Developing Time Management Skills
How to get organized and find more time in a day.
Posted July 27, 2015 | Reviewed by Jessica Schrader
Do you ever feel like there are not enough hours in a day? You run and run around the clock, busy all day long, yet at the end of the day the list of things that you’ve accomplished leaves you feeling unfulfilled. Tired and frustrated, you write another to-do list for the next day and hope you can manage yourself better. And then—surprise—work, kids, bills, laundry, gym, and yet again you find yourself at the end of the day exhausted and with a dozen of unchecked boxes on your to-do list. If you see yourself in this picture, chances are you could benefit from some time management ideas.
When life gets busy, things tend to pile up especially fast. Time management is not about having all of those things done; it’s about having enough time for what matters most to you. Time management is really “personal management” and it is a skill necessary for achieving a better quality of life. By managing your time in a more efficient way, not only you will get the right things done, but you’ll also have enough time to relax, de-stress, and breathe more freely.
Most people think they can manage time effectively by just tagging a few extra hours on—sometimes forfeiting sleep in order to do so. This might sound like a good idea to increase your productivity, but it’s not. People need on average seven to eight hours of sleep to let their body and mind restore themselves. Yes, it has been said before; yet even though everyone knows this, 73% of Americans don’t get enough sleep, according to the National Geographic Channel’s survey. 54% name stress as the main reason for not getting enough night rest, while 37% blame wasted time on social media. If you feel that you have wasted your time, it’s most likely because you haven’t managed it right. A separate survey found that 63% of professionals who identified themselves as lacking time management skills suffered from sleep apnea and blood pressure problems, among other health issues.
Effective time management can not only help you find more hours in a day and get an adequate night’s rest but also, by reducing your stress and anxiety levels, it can ensure that you get a more sound and untroubled sleep. Although successfully adopting this skill does require re-thinking your values and priorities, and making some major sustainable changes to your lifestyle, the resulting benefits are more than worth the effort. Some of the most notable benefits of managing your time better are:
- Reaching your goals
- Finding stability in life
- Improving relationships
- Diminishing procrastination and wasted time
- Increasing productivity
- Finding more free time
- Reducing frustration
- Advancing your career
- Getting more satisfaction from life
- Improving your health
To help streamline your life and get yourself into a better mental and emotional place, don’t put working on your time management skills on tomorrow’s to-do list; start today! Here are six key ideas for taking your time back, and your personal power as a result:
- Know your personal style and Achilles’ heels. Identify those areas that are pain points for you. Are you a procrastinator? Are you scattered in your approach? Do you write things down but then forget where you put the list? These are your obstacles in getting to your goals, the real reasons why you haven’t achieved your desired results in the past. Know where you need to focus your attention and what you need to change in your approach, first and foremost. “Know thyself” is an important first step to making effective change happen.
- Get rid of the to-do list. To-do lists are extremely popular, but unfortunately, they don’t work very well. This is because they don’t take into account what matters most to you, your values, and your priorities. They’re often just lists of all of the things you need to attend to. When you look at the list and just do whatever is next, it can drag you into dealing with menial and mundane tasks or things that demand your immediate attention but have no real impact on your future. Instead, identify your values: What’s most important to you? Then look at what needs to be done and create a priority item list, putting things in order of their importance that connects back to your values.
- Focus each day on your Top 3. Take time at the end of each day for the next day, or before you start a new day to identify your top three items. Move the top three priorities to the top of the list and keep only those in front of you. Keep bringing yourself back to the top three throughout your day as your attention gets pulled in other directions. Instead of focusing on things that leave you feeling like you haven’t made any real headway, focus first on those three most important things—the rest will hopefully fall into place.
- Break the to-do list down into discrete steps. Once you know your Top 3 priorities, create a more granular list of what you need to do. Most people’s to-do lists have BIG to-do’s that need to be broken into smaller pieces in order to be doable. Once you have the smaller pieces, you can assign steps, deadlines, and people to each small piece. It’s easier to make—and see—progress with many small things rather than one large overwhelming one. Taking the time to do this will save you loads of work in the long run.
- Have a place for everything and everything in its place. Vow to stop being scattered. Create your own system and put things where you know you can find them. Disorganized space often leads to a disorganized mind, and both will hinder your progress toward the most important matters and goals in your life. Don’t hesitate to get rid of some of the things that create clutter, and develop a system that works for you. Again, you may need to spend time to organize, but you gain time on the back end.
- Be jealous of your time. Sure, Facebook and Instagram are great fun, and it’s wonderful to be able to keep up with friends and family but watch your time carefully. The more time you spend online, the more difficult it will become to get back to your typically not-so-fun daily priorities. In fact, as an incentive to cut back, consider that researchers have also found that prolonged usage of Facebook can negatively impact one’s self-esteem, and therefore, dampen the confidence and resolve to get things done. Allow yourself 10 minutes for nothingness and then turn your attention back to things that really matter.