If you have ever thought that there aren’t enough hours in the day or wondering why you aren’t achieving your long-term goals, you might benefit from learning a few tricks that focus on making better use of your time. Here are eight tips for Using Effective Time Management Skills that will help you get the most out of your day.
1. Address reasons for procrastination
For some people, over-scheduling is the reason why certain tasks always go unfinished. However, procrastination also plays a key role in many cases. If you know that you self-sabotage by vegetating in front of the TV when you promised yourself you’d start working on a major project, take a critical look at why you might be avoiding the goals you claim to value. For example, you may be scared to fail, or you may have set goals that really serve someone else’s interests. Understanding why you procrastinate can help you address underlying anxieties and remove blocks to effective use of your time.
2. Make lists
There is a range of benefits associated with having a ‘to do’ list for the day or the week. Firstly, if you put the list in an obvious place then it serves as a useful reminder of things that might otherwise slip your mind. Secondly, a list of household chores and tasks ensures you’ll always have something useful to do when you have free time. Lists can also help you to break down complex tasks (like redecorating or planning a trip) into smaller, more digestible goals that are easier to accomplish in stages. As a bonus, the brain finds information easier to process in the list form.
3. Identify your most productive time of day
While being a morning person is more socially acceptable and perhaps better for your body, you may have found that no amount of early rises leave you feeling energized or productive in the morning. Think about when you have the most drive and focus, and use that time window to do the things that require the most focus or determination, leaving more menial tasks for other times of the day.
For example, if you peak in the early evening, use that time to complete a nuanced analysis of your finances, and use your sleepy mid-afternoon hours for doing laundry. This approach to organizing your time helps you get the best results more quickly.
4. Find ways to eliminate distractions
When you work or study at home some of the time, eliminating distractions is vital. If you’re guilty of opening Facebook and skimming through your newsfeed every few minutes, consider just disconnecting from the internet for the duration of a full work session. Meanwhile, if your phone is the main distraction, resolutely placing it in a different room can help. When it comes to distractions from other people, tactfully but firmly explain that you need to concentrate for a while but will be available to talk later.
5. Spend relaxation time wisely
Part of using your time effectively involves knowing when and how to relax, pursuing hobbies and interests that help you feel rested, rejuvenated and enthusiastic. Try to cut out pointless activities that you don’t truly enjoy (such as watching shows that don’t really engage you or spending time with people who don’t make you feel valued), and focus on the things you love. For some people, mental health is vastly improved by spending quality time with a pet, while others need to go for a swim, take a hot bath or treat themselves to a massage.
6. Complete one task before moving on to another
Research on concentration and focus suggests that people find it harder to devote their full attention to a new item on their ‘to do’ list if they have not yet completed a previous assignment or task. Commit to completing your current activity before moving on to another.
7. Use an online calendar or organizer
When it comes to organizing your time, online calendars are a fantastic asset. They can show you a broad overview of your day or week, identifying gaps of free time during which you can squeeze in an important task or arrange a social meeting. Most online calendars also send reminders to your phone or email, making sure you don’t waste time by forgetting a doctor’s appointment or haircut that later needs to be rescheduled.
8. Take care of your body
Finally, in all your efforts to make the best use of your time, don’t forget that it will be impossible to do so if your body is exhausted or poorly nourished. In particular, studies of work performance show that people who have less than six hours of sleep work more slowly and are more prone to errors. Meanwhile, sticking to a healthy diet and regularly pursuing a type of exercise you enjoy will also help you feel good enough to use your day more effectively.