So often, proper time management is defined by how much a person can pack into their day compared to another. The truth is, knowing how to get more things done in a day is itself dependent on knowing how to work within your boundaries.
Resources, abilities, responsibilities, priorities: all of this tends to differ from person to person, and keeping this in mind when we sit down to plan our day can make a big difference to the efficacy of our time usage. In other words, it’s about turning your time constraints to your advantage instead of working against them.
For example, a senior manager with four kids will have very different priorities, responsibilities, and levels of expertise from a newly hired fresh graduate who’s single. Hence, even if they’re assigned the same to-do lists, the way they each structure their time is going to differ.
Think about it: maximising your productivity is about working smarter, not harder. Likewise, maximising your 24 hours is also about being smarter with how you structure your time instead of just blindly trying to get as many things as done as possible.
In that regard, here are ten time management tips you can use to learn to structure your time more effectively. Then sign up for SSA Academy’s WSQ course on developing personal effectiveness so you can bring your A-game all day, every day!
It’s easy to lose focus on the bigger picture in favour of the nitty-gritty of your everyday tasks. You could be ticking thirty things off your list each day, but if they’re not taking you closer to your long-term goals, you’re mostly just jogging on the spot instead of moving forward.
Structuring your time well requires that you know what you want to achieve not just by the end of the day but by the end of the week, month, quarter, and beyond.
That way, when you sit down to plan what you’re going to accomplish every day, you can divide up your 24 hours more purposefully towards achieving your long-term goals.
If you focus exclusively on packing your day with as many things as possible, your daily to-do lists most likely stretch far beyond what you can realistically accomplish in a day.
Thanks to the delightful Marie Kondo, we know that de-cluttering the workspace improves productivity and focus, and reduces stress. It’s the same with your to-do lists.
Some people are most alert first thing in the morning, others after midday. Some people are most creative in the evenings, others in the mornings.
It all depends on your own personal physical and mental rhythms. If you know that mornings are when you’re at full functioning capacity, it’s better to devote them to the more mentally strenuous tasks on your list than on relatively easier ones like responding to emails.
We all have meetings and other blocked-out times over the course of the day. If you can calibrate how you work to suit the way your body and mind works, though, you’re working with instead of against yourself.
Don’t give yourself an open-ended window on every task. Regardless of how much or how little time you actually have, the more you feel like you’ve got lots of time on your hands, the more likely you are to let things drag on unnecessarily.
Limiting yourself to a certain amount of time for each task gives you a greater sense of urgency that will push you to be as efficient as you possibly can.
Trying to do three things at once actually slows you down because your brain naturally has to rewire itself each time you switch tasks.
To speed up, practice greater mental efficiency by focusing on the same task instead of stretching them thinly over multiple tasks.
Whatever your most important goals are, you need to respect them by making sure you dedicate a completely distraction-free block of time each day towards them.
For instance, if you have a side hustle that you’re serious about turning into a full-fledged business someday, you need to set aside a few hours every day without fail to grow it incrementally.
Cut out social media and any other unnecessary interruptions during these few hours so you can go into deep focus mode and make your time work for you.
Instead of scrolling through Facebook or Instagram while waiting for the trains to arrive during peak hours, be more intentional about how you fill up your dead time.
Don’t waste it. Use it to check your progress on your goals or plan how you’re going to spend the next workday. Read a book, watch a TED talk–do something productive that contributes to your general well-being.
You might think you’ve got a pretty good hold on time management. If you make it a point to track precisely how you’re using your time over the course of the day, though, you’ll find that there are always improvements to be made.
It might be that you’re spending more time on emails than necessary. It could be that your team meetings are taking up more time than they should. Seeing exactly where your time goes gives you a clearer idea of what changes you have to make and where.
Being consistent with how you spend your time is imperative to making good progress towards your goals. Before you can settle on a personal routine that works for you and your time, though, you cannot be afraid to experiment.
You have to keep trying new things, introducing new habits, and re-allocating your time over the course of the day to find the best time management solutions for yourself.
De-stressing is not a luxury; it’s a necessity if you plan on always being at the top of your game. Pushing yourself to make full use of every second towards achieving your goals will tire you out rapidly if you don’t make it a point to schedule in time for yourself to recharge regularly.
Decide what works best for you to unwind–whether it’s meditation, creating art, reading, or otherwise–and incorporate it into your daily or weekly routines.