4 Mental Techniques to Improve Your Time Management | Brian Tracy
How to Improve Time Management Skills
It is difficult to get work done, meet deadlines, and be productive if you do not have good time management skills. Luckily, these are skills that you can work on and improve. The foundation of good time management includes organization and setting yourself up for success.
Finding the Areas that Need Improvement
Keep a time diary.You may wonder where all of your time goes each day. Carry a notebook around and write down everything you do and for how long. You may be surprised about how you spend your time. Be honest when you do this.
- Try keeping a diary for at least a few days to get a good picture of how you typically spend your day. For example, going to a birthday dinner or a doctor’s appointment is not an everyday task for you and could throw your schedule off.
Write down all the ways you waste time.There are many ways that you can waste time. Do you spend a lot of time on social media? Do you hang out with your friends when you should be doing other things? Do you spend hours in front of the television?
- It is important that you know yourself and your habits so you can make changes.
- Look through your time inventory and see areas that you can cut back on.
Determine why you procrastinate.Instead of becoming upset that you are putting a task off, try to figure out the reasons for your procrastination. Think of procrastinating as a symptom of a larger problem and try to get to the root cause. Are you scared to do the task? Are you tired? Is the task boring? Is the task too easy or too hard?
- If the task is too easy, offer yourself little rewards for completing each step.
- If the task is too hard, deadlines and small steps are the best way to tackle it.
- Take into consideration the amount of time you spend procrastinating as well when you do your time diary.
Make lists.Make lists of everything you plan on doing that day or that week. Once you're done, cross those things out so that you feel encouraged and motivated. Your list should be realistic and attainable. If you make a list of 20 items but only achieve 5 items on your list, you will feel like you didn’t get anything done.
- Prioritize your tasks so you know what’s most important and needs to be completed first.
- If your list is too long, try having separate lists for different areas of your life such as personal, school/work, and home.
- People are typically more productive in the morning. Try to complete a more difficult task from your list in the morning and then handle the other items on your list. You will feel accomplished and can carry that momentum into the rest of your day.
Have deadlines.Your list only works if you actually use it. Setting deadlines will hold you accountable. Do your best to stick to your deadlines. Also be sure to set realistic deadlines that consider your responsibilities and other obligations.
- For example, if you need to schedule some personal appointments but will be tied up at meetings during work all day, a realistic deadline would be scheduling all of the appointments in the next few days instead of by the end of your busy work day.
- Give yourself some room for error when choosing a deadline. The deadline should be a few days before your task has to be finished.
Set reminders.You can set alarms on your phone, computer, or place visual reminders of the things you have to get done. Use the method that works best for you. It may help to use multiple methods as well. Your reminders should be set for the final deadline and any mini deadlines to keep you on schedule.
- For example, if you have a task that needs to be completed in 2 weeks, you may have reminders set at day 7, day 10, and day 14.
Make use of a calendar.Systematize all your daily tasks so you can manage your time efficiently. Always check your calendar at the start of the day and make any necessary changes, so you know all your tasks for the day. Make sure your calendar is easily accessible and highlights all important events.
Plan during your downtime.You experience downtime throughout your day. You can use that time to make a quick list or set your priorities for the day. Commuting to work/school is an ideal time to get some of this planning done.
- All of your downtime should not be devoted to planning and organizing. This could become stressful and do more harm than good.
- If you have 10 minutes of downtime, start by devoting 2 or 3 minutes to getting organized.
Do not multitask.You may think you are getting more done if you try to juggle a few things at once. However, doing too many things at once, you never give a single task your complete focus and attention. You will be more efficient if you devote all of your energy to complete a task before you move on to the next.
- For example, instead of answering emails and returning phone calls at the same time; answer all of your emails before you make phone calls.
- Switching back and forth between tasks is more work for your brain and slows down the process.
Delegate responsibilities if you can.You cannot do everything yourself. Allowing another person to take care of something allows you to devote yourself to another task while still getting everything done. Be sure you delegate to someone that is reliable and trustworthy. You do not want to waste time worrying if the person will get things done.
- Remember that delegating is a sign of strength and intelligence not weakness.
Get rid of distractions.You will complete a task more quickly if you can give it your full attention. Turn off any distractions such as email notifications, your phone, television, social media. Set aside time when you do not want to be disturbed and do not address any interruptions unless you have to.
- For example, if you plan to write or read something for 45 minutes, do not answer your phone or respond to any emails during this time. If you turn off the notifications, you will not even notice that people are trying to get in contact with you. Once the 45 minutes are up, you can check your email.
- Social media is a big distraction. Schedule social media time throughout the day and stay away from it unless it is during a scheduled time block.
Take breaks.You cannot work or be productive 24 hours a day. Schedule breaks throughout your day. A break will allow you to recharge and come back to a task with a fresh perspective.During a scheduled break you may:
- Get on social media
- Call a friend
- Take a walk
- Meditate or do some stretching
- Try to do something on your break that is completely unrelated to your task.
Give yourself incentives.At the start of a task that you don't really feel like doing, promise yourself a reward at the end of it. For example, if you have a writing assignment you need to complete but are in no mood to do, allow yourself to use Instagram for half an hour or less once you're done with the assignment.
- Make sure your reward is something that you really enjoy.
- Your reward should never cause a setback or cause you to get off track.
Avoid over-scheduling.It is easy to take on more than you can handle or believe that you can accomplish a task in a shorter amount of time. Try to be realistic and schedule only those things which you think you can achieve in an allocated amount of time. Also, try not to take on a lot of extra work.
- Learn to say “no” if you are already too busy. If you cannot say no, be honest about your time constraints. For example, if someone asks you to get something done by the end of the day, you may say, “I’m a little overloaded right now, but I can have it to you by the end of tomorrow.”
- Over-scheduling can also lead to stress. When you are stressed, you become less productive.
Evaluate your schedule.At the end of each day, take a look at your list. If you did not accomplish everything on your list, what could you have done differently? What things did you do well? Adjust your schedule based on your evaluation.
- It will take time to find the best strategies for you. Maybe phone reminders work well, but planning during your downtime makes you super stressed.
QuestionHow do I avoid over-scheduling myself?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerRank the things you need to schedule from least to most important, and build the most important items into your schedule first. Once you've finished the more difficult tasks on your list, you can take the smaller items one by one to prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed.Thanks!
- Try to wake up early so you have a head start.
- Always keep deadlines in mind.
- Give yourself some time off to relax and collect yourself.
- Try to get enough sleep each night. This way, you will be active enough to achieve your goals and work efficiently.
Video: 15 Tips To Manage Your Time Better
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