option then delegate! Delegating can improve time constraints and task outcomes.
If you’re not used to delegating try it. The key is clear communication. Set a task, allocate the person, give them a deadline, allow them to ask questions, leave them to do it. It may not be done to your standard the first time, but gentle encouragement and guidance will help them, and you, in the long run.
It’s nice to reward our little triumphs as well as the big ones. If you are usually a huge time waster yet today you managed to complete your to-do list with time to spare, then give yourself a pat on the back. Shout yourself a coffee. Put your feet up and read your favorite magazine. Put on your favorite music and dance around. Why not.
The truth is that nobody else will be as excited about your time management skills as you are, so celebrate yourself!