You might have heard the old saying that “If you want something done, give it to a busy person” and laughed at how true that’s played out in your own experience. The truth is people who always have something going on and manage to keep all their balls in the air have mastered the skills of time management and can accomplish more in less time than those who have not acquired this valuable skill.
The good news is time management is a skill that can be taught. Here are seven tips to get you on your way to becoming an expert.
- Know your limitations. You probably already have a fairly good idea of how long it takes you to accomplish most tasks and how much time you have available. Don’t ignore these very real limitations in the hopes of pleasing others or trying to meet some goal. It’s better to be realistic from the start.
- No is the magic word. Most of us find it very difficult to turn down a request. We have a genuine desire to be helpful and to project and air of competence. Be kind to yourself and turn down things that just don’t fit into your current schedule. You’ll also be doing the one requesting a favor instead of leaving them in the lurch when it turns out you couldn’t do it after all.
- Make a daily “to do” list. Start your mornings by writing a list of things that need to be accomplished that day. If you find yourself unable to accomplish everything, add those items to the next day’s list. This will not only help you stay more organized but also help you get a better idea of what is realistic for you to do in one day.
- Keep a time journal for one week. This might seem like a lot of extra work but it can pay off in the long run. Having a truthful accounting of where you spend your time can help you decide where you need to cut back and find the places where you could stand to tighten up your routine.
- Group errands and other tasks. Designate a day or two each week to be your errand days. On those days make a list of everywhere you need to go and map out a logical, direct route. Look for ways to accomplish tasks without leaving your home or office such as by phone, online or having things delivered.
- Don’t waste time being stuck. If you’re having difficulty with a certain task, don’t waste hours struggling fruitlessly and instead switch gears and work on something else. Not only will you get more done but switching tasks can often help you re-approach the difficult task with a fresh perspective.
- Keep your work spaces organized. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by piles of clutter and unsorted mounds. Invest in filing systems and design processes that will help you keep your things in order and avoid wasting valuable time looking for things.
Better time management is a skill that you can learn. It takes patience and dedication but you’ll be rewarded by getting more done with less stress.
Nicole Spencer spends her time writing about potty training as a staff writer for Potty Training Power and everything under the sun as a ghostwriter with the Ghostwriter Dad team. You can follow Nicole on Twitter.