October 25, 2018
The 9 core principles to make your time management more effective
“You can’t make up for lost time. You can only do better in future.”- Ashley Ormon, Author
Are you struggling to find time out of the daily hustle and bustle of your life? Does your 9-5 work life takes up all your time, or are you pushing all your chores towards the weekend, and then to next week?
If ‘Yes’ is the answer to all the above questions, you probably need to manage your “TIME.”
Time management is a very important skill that most people would like to improve on. However, they constantly stumble on seeking the ways in which they can manage time. Although there are plenty of strategies for managing time, there are some that work for every situation.
Without further ado, here are the top and core principles of time management that will help you lead a productive and balanced life.
Principles of Time Management
Planning is always important, no matter what you do. Take a few minutes in the morning to plan your activities for the day. For a hectic schedule, minimize distractions as much as possible.
You can also use various personal planning tools to plan and organize your schedule. These tools include calendars, wall charts, notebooks, electronic planners, pocket diaries and index cards. List all your tasks and schedules so that you can focus on your priorities in your planning tool.
Consider the following important things when using a planning tool:
- Record all the information on your tool only.
- Review your planning tool every day.
- Always carry your planning tool with you.
- Make a list of your priorities on the tool and stick to it.
- If you are using an electronic planner, synchronize it with your computer and recharge the batteries of the planner regularly.
- Ensure that you get a backup system for your planning tool.
At the end of each workday, invest a few minutes to quickly make a list of things to be done the following day in your mind. It will mentally put the most important duties on your mind and less important ones out of your mind on the next day.
2. Organize and Prioritize
Imagine your boss has given you a presentation for the coming board meeting and you have just 3-4 days to prepare it. The workload is high and you already have a few important tasks to do. It will be an extremely stressful situation for anyone.
Thankfully, there is The Eisenhower’s Principle! In a speech, former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower said that he had two kinds of problems: important and urgent, and both are different. Based on this principle, there was an app developed named as Priority Matrix that lets you differentiate between Do Now and Critical tasks.
The most fundamental premise of effective time management is differentiating what is important and what is urgent. Note that the most important tasks are not the most urgent tasks and vice-versa.
The problem is most of us let urgent tasks dominate our lives. But, experts suggest that though both urgent and important tasks can be done together, one must first focus on important ones regardless of their urgency. Focusing on what you want to accomplish, will give you full control over your time.
The easiest way to prioritize your tasks is to make a to-do list on daily, weekly or monthly basis depending on your lifestyle. Rank the items in your list on the basis of priority as high, medium and low. Execute and mark off the highest priorities first.
If you are doing projects at work, you can also use project management tools like Trello or TimeOn. These tools have helpful features to help you organize and prioritize your work in regards of importance. For example, TimeOn has distinct features that help you visually keep track of how projects are progressing, which projects needs to be worked on and which projects you are fine leaving for now.
3. The 80/20 Rule
Also known as the Pareto’s Principle, the 80/20 rule, when applied to work, means that approx. 20 percent of your hard work produces 80 percent results. So, you should focus that 20 percent on making the most effective use of your time.
Identify your most important tasks and follow these five steps:
- Think about the outcome you expect.
- Break it down into actions required to get the job done.
- Do the action with complete dedication and in the most accurate order, you can.
- Identify and execute the next important action.
- Repeat until complete.
Apply the 80/20 rule on all tasks on your to-do list to boost your efficiency.
4. Do One Thing At A Time
We all try to do too much all at once and end up achieving almost nothing. The people who try to accomplish multiple goals at a time were less dedicated and had the fewer chances to succeed than those who keep themselves focused on a single goal at a time. Successful people concentrate on just one thing at a time, as far as possible.
When we try to be multitasking, tasks at hand takes more time and we become less productive. As we feel pressured, we start thinking about other unimportant things, such as what to buy for the party, arguments with colleagues, etc. It, eventually, turns into stress and keeps us from completing our tasks by time and efficiently.
As Rob Brandsma, psychologist and mindfulness coach, says, “When you speak, speak. When you listen, listen.” Be present at the moment so that you can fully concentrate on the task at hand. Practice doing one thing at a time and eventually it will become your normal routine.
5. Avoid Distractions
You sit at the desk with determination in mind to complete a task no matter what. As you turn on your laptop, you notice a friend’s message on Facebook or text on your phone and forget about that important task.
Well, distractions happen and it’s hard to avoid them. It’s really challenging to stay focused on a task for hours at a time. But, the practice can help you achieve the same!
First, identify internal or external distractions and pinpoint their cause. Tiredness? Lack of skills? Find the cause and fix it.
Common Tips to avoid distraction
- Put down your phone: Constant unscheduled phone calls and messages are common distractions. So, switch off your mobile phone and forward your work phone to voicemail. Make sure you check your calls every 2-3 hours – just like your inbox.
- Close Your Web Browser: Admit it that you’re into social media as they are serious distractions. Gather your willpower, log off your social media profiles and close the screen down.
- Wear Headphones: If you work sitting in a cubicle, wear noise-cancelling headsets to make the world a quiet and peaceful place.
- Take a Break: Take a short break if you feel getting distracted by something or feel tired after working for long hours at a time. Short breaks will help you get relaxed and make your mind clearer.
Delegation means identifying if some of your tasks can be handled by others and assigning those tasks to someone else. It will free up some of your time that you can give to other core activities. Select appropriate persons who can assist you by sharing your responsibilities in the best possible way. They should have appropriate skills, interest, experience and authority required to accomplish the task.
Be specific and clear while defining your tasks and expectations. Also, allow the person some freedom to personalize the assigned tasks. Make sure you occasionally check if the person is progressing and going in the right direction or needs your assistance. In work settings, we have found that project management software like TimeOn can be very helpful for managing teams and making sure everyone is performing well and are headed in the right direction. Finally, reward the person for a job well done or ask to make improvements if required.
Also, you can ask others to help you with other urgent tasks, giving you time to focus on important tasks. For example, pay someone to mow your lawn or clean your house; Join a carpool to transport your kids to their school to allow yourself the time that you can devote to other activities.
7. Keep Yourself Healthy and Stress-free
The care you give to your body will help you rejuvenate mentally and physically. Only people with a healthy mind and body can accomplish their tasks quickly, easily and efficiently. Practice managing your time according to your biological clock by scheduling priority tasks during the peak time of the day, when your energy levels are at their best.
If you are bad at time management, you will end up struggling with moodiness, fatigue, stress, and frequent illness. To avoid stress, recognize that you have accomplished a task and are ready to move on to the next one.
One thing we can definitely recommend is getting some exercise done during the week. Every time you have done a workout you will be feeling much healthier and full of new energy – ready to tackle all your tasks for the day.
8. Learn to say “NO”
Unless something truly important comes to you, practice saying ‘no’ to the tasks that you feel pressured with. Instead, save your energy and concentration for the activities that are important for you and you enjoy doing.
Being a “yes” man or woman can lead to you getting too much on your plate and becoming overwhelmed with work. This does no good for anyone. You will be stressed and your manager will most likely complain about not getting the work done on time or in adequate manner. Know that it is perfectly OK to say “no” to tasks you feel overwhelmed by.
9. Make Realistic Schedules
Plan your schedule before the week starts. Don’t strive for perfection as nobody in the world is perfect. Instead, focus your efforts on being excellent and don’t worry about things that you can’t control or handle.
Stay positive and when you feel stressed, take a 10-minute break to do things that you enjoy. Take care of your health, eat and drink healthy, exercise daily, sleep well and laugh as much as you can!
The time management principles to live by
Whether you have started to manage your time or are just trying to excel at the time management efforts, the above principles are sure to help you excel at your goal.
Start with proper planning. Then move on to organize and prioritize your tasks according to the situations. Here you can utilize the 80/20 rule to focus on what is most important. Along with this, make realistic schedules and learn to say “No” to the tasks, which are not important. Also, make sure you do one thing at a time, avoid the distractions, and keep yourself healthy and stress-free.
The final important point is to make sure you find the difference between commitment and interest.