Like all other skills, time management skills are can be developed and refined. Here you will find a few ideas to do that.
Main reason we all want to manage time is to be more productive (get more done in a shorter amount of time), avoid stress, and have time to do additional things. As we try to be more productive, one thing we want to make sure is that we set aside time for ourselves. This is necessary, not “good to have”, to avoid burn-out. So before you make other arrangements, make sure you set aside time for yourself every day. Do anything that will help you relax – some people like to meditate, some like to read, and some others like to just watch TV. Or just don’t do anything - It really doesn’t matter and no need to feel guilty. This is an important time management skill.
A good habit to develop is to observe your days for several days and identify opportunities to be more efficient, eliminate waste and to group tasks that are related. Also identify if you have appropriately prioritized your activities, and whether you are working on one tasks long enough to make progress (or whether you are jumping from one task to another and multitasking, which can be counter-productive). As you try to improve your time management skills and get more things done, watch out for multi-tasking.
Try to develop a habit of using time instead of wasting. Make use of the few minutes while waiting for a meeting or appointment. Use this time to write a thank you note, read a couple of pages of a book or jot down a few lines in your diary/journal.
Try to allocate rough time slots for important activities. This helps us conquer the tendency to procrastinate. If something urgent comes up, reschedule the original task. Try keeping a calendar to keep track of your appointments and upcoming tasks. Keep reminders for bills, mortgage etc. so you won’t end up paying penalty. Better yet, sign up for auto payments if you can. That is one less thing to worry about every month.
Keep things organized. Nothing wastes more time than looking for stuff. Read articles under organization for ideas. Time management skills and organization are related.
As always, proof is in the pudding. So keep track of changes you make and see how it is working. If something is working well, keep doing it or expand the concept. Ditch the changes that did not work.
Be mindful of other people’s time. If you cannot make an appointment or meeting, reschedule as soon as you know it. Give others enough notice so they can utilize that time for something else.
Remember - Don’t be hard on yourself. Even small improvements are something to be proud of. This is a journey, not a destination.
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