One in eight people never feel as though they’re on top of their workload, which is testament to how unmanageable time can be. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re drowning in a never-ending sea of to-dos, and it’s easy to feel like giving up.
However, there are ways to conquer time management and make your days more productive — like using to-do lists and prioritizing your tasks, setting deadlines and organizing your time in a way that works for you.
In this article, we’ll explore how to do just that. We will cover:
- What it means to manage your time
- Where to begin with time management
- Prioritizing your work
- Delegating tasks
- Automating processes
- Cutting out distractions
- Creating a schedule that works for you
Ready? Let’s get started!
What does it mean to manage your time?
In 2022, the world is faster than ever. We’re rushing around to meet deadlines and appointments, trying to balance work and our personal lives. Time management has become an essential skill for success. But what does it mean to manage your time?
Managing your time means setting priorities and goals, organizing your work schedule, and using time-saving techniques. It’s not always easy, but with a few simple tips, you can conquer time management and be successful.
If you’re someone who likes self-improvement, you may have tried one of the following unhelpful strategies:
- Setting unrealistic goals, such as “I’m going to get up at 5am every day this week”
- Working long hours without taking breaks
- Procrastinating on tasks you don’t enjoy
- Multitasking, which can actually lead to decreased productivity
If any of these sound familiar, don’t worry! You can still improve your time management skills, and we’re here to help.
Before you start
You can’t begin working on your time management straight off the bat — so hold off on your New Year’s resolutions for a bit longer! You need to do some groundwork first. This means taking the time to assess your goals and how you currently spend your time. Only then can you start making tweaks that will help you better manage your time.
Once you have a good understanding of where you’re at, it’s time to set some goals. Time management is all about using your time in the most effective way possible, so your goals should reflect this.
They could be anything from wanting to get more work done in less time, to wanting to have more leisure time. But whatever they are, make sure they’re SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
Here are a few more ways to prepare yourself for a time management upheaval:
- Make a list of all the activities you do in a day, both work and personal. This will give you a basis from which to start making changes for better productivity.
- Start by evaluating how much time you spend on each activity. Where is the bulk of your time going?
- Try to identify any bad habits you have that are wasting your time. This could be anything from checking your phone constantly to watching too much TV.
- Identify the biggest time wasters in your life and find ways to eliminate them or at least reduce their impact.
- Make a plan. Once you have an idea of what you want to achieve, put together a plan of how you’re going to do it. This could involve setting specific times for certain tasks, breaking down bigger goals into smaller steps, or using time management tools and apps.
Once you’ve done all this groundwork, it’s time to start implementing changes. But be prepared for it to take some time before you see results. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your new time management skills won’t be, either! Be patient and keep at it, and you’ll start seeing improvements in no time.
Time management tip 1: Prioritize
The first step to conquering time management is learning how to prioritize. What is the most important task that you need to do? What can wait? Learning to differentiate between what is urgent and what is important can help you focus on the tasks that really matter.
So, what can you do to help prioritize your time? There are a few different techniques that can help:
The Eisenhower Matrix: This technique helps you to break down tasks into four categories: urgent and important, not urgent but important, urgent but not important, and not urgent and not important. This can help you to better understand which tasks need your immediate attention and which can wait.
The Pareto Principle: This principle states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the work. In other words, concentrate on the tasks that will have the biggest impact.
The ABCs: With this technique, you prioritize tasks based on their importance using a letter and number system. ‘A’ tasks are very important, ‘B’ tasks are things you should do (but aren’t urgent), and ‘C’ tasks are things you want to do, but won’t face consequences from. You give each task a letter and then a numerical value based on their order of importance.
Whichever technique you choose, the key is to learn how to differentiate between what is important and what is urgent. Once you can do that, you can start to focus on the tasks that will have the biggest impact.
Time management tip 2: Delegate
One of the best ways to conquer time management is to delegate as much as possible. For example, if you have a task that can be delegated to someone else, it’s better to hand it to someone else on your team than to try to do it yourself. This will free up your time to focus on other tasks.
Delegating can feel awkward at first, especially if you are used to doing everything yourself. However, it is important to remember that you are not the only one who can do things well. By delegating tasks, you are allowing others to share in your workload and help you achieve your goals.
When delegating, be sure to clearly communicate the task to the person you are delegating it to. Include any specific instructions they need to complete the task and make sure they understand what is expected of them.
It is also important to be patient and give your team members enough time to complete the task. Remember that they are not you and may not be able to do things the way you would do them. Be willing to help out and provide guidance if needed.
Time management tip 3: Automate
Automation is a strategy that can help you conquer time management by helping you save time on tasks that are repetitive and time-consuming. There are many ways to automate your life, from automating your finances to automating your social media posts. You can also automate your email marketing, which can save you a lot of time on campaigns.
When it comes to automation, some tasks will be easier and more beneficial to automate than others. For example, if you have a blog, you can automate your social media posts by using tools like Hootsuite or Buffer.
Automating your organization
If you are an organization, automation can help you save time on tasks like data entry. There are many tools that can automate data entry, such as Zapier or IFTTT. These tools allow you to connect different applications so that they integrate and work together. This can save you time on tasks like copying and pasting data from one application to another.
You can also automate your email marketing by using a tool like MailChimp. These tools make it easy to schedule your posts and emails, which can help you save time on these tasks.
When it comes to automation, don’t be afraid to try different tools to see what works best for you. There are many tools available, and each one has its own benefits and drawbacks. Try different tools until you find the ones that work best for you and your business.
Time management tip 4: Cut out distractions
One of the best ways to manage your time is to cut out distractions. This means turning off your phone, computer, and any other devices that can take your attention away from what you’re working on. It can also mean putting a limit on how long you allow yourself to check social media or answer emails.
Some of the biggest distractions in our lives are:
- The internet, cell phones, and social media. Because of the way that these things elevate our dopamine levels, it can be very hard to resist checking them constantly.
- Noise. Whether it’s from people or machines, noise can be a major distraction and make it difficult to focus on the task at hand.
- Physical distractions. When you’re trying to work, having things like piles of paperwork or disorganized desks can make it difficult to focus.
- Emotional distractions. Stress, anxiety, and depression can all be major distractions and make it difficult to concentrate on anything else, especially if there’s nothing in your workplace to de-stress or have a break from the bustle of work.
- Our inability to say ‘no’ to things we don’t want to do. We often take on too many tasks because we feel guilty or like we should be able to do it all. This can lead to a lot of wasted time and stress.
To overcome these distractions, make sure you turn off your phone, computer, and other devices when completing work (unless you need them specifically for work purposes).
If you need to have access to your devices at all times, put a time limit on how long you allow yourself to check social media or answer emails.
You should also:
- Find a quiet place to work where you won’t be disturbed.
- Try to eliminate physical distractions by organizing your desk and getting rid of paperwork that isn’t necessary.
- Deal with emotional distractions by managing your stress and anxiety levels. There are a number of different techniques that can help, such as meditation, exercise, and journaling.
- Deal with any workplace conflicts that are stressing you out. If things are left unresolved, you’ll get burned out from the tension.
- Learn how to say ‘no’ to things you don’t want to do. When you start saying no, you’ll find that you have more time to focus on the things that are important to you.
Time management tip 5: Create a routine
You are completely capable of managing your time — but without a routine, time will manage you. Creating and following a routine is one of the most effective time management tips. When your day has a set pattern, it’s much easier to stick to your goals and deadlines.
One way to create a routine is to use a schedule planner or calendar. Block out certain times of the day for different tasks. For example, you may want to dedicate the morning to email and important projects, while the afternoon is for meeting with clients or running errands.
Another way to create a routine is to use time-tracking software. This will help you see where your time is being spent and how you can better use it.
The ‘perfect’ routine
One of the worst things you can do is subscribe to the fantasy of the ‘perfect morning routine’ or ‘productive 10-step evening routine’. Routines should be realistic and achievable, and those unrealistic ones will only set you up for disappointment.
Instead, start by creating a routine for one day of the week. Once you have that down, add another day. And then another. As your routine becomes more solidified, you can start to add in more difficult or time-consuming tasks.
Final tips: tools and software that can elevate your productivity
We’ve covered some of the most important steps to conquering time management in 2022, but there are a few more tools and software that can help you take your productivity to the next level.
- Day.io is a time-tracking app that can help you see where your time is going. It’s a great way to identify areas of improvement and make changes to your routine.
- Monday is a task management tool that helps you break down your to-dos into manageable steps. It also offers a collaborative feature, so you can work with others on projects.
- Todoist helps you create lists and set deadlines for your to-dos. With handy reminders and a clean user interface, it’s a great tool for getting things done.
- Forest helps to give a visual representation of your productivity by growing a virtual tree as you work. It’s a fun way to stay motivated and see your progress over time.
With the right tools and strategies, you can conquer time management in 2022 and beyond!