Have you ever sit and think at the end of your day and ask yourself, have I done anything useful with my time today? Then you sit for a moment and then realized that you have actually wasted a lot of your time in a given day. Failing to manage your time damages your effectiveness and could cause stress.
In this post we are going to look at Time Management Skills closely and see what we can do to at least use our time wisely in a given day instead of wasting it unnecessary.
What is Time Management?
I think Time management is a process of planning, optimizing or organizing your time on specific activities so that you can get things done effectively and efficiently.
Time is one of the most precious assets we have in our careers or maybe in our lives. Well every minute that passes by is a minute you can’t get back. We waste time everyday in all kinds of ways. Sometimes we focus on the wrong work or the right work at the wrong time, or maybe we put more time on unnecessary issues or even socializing. The point is we are so bad at managing time and to be able to manage our time wisely, we need to be time conscious.
How To Manage Your Time
To some people, it seems like 24 hours isn’t enough for a day, maybe because they love their job, for others, this isn’t the case. We all have the same 24 hours; but why others accomplish or achieve a lot in a given day and others don’t? It’s because, some people are very good at managing their time. You hear a lot of people claiming to be too busy, but what are they busy doing with their time? Being busy isn’t the same as being effective. You can be busy doing unnecessary things, or wasting your time doing things that have no value.
Now let’s check out 20 tips that I think we should look at to easily manage our time effectively and become more productive in our careers or in our lives.
1.Create a To-do-list
If time is used and managed wisely we can accomplish a lot in a given day. Whether you’re working for someone or for yourself you need to create time for everything. One way to achieve this is by creating a To-Do-List and arrange them in order of there urgency or importance. This should guide you throughout the day so that you will be able to accomplish tasks effectively and efficiently without stress.
You can use sticky notes ? and paste it on a wall or use the sticky notes tool that came with your operating system on your computer for visibility. This could really be useful because you have your tasks right in front you.
2. Audit Your Time
Are you spending more time on certain tasks than you shouldn’t?. If so, try to audit your time to make sure you limit the time you spend on those tasks. If you’re to spend 1 hour on a task, make sure it’s not way more than that. You need to examine your work-flow to be more productive. Remember what I said earlier, to manage our time wisely, we need to be time conscious.
3. Prioritize Tasks
You of course need to prioritize some tasks over others. When you start work first thing in the morning try to accomplish the most important tasks first, because at that moment you are fresh and just starting the day and it’s the best time to handle important tasks than waiting till the middle or end of the day when you’re almost exhausted.
4.Make Plans for The Week on Your Day Off
On your day off, like a Sunday, could be the best day for you to plan your week’s tasks. Take at least 30 minutes on your day off to jot down the tasks of the upcoming week. Write down the tasks with a start time and an end time. This could definitely help.
Always try to go to work as early as possible. This will help you to be able to accomplish your daily tasks early. If you were supposed to be at work at 8:00AM and you stepped in at 10:00AM, that means you’ve wasted 2hrs of work time. And you’ll end up on a rush to complete your day’s task, which could be very stressful and ineffective. And your boss, of course, won’t be happy with that.
If you’re working for yourself, you’ve freedom, but you still need that early morning energy.
6.Get Enough Sleep
Working too hard and not having enough sleep isn’t good for your brain. Your brain and body needs to relax. At least have eight hours of sleep everyday. Well, I think I’m kind of guilty on this one. I usually spend the whole night working on personal projects; which I may not be able to do during the day because of my full-time teaching job and the continuous interruption at work.
To be honest, I love my jobs and 24 hrs just seems to be too small for me. I normally to go to bed around 3AM or 4AM almost everyday and expect to go to work at around 8AM or 9AM. This obviously, isn’t a good practice. My advice is, go to bed early to get enough sleep, wake up early so that you can be able to accomplish your day’s tasks early.
Sometimes get away from the office, or close the door, get yourself a quiet time to think and concentrate without interruption.
You may also get rid of things that could distracts you, like a buzzing smartphone with messages showing up on your screen which you may not be able to ignore or resist. To better concentrate, turn off your Internet connection or anything that could distract your moment of quietness. Don’t always answer to the phone because it’s ringing, avoid interruptions and distractions when trying concentrate on something very important.
8. Work Steadily Without Stress
Work steadily and stay at your best pace. Rushing through tasks could reduce quality and standards and creates stress.
When people look at you at work, what do they think? Do they think you’re always available, is it okay to always walk over to you and interrupt what you’re doing? Well, I may not know the answer to that question, but you should be thinking about it and go a step further to be proactive by communicating your availability. Find a way to let people know whether you’re available or not.
If you’re having an office you may want to communicate your availability by placing a Do not Disturb notice at your door ? for example, or if it’s a cubicle try to find a way to communicate with your colleagues on your availability.
10. Sometimes You Need To Say NO
Well, this might sound weird, but sometimes we just need to say no instead of always saying yes. But do it in a polite way. Let’s say someone just steps in, your colleague for example and ask you to do something for them. Most of you will just say yes, okay, sure. We do this, but we shouldn’t do it all the time. Sometimes you just need to say NO. Tell them something like this, yes I can help you, but not right now. Most people will definitely understand and just say, okay and then leave. By doing that you’ve just minimize the interruption and saved yourself some time and continue on what you were doing.
11. Automate, Delegate or Outsource Tasks
A times you may have a lot of work at hand which won’t be easy for you to accomplish alone. You may want to automate some tasks using a computer or delegate some tasks to others like your subordinates or co-workers, or maybe you could also think of outsourcing some tasks. This could definitely reduce the work load and also reduces stress.
Sometimes even if you’ve a To-do-list; an unexpected task could just pop up from nowhere. Then the skills of multitasking could come into play in such cases. But note that, not all tasks are equal, some tasks need total concentration in which multitasking could be a bad idea . You need to be very careful of multitasking to maintain quality standards when you work.
13. Set Break Times
If you work for hours, you may need to have some break and relax your brain so that you can feel fresh again when you get back to work. That’s why break times are always set in almost all work places for employees to take a break. If you’re independently working for yourself you need to give yourself some break too at your own time.
14. Make Good Use of Waiting Times
It happens to everyone sometimes finding yourself in a queue, waiting room or bus station. Well, imagine waiting in a queue for about 30 minutes. You could use that time to read a book or check and respond to emails or even take notes or whatever you could do to make sure that time is not wasting. It’s all about being time conscious!
15.Find Time for Improvement
I hear a lot of people say, I’m too busy at work to learn. Well, like I always say, “if you’re not improving then you’re stagnating, and that’s the last thing you want for yourself”. Always find time to learn and improve on your skills even if it’s four hours a week. You already know how to handle your current job, so you need to improve to get prepared for the next level.
Take some courses, attend seminars, workshops or join groups related to your work that could help you improve on your skills. Most employers provide a staff development program for their employees, which you could use to improve yourself and could lead you to a promotion. If staff development isn’t available try to save some money to pay for your courses. If this is still a problem, find a better job that could provide these benefits for you. There is a saying:
“Build your dreams or some else will hire you to build theirs“
Never forget about yourself.
16. Set Time For Workouts
To stay healthy, you need to keep exercising. Schedule a time during the week for workouts, whether to the gym or jogging, at least 3 times in a week.
If you have many email accounts like me, you may want to find a way to organize them in a way that you could save some time checking all of them. By using your phone’s email app or your computer’s email application like Mozilla Thunderbird or Microsoft Office Outlook, you could add all your email accounts to have one place to check for emails. Or you may also use email forwarding, which lets you send a copy of an email to another email account you chose.
18. Use Reminders
Use reminders on your phone or computer to keep track of deadlines or upcoming events.
19. Have Time for Fun
As the saying goes, “All work no play makes Jack a dull boy“. Find some time during the weekend to hangout with friends and turn-off your work brain and focus on the fun. Trust me, this could be very useful.
20. Family Time
No matter how busy your schedule is, always have time for your family. Well, you may hear some people say, I’m working both day and night to sustain a living for my family, so they should understand if I’m not always available. You may just not know how appreciative it is to just even spend half of a day with your family. If you don’t spend time with them, you’re disconnecting yourself from them which could lead to so many issues in the future.
The African Time Concept
A cultural tendency in parts of Africa, where people have the habit of being late for appointments, meetings or events. It is also known as Black People’s Time. This has been a key topic of criticism in Africa. This has to change. You gave someone an appointment at 12PM, the person shows up at 1:00PM and has the guts to say it’s African time. We must make an end to this concept for us to develop, because everything happens in time.
I hope these 20 Time Management Tips were helpful and you would consider practicing them to become more productive in whatever you’re doing. Always be time conscious in anything you do, this could lead to a wonderful life and a successful career. Thanks for reading and see you on the next post.
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Ousman Faal [Digital Vigilante] is a Tech Entrepreneur & Digital Skills Trainer who teaches both in the classroom and online. He has experience in various technologies and likes sharing it with others. Ousman has published 144 articles on this blog. He is the CEO of Faalen Technologies and Skills.gm.