Do you ever wish you could create more time in a day?
Many of us worry about not having enough time and have challenges with time management. While some people seem to always complete things with ease, many of us have to learn how to successfully manage our time.
When we are overwhelmed with poor time management, our stress levels rise, causing harmful effects on the body. Stress can also negatively impact our performance and ruin our chances of achieving our goals and long-term success.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can improve your time management skills and become an inspiring success story.
Here are the top 5 time management strategies to try out:
1. Keep Track of Your Time
We can’t change what we don’t know. It all starts with awareness.
A great way to start your journey into better time management is to keep track of your current habits and see how you are using your time.
Use a time log to keep notes on how you spend your time. There are also great apps and tools that can help you keep track of your time. One of my favorites is toggl track.
Try keeping track of your regular habits for 1 to 2 weeks. Use this data to answer some of the following questions:
- Did you finish all the tasks you needed to?
- When were you most productive? Morning? Afternoon?
- When were you least productive?
- Which tasks took the longest to complete?
- What type of tasks took up most of your day? Work? Personal?
Trends in your current time management can help you determine what you need to prioritize. It can also help you structure your day since you’ll know how long your regular tasks take to complete.
2. Using a Planning Tool to Set Priorities
One key part of time management is being able to prioritize. It is important to discern and decide which tasks are most urgent and most important. This can help you improve your focus and dedicate the right amount of time to each task.
Use the Eisenhower Matrix, or Urgent-Important Matrix to help you decide how you should prioritize tasks. When writing down tasks in a physical planner or planning app, you can sort them into four distinct quadrants based on level of urgency and importance.
Urgent tasks require your immediate attention. There can be clear consequences if not addressed promptly. Examples include a last minute project deadline, unexpected family emergency, a flood or leak in your apartment.
Important tasks may not require your immediate attention but are critical in your long-term success. Examples include planning for the next quarter/year, regular networking activities, routine self-care and practices. Realize that just because it’s not time-sensitive doesn’t mean it requires less resources or commitment from you.
Use these guidelines to place tasks into the appropriate quadrants below.
The 4 quadrants in the matrix include:
- Do First – tasks to complete right away, both urgent and important
- Schedule – important, but not urgent tasks that you can schedule
- Delegate – urgent, but less important tasks that you can delegate
- Don’t Do – not important or urgent, and therefore not worth your time
When setting up your schedule and priorities, it’s important to have realistic expectations for yourself.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the number of tasks on your plate, don’t be afraid to delegate. You are not meant to do this alone. Delegation is helpful to bring shared responsibility and develops the capacity of others as well.
A major key to success is to set goals that are realistic and reasonable. It’s better to accomplish your goals and keep your word to yourself than get overwhelmed and feel bad that you didn’t complete what you said you were going to do.
3. Stop Procrastinating
We have a finite amount of time in a day. Procrastination is the number one barrier to successful time management.
It usually happens when you are so overwhelmed or unexcited about a task that you feel a sense of dread so put it off as long as possible. But you end up wasting more time in the process.
To stop procrastinating, it’s crucial to start at the root cause and change your mindset.
Based on the “motivational triad”, our brains want to focus on things that 1) bring pleasure 2) avoid pain and 3) conserve our energy.
When we encounter a task that’s new or unfamiliar, we may think it will take a long time or be very challenging which can feel painful so the brain will want to avoid it.
This can lead us to procrastinate and set aside those important tasks for those that are easier or more familiar (e.g. scrolling social media or eating cookies even when you’re not hungry!)
Professional coaching can help you end procrastination. Coaching helps you examine and reframe your mindset so that those important tasks no longer seem unmotivating or exhausting. With guidance and support, you can turn these dreadful thoughts into inspiring thoughts of motivation.
4. Optimize Your Environment
Your work environment is one of the most important factors in setting yourself up for success. Every detail can make an impact, from how comfortable your chair is to any sounds or clutter that surround you.
When setting up your work environment, ask yourself “What kind of environment would be most supportive or motivating to me?”
For example, having a messy workspace can correlate with a messy mind. By keeping your space organized, your mind can be clear and have more space to tackle those difficult tasks.
It is also important to limit distractions. Can you put your phone away while you work or turn off the notifications so you don’t get distracted with every new text message? Consider checking your email at a few scheduled times during the day so you don’t feel the need to view and respond every new email as they come in.
Make sure you feel comfortable when you work. Invest in an ergonomic setup so that your desk and chair are supportive to your body. The last thing you want is to get chronic neck pain from the poor posture working at a desk that will prevent you from being at your best.
5. Prioritize Self-Care
Time management is not just so you can have more time to work. It’s about having a balance of work and play. As stress builds throughout the day, it’s helpful to make time for self-care so you can reduce your stress levels.
Self-care is about taking care of and nourishing all parts of your mind, body, and spirit so that you can live with ease.
Don’t wait until your gas tank is empty before you take time to rest and recharge.
Take breaks throughout the day. There are many ways to recharge whether it’s a quick breathing exercise, outdoor walk, connecting with a friend, stretching, meditation, or whatever feels good to you.
Don’t forget to give yourself permission to do it.
You can also schedule “rest time” and use time blocking in your schedule. Do something fun with family and friends or curl up with a good book. Whatever helps you re-energize your brain after a hard day’s work. Give your brain a chance to reset.
Remember, when you’re well-rested, you have more energy and resources to do better work. Don’t see rest times as “being lazy,” but as a chance to fuel up and improve instead. Taking time for yourself is the best way to ensure that you have more to give to others.
Discover Your Potential with Time Management Strategies
Not everyone is born with great time management skills. In fact, most of us aren’t. But with coaching support, it’s possible to change and get more time into your day! With better time management skills, you will reduce your stress, unlock your potential, and achieve your goals with ease.
Click to join mailing list and receive a free guide to “Create Your Own Calm” to start! With this guide, you’ll be taking the first step to living your best life.
I am also available via email. Contact me if you have any further questions, or just want to get in touch!
Dr. Cindy Tsai