Time Management Skills: Never Too Early or Too Late
Time management skills are an absolute waste of time if you don’t know where you’re going. Or if you don’t have a clue how to get there. Add a lack of planning and habitual procrastination and you have a lethal concoction.
Effective time management is an awareness of the link between what you are doing and where you want your destination to be. If there’s no meaningful connection, it’s time to hear the clock ticking…
“Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.”
Stephen Covey advised that efficiency wins the day when you schedule your priorities, as opposed to prioritizing your schedule.
How to Manage Your Time According to 18 Accomplished Professionals
- Block out periods on your calendar to accomplish the critical elements.
- It’s okay to say “no”.
- You must take immediate action.
- Use a digital task list.
- Prioritize priorities by making a daily list of what to accomplish.
- Create awareness by evaluating the past week.
- Multi-tasking does not work.
- Don’t neglect 15 or 30 minute slots because a calendar defaults to one-hour blocks.
- It’s about energy management.
- To manage your actions, you need to manage your emotions.
- Eliminate, automate or delegate tasks.
- Put away your phone if it’s distracting you.
- A to-do list will never go out of style.
- Check your email only three times per day.
- View time as a commodity and investment.
- Get ready for your work week by pre-planning.
- Create your priority list the night before.
- Prioritize based on which tasks will provide the biggest results.
1. Time Management Skills: Block Out Periods on Your Calendar
Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal, PhD, CEO/Founder, Resilience Leadership
Organize your to-do list in several sections that include: Items you will complete that day, usually the top 3-5 critical items, along with longer-term tasks and deliverables, as well as other items related to friends and family, personal/home projects, etc.
This way, you’ll focus on the critical items that need to be completed that day and also make time to clean out your closets, repaint your bathroom, and deep clean your carpets in order to effectively balance the demands on your time.
Block Your Time: Once you have your to-do list, look at your calendar and block out the time periods you need to accomplish the top 3-5 critical elements on your to-do list for the day.
Pro-tip: Add 33% more time to complete a task than you think you need. Usually, we underestimate how long items on our to-do list will take.
By over-scheduling the time we think we need, we build in a margin for error and are more likely to complete our deliverables on time.
In this way, your to-do list translates to your calendar, ensuring your time is used to work on the most important items.
Minimize Distractions (and Meetings): Many of us have asked ourselves, “Do we really need a meeting for this?” or have seen a calendar invite on our schedule only to wonder what that meeting is actually about.
Maintain your focus by having a clear purpose, agenda, and objectives for all meetings you schedule or accept on your calendar.
In addition, maximizing your time for work productivity, eliminating distractions will ensure that you don’t complete easier tasks that are not high priority or wonder where large swaths of time disappeared while you were on Instagram.
Pro-tip: In order to guard against these inevitable intrusions, you can put your phone on silent or airplane mode, turn off the volume on your computer, and close ancillary tabs so you don’t see messages and emails.
Move It: Exercise isn’t just important for our body, health, and mind.
This is a time when we get real insights into our work, make connections, and get even more creative because, while our body is at work, our mind is at rest.
Many people report having true ah-ha moments during exercise, and at a minimum, returning to their work refreshed and rejuvenated.
In addition, we all my have feelings about having our mobility limited that include elements of depression, anxiety, loss, and frustration. Movement helps smooth out these moods and release these energies.
If you can, go outside for a run, bike ride, walk, or hike. If you’re not able to get outside, take advantage of the online exercise classes that are being offered by some of the best studios.
Pro-tip: Block your exercise on your calendar to hold yourself accountable.
Celebrate Success: As you close out your day, take a moment to recognize yourself for your good work, dedication, focus, and prioritization. Take stock of what you accomplished and look closely at the items you crossed off your to-do list, not just the items remaining.
Celebrate your accomplishments. Take stock of any items unfinished and determine how you might better organize your time or calendar to attend to these items in the future.
Before you sign off for the day, rewrite your to-do list for the following day, including your top 3-5 priority items, and visualize what it will be like when you complete another successful day that feels productive and aligned.
Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal is Nike’s Former Head of Executive Leadership Development. She has spent over a decade learning about behaviors that make people resilient and helps executives, businesspeople, and others access the power of Resilience & Resilient living to reach their full potential.
2. Working from Home: It’s Okay to Say “No”
Patricia Diesel, Founder, Keep It Simple Now, LLC
- Sound the alarms. Get up at the same time you would usually for work. Studies show that if you keep the same mind-set for your routines that productivity will prevail.
- Keep the same morning routine. Shower and dress as if you’re going to work. The temptation to stay in your PJ’s will only seduce you into negative behaviors and keep you in a home mind-set.
- Stay true to your eating habits. Of course, if there is room for improvement, by all means, do so. But eat your breakfast as usual, break for lunch at normal times, take your snack breaks like you did at work.
Write your To-Do List every night to brain dump your mind.
This is a known practice to clear out the mental cob-webs and prepare you for the next day. During the course of the day (or at the end of the day for sure) cross off the items that you completed.
The brain loves a sense of accomplishment.
To prioritize your to-do list, simply categorize the items together after brain dumping and then choose 3 Must Do’s for the day that are non-negotiable to complete.
- During the day, choose a time for 30 minutes or less to try and do something domestic around the home that will keep you on top of your chores. Scheduling in time to do this is a sure way to overcome clutter from building.
It’s okay to say NO.
Boundaries are more important now than ever when working from home. Be honest with yourself and others and communicate what is realistic or not – including time lines.
- Set up your environment. Listen, having a workspace that makes you feel like you are ready to get your work done motivates you. Carve out an area that you can make your own and surround yourself with the tools of efficiency.
Patricia Diesel is a leading organizing expert, lifestyle coach and author. Her life transforming lessons help restore tranquility and a sense of order to people’s lives. She has been featured on Good Morning America, Lifetime TV, Women’s Day, Healthology, and TLC
3. What is Time Management? Take Immediate Action
Dr. Drew Stevens, PhD, CEO, Stevens Consulting Group/Stevens Capital
Three issues create road blocks each day:
- People – they call us, email us, text us and constantly throw us off our schedule.
How many times do you answer the phone with the classic line – “This will only take a sec!”
- Problems – People bring us the problems. There you are sitting in your office watching the people walk by like pigeons cooing. Then one drops in and …
- Processes – Needless to say the life of a productive workforce is riddled with constant changes in processes. And if you work in healthcare this is frequently a daily occurrence!
Three ideologies to gain organizational momentum:
- You must have a healthy selfishness – It is not only important when to say no it is important to learn to delegate, you cannot handle everything.
- You cannot deposit time, it never returns – How many times do you say I will get to it tomorrow, next week, next month. Then you miss an opportunity.
Time does not freeze because you cannot get to things.
- You must take immediate action – the only person holding you back is you.
Accountability creates action.
I have a client named Patricia that has four boys and she is constantly on the run and she has her own business. Her days begin at 7 and do not end until 9.
She is constantly engulfed in paperwork so much so that when we meet she cries just from the stress.
We worked on three things 1) blocks of time 2) prioritization and 3) tools to help her.
Within just four weeks of us meeting the crying and the stress ended. She learned to work on only the important things, stop fumbling with things less important and most important procrastination. It is the biggest time waster.
Sometimes it is not necessarily what you are doing it is how.
We are all living in a crazy busy world and we get so caught up with all the stressors that we forget to stop and smell the roses.
Dr. Drew Stevens is a powerful business speaker and CEO of the highly successful Stevens Consulting Group a strategic operations and business turnaround partner to small business with specific emphasis in sales and marketing. His advice on time management and organization skills have been written about for over 30 years.
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” – Lewis Carroll
4. Manage Your Time: Use a Digital Task List
Dr. Frank Buck, PhD, President, Frank Buck Consulting, Inc.
Use a digital task list.
Use due dates to decide what you’ll do today, tomorrow, etc. Use the “priority” field to segment your day into what you want to do in the morning, afternoon, and evening.
When it’s all in one place, the task of deciding what to do when becomes easier.
An added benefit is you never need to rewrite the list. Whatever doesn’t get done today stays on the list for tomorrow.
A good digital task manager allows you to enter a repeating task once and have it show up each time it needs to be done. It eliminates “rethinking.”
You can also add tasks with your voice on the fly. When a distraction appears, throw it on the list. Now, you can return to the task at hand with 100% focus.
When you get everything in one place, you start to see what you can delegate to others.
You also gain a sense of where you simply have to say “no.”
End each day by planning for the next. Adjust dues dates and priorities so that you have a list you can’t wait to attack tomorrow morning.
Your personal productivity goes up. Your stress goes down.
Dr. Frank Buck speaks throughout the United States and internationally about organization, time management, and personal productivity. “Global Gurus Top 30” named him #1 in the Time Management category for 2019 & 2020.
5. Time Management: Prioritize Priorities by Making a Daily List
John Rampton, Founder & CEO, Calendar
First, I’d like to point out just how difficult time management can be.
We all have a list of priorities we need to accomplish daily. We should never feel guilty or down on ourselves because we didn’t get to a few tasks.
Things come up, emergencies happen, and we get in a time bind.
As a business leader, I like to teach my team to prioritize their priorities and leave work at work. Tasks can be moved to the next day.
Prioritizing priorities for me means to make a list of the things you need to accomplish on a given day.
Next, from that list, batch the tasks that are of highest importance. Those are now your new priorities. The rest can be accomplished when you complete the priorities, and if they do not get completed that day, they can easily be moved to the next day.
You want to make sure you’re accomplishing your daily tasks well and not neglecting the important things.
The smaller and less important tasks can always be accomplished after that.
Next, stop working when your shift ends. Don’t drag it into your evening. Whatever you have left can wait until tomorrow.
You want to take the rest of the evening to relax with your family and friends. This will give you a chance to recharge until tomorrow and will give you time with those that matter most: loved ones.
Managing your time well is really about self-management, after all.
It takes will power to tell yourself you’ll complete that task the next day. In reality, most of us always have a task or two to complete by the time we should be finished with work.
Prioritizing our tasks and prioritizing our family is really the only way we can avoid staying late.
John Rampton is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Calendar. He recently was recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as being one of the top marketers in the world.
6. Time Management: Create Awareness Through Evaluation
Elene Cafasso, MCC, CEO & Head Coach, Enerpace, Inc.
Time Blocking: I help my clients put the big rocks into their schedule FIRST and then fit everything else around them. [Referring to Stephen Covey’s parable of putting the “big rocks” in the jar first.]
So, the big rocks would be time to actually move forward on the top 5 priorities. To conduct one-on-ones with your staff. To develop your people. Stakeholder important initiatives. That type of thing.
Book time for your work into your schedule and honor it. Make sure it’s honored by others. What typically happens though is that someone wants your time during a time block you’ve reserved for your work. Maybe it’s important enough that you agree and accept the meeting.
Your “big rock” has now fallen off your calendar.
You need to make up the time outside of work hours OR it may never get done at all until there’s a deadline or something creates a fire drill that makes this urgent.
Time blocking only works if it’s a zero-sum game. In other words, big rocks are not allowed to fall off.
EVERYTHING can move. You can pick up a task and move it anywhere else on your calendar, but it can’t disappear. If you’ve no place else to put it, then you have to say no to moving it.
Delegate: I wish I’d known sooner that I could, and SHOULD, delegate the things I wasn’t good at and that it would actually save me money and time in the long run!
Accountability Partner: I’m sure you have a friend/coworker who is facing a similar challenge. Perhaps you can be accountability partners and check in weekly? Of course, a coach can help.
Or set up an appointment with yourself every Sunday night where you add up the past week and see how you did. What are the key learnings you can use to better stick to your plan during the upcoming week.
The bottom line is that we need awareness before we can make a conscious choice.
We need to put structures and safety nets in place to remind us, bring us to awareness and then make that choice. So much of our life is on autopilot.
That 2 second pause can really make a difference because it gives you time to choose.
If you see week after week that you are making choices NOT to honor your big rocks, then it’s time to look at what your big rocks really are.
Elene Cafasso is a professionally trained executive coach and helps leaders in fast growing companies catch up and keep up to create continued success. She holds an MBA from Chicago Booth and has earned the Master Certified Coach designation from the International Coach Federation.
“Next week there can’t be any crisis. My schedule is already full.” – Henry Kissinger
7. Time Management Skills: Multi-Tasking Does Not Work
Michelle Guinn, Founder, Ever Inspire, LLC
When it comes to time management, there are success habits that should be built into your daily routine in order to face the challenges with staying on task in the workplace.
- First, do not multi-task.
Much research has proven that multi-tasking does not work.
Did you know that it can take up to 5 minutes for your brain to properly refocus on a given thought process or task? So, when you continually jump from task to task you cannot truly focus your proper attention on the work to be done.
- You must time block your most important tasks for the day. Make a list of what needs to be done (preferably at the end of the previous work day), then set up your calendar in time blocks based on the amount of time it should take you to complete the task.
This may be difficult given interruptions and meetings, but when you block your calendar, you can actively avoid interruptions and distractions from pulling you off task.
This includes email time. Be proactive with your email by allotting times throughout the day when you will check and respond.
Do not stay in reactive mode by allowing email to run your day.
- Do your most difficult tasks first. Block the first hour of your day to complete your most difficult tasks or those tasks that take you out of your comfort zone.
The morning is when you will have the most energy, so use it to your advantage and stop putting off those difficult or important things by allowing the quick, menial tasks to get in the way.
Set a deadline for important tasks. Many of us work best under pressure, so when you set a deadline, a given day and time when you will complete a project, you are more likely to complete it within a timely manner.
- Take regular breaks.
The body runs on 90-minute energy cycles, so when you work longer than 90 minutes on a given task, your energy will drain and you will lose focus.
It’s not only good for you physically to get up and take a short walk or to bend and stretch, but you also need that mental break to allow your brain to recharge and get ready for the next cycle.
Michelle Guinn is a Daily Habits Specialist, Speaker, Amazon International Best Selling Author, and Success Coach who has found her passion helping others become even more successful through her better habits coaching programs.
8. Time Management Tips: Don’t Neglect the 15 – 30 Minute Slots
Aviv Ben-Yosef, Tech Executive Consultant, Primavera Consulting
Here are a bunch of tips I regularly provide to my tech exec clients/coachees:
- Time block: don’t go over email/news/social media every five minutes, but on given times. Block time to do the most important things first.
- Don’t automatically accept meeting invites: make sure you are relevant, that it needs to be a meeting and cannot be an email, and that you get an agenda.
Just because the calendar defaults to one-hour blocks doesn’t mean that’s the ideal time for meetings. It’s ok to have things only take 30 or even 15 minutes.
- Group certain meetings to be close to one another, to free up time to focus instead of only having small slots between meetings to do some work or thinking.
Put your phone facing down or in a drawer.
- If you find yourself constantly distracted while working on your computer, try using a notebook, or a utility that blocks time-wasting apps.
Aviv Ben-Yosef is a global consultant, advisor, and coach to tech executives, helping them create needle-moving engineering organizations.
9. Time is About Energy Management
Regina Huber, CEO & Founder, Transform Your Performance
We have to change the way we look at what we call “time management.” Time cannot be managed. Time just is.
We can only manage our energy, our creativity and other resources we put to work within a certain time. That’s why I don’t even use the term “time management.”
The question I ask myself is: How can I best apply my energy and resources to this day, this morning, this hour?
To me, this includes starting the day with a morning routine that sets me up for the day, like a meditation. What some consider a “waste of time” (because it’s not about doing, doing, doing), to me is a way to prepare to have a more productive and creative day.
Every night, I look at my calendar and I focus on the three most important things I want to get done the next day.
Of course, on most days, I have more than 3 important things on my calendar. Some are meetings and calls, meaning they are already scheduled. All they need is an intention; for example, I set an intention to provide maximum value to my private coaching clients; or an intention to do put my best foot forward to sign on a new client if it’s a mutual fit.
In each interaction I have, I focus on the win/win. This means, none of these interactions is ever a waste of time.
For the time slots that are not “scheduled,” I define how to best use them to advance my business.
This is about the three things. These three things become a priority in my daily planning, and prior commitments allowing, I get them done in the morning. On some days, when my schedule is very busy with meetings, the “three things” become “one thing,” and that’s ok.
Success is progress. What’s important is to be consistent with this practice, but also be self-compassionate when there’s a day when it’s not exactly working out with this, rather than beating ourselves up.
Beating yourself up takes your energy away… and remember, it’s not about time management, but about energy management.
As a business owner, it’s often challenging to not work too many hours, especially when we work from home. Again, routines can help.
I have a rule that I attend high-energy and high-challenge dance or yoga classes 4 times a week (when I’m not traveling). That pulls me away from my desk, keeps me physically and mentally fit, and most importantly, releases some oxytocin into my system for increased happiness.
And in the summer, I also take long walks in the park whenever I don’t have other evening plans.
When I stay home after working in my home office, I shut the laptop down, move to a different location in the apartment and make the transition to “leisure time” in this way, although I do sometimes enjoy continue brainstorming on creative ideas even after.
There are places in my apartment where I never work. Going there helps shift my attention.
Regina Huber is a Multicultural Transformational Leadership Coach and Consultant for Inclusive Diversity; Author of the book “Speak up, Stand out and Shine” and the white paper “Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Thrive with Maximum Leadership Support”.
“Every minute spent in planning will save two in execution.” – Henry Kaiser
10. Manage Your Time, Actions & Emotions
Laurie Endicott Thomas, Editor & Author, Not Trivial
Nobody can manage time. Time flows on at exactly the same pace, regardless of what we do.
What we really need to manage are actions (tasks). To manage our actions, we need to manage our emotions, including the feelings of guilt and shame.
- Guilt is the feeling that you get when you did not meet your own expectations. It’s a private emotion. To avoid guilt, you must adjust either your performance or your expectations for yourself. To deal with guilt, you need to learn to feel compassion for yourself.
- In contrast, shame is the feeling that goes along with being put down by someone else. Shame is something that you experience in public. The best way to deal with undeserved shame is to get away from people who are bullying you.
- Self-esteem is the result of the praise or criticism we get from the virtual audience in our own imagination. Narcissists give themselves too much praise, and lots of nice people give themselves undeserved criticism.
When people think that they have problems with time management, they really have problems with feelings.
They need to think about what is important and what is urgent. Important things are things that affect your survival, well-being, and success. Urgent things are things that must be done immediately.
So, when people talk about time management, they really mean managing their activity, to make sure that the important tasks get done and that the urgent important tasks get done on time.
This also means choosing not to do unimportant things—or letting other people do them.
So, when you are overwhelmed with tasks, just stop doing the unimportant ones—at least until the important and especially the urgent ones are done.
Sometimes, this means learning to say “no” to people. If you are overwhelmed with tasks at work, you may be able to ask your supervisor what tasks are important and urgent.
You can use task-management software to keep track of your tasks. Using this software provides another advantage: it helps you keep a record of what you have to do and what you get done at work.
To manage our tasks, we need to understand something important about energy conservation. The brains of all animals have been shaped by evolution to do three things: seek pleasure, avoid pain, and conserve energy.
To feel like doing something, we must expect that the results of our action must be worth the discomfort and effort that it takes to do them. This explains why depressed people have such difficulty in getting things done: they feel less pleasure and more pain, and their brain is telling them to conserve energy.
On the other hand, if we want to get more done, we need to find ways to make our tasks easier and more comfortable. It also helps to be alert for the pleasure that you feel in accomplishing the things you have to do.
Laurie Endicott Thomas has worked as an editor in medical publishing for 30 years. She is the author of five books including “Don’t Feed the Narcissists! The Mythology and Science of Mental Health” about basic human emotions.
11. Time Management: Eliminate, Automate & Delegate
Tim Toterhi, Career Coach, Plotline Leadership
I advise my career coaching clients to use the Yoda-Methodology of time management. Simply create a list of all your tasks and then pour them into an imaginary funnel that has 3 decision points:
- Can you Eliminate the task? i.e. if you stopped doing it would anyone notice or care?
- Can you Automate the task? i.e. use technology to do a portion or all of the work?
- Can you Delegate the task? i.e. have someone else do it or better yet, trade tasks for something you are passionate about.
Whatever comes out the other end of the funnel (usually much less than you started with) requires a “Yoda moment“. You either Do or Do Not.
But here’s the thing, if you choose to procrastinate it becomes an active choice which removes the guilt you feel when you simply ignore the issue.
This also has the added benefit of highlighting what is most important e.g. going to your kid’s game and prompts you to make time for that as well – great motivation for tossing less important things.
Tim Toterhi is a TEDx speaker, author of “The HR Guide to Getting and Crushing Your Dream Job”, and a CHRO with 20 years of management experience in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. He is a career coach at Plotline Leadership.
12. Time Management Tips: Put Away Your Phone
Risa Williams, Psychotherapist (LMFT) & Life Coach, Risa Williams Therapy and Life Coaching
When I work with clients, I have them write down three goals for the day on a post-it and put the post-it somewhere they will pass by every day.
The goals should be easy for you to do and feel good about accomplishing, think of them as micro-goals toward bigger ones.
I have them include a personal goal, a work goal, and a creative goal. Every time they pass by the post-it, they are subconsciously prepping their mind to create the goal.
Then, we divide their schedule into “time blocks” where they are only tackling one task at a time for a stretch of a few hours, and each block is centered around working toward a goal.
During this time, it’s good to put away all other distractions so that your mind can only focus on one thing at a time.
Often clients find that when they put away their phones to focus on tasks, they improve their overall productivity as phones can be distracting.
I encourage clients to use different colors on their calendar for different blocks of time, so that they can mentally see the division of tasks and down time better.
Also important is to schedule many “mental down time” mini-breaks in between your other blocks where you are letting your mind reset and recharge because during this time you will gain more clarity on problems and more inspiration.
Risa Williams is a licensed psychotherapist and time management coach in Los Angeles. She helps clients navigate working from home, setting goals, and organizing their time more efficiently.
“The problem with making mental notes is that the ink fades very rapidly.” – Rolf Smith
13. A To-Do List Will Never Go Out of Style
Chad Hill, CMO, Hill & Ponton Law: Veterans Disability Lawyers
- Wake up early, even though we work at our own pace, we still have things to be done at a specific deadline. Waking up early or preparing yourself early to work means you are ready to be productive. It’s also an indication that you are responsible in using your time. Start early, you’ll finish your task early.
A To-do list never goes out style, it could help you sort out every important task that should be done within the day (depends on you if you set an internal deadline).
- One at a time, you might get overwhelmed once you have sorted out all the many tasks that you have listed. Some expert says that multi-tasking cannot make you productive, what’s important are the tasks that should be done.
Chad Hill is a website analytics and search marketing professional specializing in customer acquisition and lead generation. Co-founder of HubShout, the Internet marketing service that improves your placement in major search engines.
14. Manage Your Time: Check Email Only 3x Times a Day
Jason Hunt, Speaker, Trainer & Optimist, Founder, Eye Squared Leadership
Here are a few insights on how I help leaders find more time.
- Make time rare. Change your default calendar appointment time to 15-minute increments. When you schedule a meeting, feel free to end on the 45 or start on the 15. When someone wants to talk to you, tell them “Sure, I can’t talk now, but I’ve got 15 minutes at 10:30.” Set a time if necessary, but stay on time.
- Get rid of your to-do lists. Make your traditional to-do list, then move everything from the list onto your calendar. This does three things.
First, it forces you to think about how much time the task will take.
Parkinson’s Law says that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.“
Meaning, if you give something 60 minutes to complete, more than likely you’ll unconsciously complete it in 60 minutes. If you don’t identify time-on-task to your items on your to-do lists, you’ll end up taking much longer than needed.
Second, it forces you to prioritize. Obviously, the stuff that has to get done, you’ll put in your calendar first and the stuff that can wait will be placed later.
Third, it reduces stress. Having everything in your calendar means that you’ve figured out how to get everything done.
Now, you probably won’t nor will you ever get everything done, but when you go home at night and you’ve calendared everything on your to-do lists, you can relax more easily and rest better.
- Check your email only three times per day. A friend of mine shared this great tool with me. He called it the 3, 2, 1, 0 rule. 3 times a day, spend 21 minutes on your email with the goal of getting your inbox down to 0 emails.
Respond quickly to those that need a quick response, calendar the items that need to be done, and delegate, file or delete the other emails.
It is amazing how much time we waste everyday simply on going through our emails.
Jason Hunt helps leaders in manufacturing restructure their time allocations in order to spend more time nurturing, equipping, and developing future leaders. He is certified by the John Maxwell Team and is a professional member of the National Speakers Association.
15. View Time as a Commodity & Investment
Jody Almond, Motivational Speaker, Business Coach & CEO, Soulution Ministries
American cartoonist Bill Keane, the creator of the famous comic, Family Circus, said, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why it is called the present.”
Most of us are busy, busy, busy with work, social life, events, family, etc. and can never seem to find the time to get everything accomplished on our to-do lists.
I understand this all too well having struggled myself with time management for many years; however, I have found that by taking the proper perspective, you can learn to manage your time and make the most of your minutes.
Surveys have shown that the average user spends two hours and thirty-three minutes per day on social media.
A recent study of social media usage determined that based on the projected use of social media, the average person starting at age ten and living until they’re seventy-two years old will spend a total of six years and eight months on social media throughout their lifetime.
Another recent study shows that the average individual spends between 3 ½ to 4 ½ hours per day watching television. If a person lives to be seventy-two years old that would result in a total of twelve years of a person’s life spent watching television.
Everyone needs sleep and if you follow the recommended sleep of eight to nine hours each night, it will result in sleeping a total of twenty-six years during the span of your life.
In reality, if these three common areas reflect our lives, you have just accounted for approximately forty-four to forty-five years of our life. This excludes school, work, social activities, and much more that you will partake in throughout your life. Now you can begin to understand the importance of time management.
The reality of life for every person right now is that we have a limited amount of time.
The big secret for those who have learned to manage and make the most of their minutes is that they view time as a commodity.
When time is viewed as a commodity and compared to money, it creates an attitude of making the most of what you have. Consider this as it relates to time and money, just like currency time can be spent, squandered, abused, stolen, appreciated or depreciated, and even devalued.
When you consider time management you should think less of how you are spending your time and more of how you’re investing your time.
When you spend, it has the idea of using time or exhausting time on something without expecting anything in return. Investing time into something is when you expend your resources, but you do so with and expectation of getting a good return on your investment.
In business, this is related to as an “ROI” or “Return on Investment.” Those who successfully manage their time know this secret and strategically use every second of every day to the best of their ability.
When you manage time as a commodity, you’re ensuring that you get a return in the future on the investment you make today. By implementing this strategy, it has proven successful for countless people around the world.
The saying is true, “Time is money,” and when you allow yourself to see time as a commodity; you will pay closer attention to how you use it.
Become more intentional about managing your time, as it will come and go, but it is up to you how you use it.
Here are some ways to begin managing your time more practically and intentionally.
- Prepare: Plan for the day, week, month, and even the year. The truly successful people in this world make this a common practice. Just like any responsible person budgets their money, budget your time by planning where and how you will invest the time you have.
Being prepared brings me to point #2 that will help you be more intentional with investing your time.
- Prioritize: Make a list of the things that you need to accomplish versus the things that can wait. I call these two categories, “now and later.”
“Now” being the things that can’t wait and “later” of course being the things that don’t have to be handled right away. For example, I may need to make some phone calls this week, but I really need to start recording my audiobook today.
You also want to have a section where you list the things in order of importance to you by numbering them from the most important being #1 to least important being #5.
Now that you have your priorities list complete begin cross-examining between the” now and later” category along with the importance category. For example, someone may list spending quality time with their family each day is #1, but also have down that they have to complete a task for work by the end of the day.
If you plan ahead, as mentioned above, you will be better equipped by becoming intentional in accomplishing both of your goals for the day ahead. You can take time to invest in your career by accomplishing the task for your company and also make quality time in the day for your family.
- Prevention: Distractions will always be around, so you have to purposefully prevent distractions from your productivity and purpose that you have designated and invest your time. No matter how hard you try, there will always be some sort of distraction but by preventing the possible distractions that you can head off before they arrive; you are setting yourself up for success.
- Process: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you will not have this system down pat in one either. It takes time and is a process. Allow yourself some room for error, but learn from your mistakes. Practice makes perfect, so continue moving forward and making progress in the process of investing your time. Like anything, the longer you participate in the process of being intentional with your time the more efficient you will become at managing your time.
- Pleasure: Remember, life is meant to be enjoyed, so balance work and fun. Work is important but the truly successful in life will tell you that success means nothing if you don’t enjoy the life you’re living.
You get one shot at this thing called life and it’s over, make the most of it by managing your time wisely and enjoying the life you’ve been given to the fullest.
Don’t come to the end of your life wishing you would’ve, and you could’ve, and should’ve, but instead saying I did!
Enjoy every day and live with less stress and more success by investing the commodity of time intentionally.
Being the CEO of Soulution Ministries, and having a #1Amazon best-selling book “Going All In-Finding Success Through Surrender”, motivational speaker, as well as being a Life and Business Coach and Strategist life can get very busy for Jody Almond. He had to learn to make the most of his minutes and helps many others to do the same in their personal and professional lives.
“Warning: Dates on calendar are closer than they appear.” – Anonymous
16. Get Ready for Your Week by Pre-Planning
Lisamarie Monaco, National Independent Life Insurance Agent, PinnacleQuote Life Insurance Specialists
The best tips I have on time management are making use of your Sundays.
Get ready for your work week by pre-planning. Prepare meals for Monday-Wednesday. This frees up time you will need to work your business hours.
Make those to-do lists! They do indeed work. Daily goals are essential. I personally use a digital one, but pen and paper work great too!
Distractions are a killer of focus and goals. Be clear with friends, family, kids, etc… Create work hours that if you are not bleeding or a limb falling off, you are not to be interrupted.
Delegating is key, know when to say no and give a task to someone else, whether it is spouse, loved one or an employee or colleague. If you are already juggling, why add to it?
Simple things for freeing up more time especially during your morning routines, prepare your outfit the night before.
It seems simple to just pick out an outfit the morning of, but by doing this the night before that 5-10-minute struggle created room to do other things.
Lisamarie Monaco is a mom of 5 kids, an entrepreneur, and she loves to help people. Her mantra is “Everything I do, I do with Passion.”
17. Create Your Priority List the Night Before
Kristen Diaz, Owner, Vow + Vast, LLC
The best piece of advice when it comes to creating better productivity habits is to create a priority list the night before.
This list should be organized by what needs to be done first according to deadline and length/difficulty of project.
Get creative with it and even color code it! Whatever it takes to make sure you’re knocking out the important items first each day.
After transitioning out of an office environment to working full time from home for myself, it was hard to get organized at first without an update meeting.
By organizing a priority list the night before, I am able to focus clearly on the priority list each day using time blocking methods and creating pockets of time to answer emails, as well as handle client emergencies.
That way you’re giving time to what is important while also making sure you’re answering incoming communications without the inbox or instant messenger stress.
Kristen is the owner of Vow Vast, a virtual assistance and productivity coaching company that aims to help creative small businesses create a healthier work-life balance. Through task and time management, small businesses can build better habits while growing without burnout.
18. Time Management: Tasks Which Provide the Biggest Results
Alex Williams, Website Builder & Owner, Hosting Data UK
As a small online business, with a relatively small team, time management is really important to us to ensure we deliver our services to a high standard and on time for our users.
The best advice I could offer would be to focus on results. It’s all about quality and not quantity, so when putting together a to do list try to prioritise based on which tasks will provide the biggest result.
Another really great tip is to practice the four D’s when it comes to managing your emails. As soon as you open an email, you must decide whether to Delete, Do, Delegate or Defer.
- Delete anything that does not require your personal input, this could be up to half of the emails you receive.
- Do, act on the email if it is urgent or can be completed relatively quickly.
- Delegate, once you’ve read the email, if you think it could be better dealt with by someone else then forward it on and get it out of your inbox.
- Defer, flag the email and deal with it when you have more time to focus on handling it correctly.
This will hugely reduce the inbox anxiety that can often creep up on you during periods of high demand and massively help with your time management.
Alex Williams is a Web Hosting Professional and is described as the world’s best pun creator and a person paid to code.
“Remember that the biggest gap in the world is between ‘I should’ and ‘I did.” – H. Jackson Brown