How To Effectively Manage Your Time In a Warp-Speed, Multi-Tasking, Lightning-Fast World
Time management techniques are easy to find, but difficult to learn. Picking the most effective time management methods and implementing them in a disciplined manner can transform your success, at work and in personal life. This list of 10 proven tips and techniques can become a good starting point.
How we wish we were taught good time management techniques at school? Most of what we learn about managing time more effectively comes from hard knocks as we grow up and grow wiser. In a world that’s speeding along and getting faster by the minute, you must be able to organize the deluge of information that’s coming, and put it to use efficiently. If procrastination or lack of proper goals holds you back, you’ll pay a heavy price.
Knowing and using effective time management techniques can be the skill that differentiates you from everyone else at work. When you handle even large workloads with efficiency and style, your career will take off. But when you learn how to balance this skill with other elements that keep you in harmony with all facets of your life, you will become truly enlightened.
Here are 10 techniques that will help you manage time better.
1. Strive For An Empty Email Inbox
Email is both a boon and a curse. We all spend a lot of time dealing with email. Only few of us do it efficiently and well. Keeping your email inbox as close to empty as possible is a learned skill, one that’s critical to your time management expertise.
Touch email only once. Read it, decide upon it, and act. If it needs a reply, answer. If you need it for later reference, file it. If it needs further thinking over, move it to a folder. One touch – and only one – will save you hours every month in wasteful effort.
2. Focus On One Thing Only
We’ve all been fed the KoolAid of ‘multi-tasking’. But the reality is that juggling multiple tasks at once is wasteful and lowers your productivity. Stop doing it. Be aware of whatever you are doing, and concentrate fully on it – until the task is done.
Then, move on to the next item on your list and deal with it in the same way, until that too is done. Rinse and repeat. You’ll breeze through your list quicker than when you try and do many things at the same time.
3. Prioritize Your To Do List
Tempting as it may be, hurrying to finish the most urgent or pressing tasks is a losing strategy. You’ll spend the most productive part of your day fighting fires, only to discover, after much time has flown, that your most important things remain undone.
So, get the most important things done first. Prioritize your list of things to do, and start with the one that has the biggest impact on your overall goals. Try and focus an hour or two on this task at the beginning of your work day, and leave the less important stuff for later. This is among the most effective time management techniques you’ll adopt.
4. Avoid Distractions
Do you keep checking email every 15 minutes? Or firing up Twitter to catch up on tweets? Or drop by Facebook to share some gossip with friends? It’s costing you – dearly.
Although we live in a 24/7 culture online, there is absolutely no necessity to remain ‘hooked to the grid’ all day long. While others may expect an immediate response to their posts, tweets or emails, you are not obligated to cater to these whims. Be consistent in how soon you respond, but don’t strive for immediacy at the cost of postponing your important work.
The Ming Vase Time Management guide on “How To Focus” digs deeper into systems to improve concentration and focus so that you get things done more effectively.
5. Get Organized
Using ‘dashboards’ or quick reference lists can shave precious minutes off your daily routine. Having a set of frequently used Web links, passwords, and other data jotted down in an easy-to-reach place can work better than post-it notes scattered all around. Time saved on searching is time that can be devoted to being more productive.
6. Listen To Your Body
All of us have biological rhythms and unique work habits. You may be most productive early in the morning. Or you may discover you are most creative in the afternoon. Maybe you’re a ‘night owl’ who works best when the world is asleep.
No matter what your unique routine is, you will benefit from time management techniques that schedule major projects for your period of highest productivity.
7. Streamline and Simplify
Do you handle many repetitive tasks? On a computer, do you run similar routines several times a day? If you do, learning simple scripting to execute macros or hotkeys can save precious seconds each time – and this adds up to significant time savings over the course of months or years.
Simplifying a task that takes multiple steps, and cutting them down by even 10%, can have a similar effect over time.
8. Beat Procrastination
It’s hardest to begin work. Once you get going, the momentum will carry you along. So break down a bigger project into smaller pieces – and get started on one. As it gets done, you’ll gather steam and be more energized to begin working on the next.
9. Claim Your Freedom
Yes, being efficient is good. But getting stressed out about delays is bad. You have control. Take advantage of this power. Don’t obsess over delays or falling behind schedule. Don’t let someone else’s priorities interfere with your completion of important work.
Poor time managers respond to every external stimulus and distraction. Good ones know that they must call the shots if their dreams are to come true.
These time management techniques may sound simple and obvious. But they are powerful and effective. Try them out and watch as they transform your work and your life, bringing greater harmony and peace into it.
The techniques are rooted in the 3 Time Management Tao principles:
- Find your center – know WHAT to do
- Understand your order – know HOW to do it
- Pick your timing – know WHO to use & WHEN
You’ll learn more about them in other sections of the site (check them out now), and can receive updates about time management techniques by email when you sign up to our free “Time Taozine” by submitting the form below.
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