How To Effectively Manage Your Time To Create Your Most Productive Self
Everyone needs these powerful time management skills to make the most out of time available. Implementing the time management strategies that high achievers use daily can help you make more money, spend more time relaxing, and achieve deeper happiness in your life.
The reason to develop your time management skills is to make every day count.
No matter whether you work for yourself or for a boss, your goal should be to accomplish as much of value as possible in a typical day. Setting deadlines for things to do, and then meeting them, is a personal challenge each of us faces.
Working more intelligently, beating the clock and accomplishing your tasks within time can set you ahead of the crowd.
These 9 time management skills can help you make better use of your time. You’ll no longer struggle to fit a to-do list that’s too long into a 24 hour day that seems to shrink by the minute!
1. Set Clear Goals
Unless you know what you’re setting out to do, how will you know when it’s done?
Spell out your objectives before you begin a task. At the same time, ask yourself if it really needs to be done, and if it does, should you be the person doing it (or can you delegate it to others?)
2. Make Your List
Writing down things to do frees you from the bother of having to remember them – and risk forgetting something important.
You don’t need fancy time management tools. A simple ruled notebook and a pen or pencil will do.
Make sure your list is manageable, and only includes important tasks.
3. Delegate What You Can
When you’ve drawn up your list of things to do, see which of the items can be handed over to someone else on your team.
Do only the things that you have to do, and assign the rest to others.
4. Take Advantage of Down Time
While walking, jogging, driving, or waiting to meet someone, make use of the ‘dead’ time to plan and catch up with tasks.
Carry along material that can help you make use of the time. Listen to tapes or CDs, dictate notes, and prepare for meetings during these periods.
5. Do One Thing At A Time
Multi-tasking is the biggest energy drain and time waster invented.
Human beings are not hard wired to multi-task. Yet we fool ourselves thinking we are capable of handling multiple tasks simultaneously.
The lack of focus means you’ll take longer to do each task than if you focused on it exclusively.
6. Stop Procrastinating
The greatest delays in any project happens during the time before you start working on it. Procrastination kills productivity.
So stop procrastinating.
Hit the ground running. Once you start work, you’ll soon pick up steam and hit your stride.
Physical fitness improves your focus and concentration, and keeps you energized and enthusiastic about your work.
Working out every day can boost your productivity like nothing else, and that’s why it is included in this list of time management skills to work on.
8. Set Yourself Deadlines
Normally, deadlines increase stress and anxiety.
But set your own personal deadlines – and make them earlier than when the project is due. That way you actually alleviate the last minute stress and strain.
At the same time, you’ll enhance your productivity. You’ll enjoy the buffer time you’ll get by finishing tasks ahead of time.
9. Slow Down
Deep breathing helps relieve stress, slow down your heart rate, reduce your blood pressure and increase oxygen content in your circulation.
All of this can boost productivity and reduce anxiety, so that your focus will be sharper and you’ll get things done quickly.
All these time management skills are easily learned and practiced. The Ming Vase Time Management guides go deeper into the specific skills you’ll need the most to improve your effectiveness.
You can also sign up to the free “Time Taozine” for updates about time management skills. Just submit the registration form below.
4 Reasons Why Everyone Needs Time Management Skills
At a recent college reunion, twenty-five years after we first entered college, I met many old classmates and re-learned one important lesson.
Being Time Efficient Is HIGHLY Profitable!
One theme kept popping up over and over again in our conversations.
“Our kids rarely get to see their dad, he’s so busy!”
“I go to work at 6 a.m. and get back around 7 in the evening!”
“My son WON’T be a doctor – because he sees how crazy our schedule is!”
And invariably, the next question is: “As a surgeon, you must work very long hours, right?”
They were all surprised when I said my average ‘work day’ at the hospital is 2 hours – except when I’m operating, when it is 7 hours (or longer, depending upon how complex the surgery is).
How do I manage this?
Why do I have so much “free time” when everyone else has “No Time”?
How am I juggling so many exciting projects in ADDITION to my regular work?
It’s really quite simple.
Let me explain.
Too often, we struggle, rush and get stressed because we don’t know what we want.
Oh, you probably do in a very general, broad way.
“I want to be rich.”
“I want to be fit and healthy.”
“We want more family time.”
“I want to travel the world.”
“I want to help charities.”
But that won’t do. You need to first get specific. Very specific.
And then, you’ve got to identify the best way to achieve those goals.
Now, this may not be a quick fifteen minute exercise. It could take days, even weeks or months before you discover what you really want and come up with a workable plan, before you can set out to get it.
It is time well spent (or rather, invested) – because those plans and action steps will guide you towards the highest and best use of your limited time.
In essence, the powerful time management secrets boil down to four different things.
Time Management Skills #1
We all have a ‘to do’ list. Some of us have it written down. Others carry it in our head. But for most of us, it is pretty long. And often, we’re stressed about how we can’t get through it…before it grows even longer with new things to do.
The trouble is, we don’t accept the reality that our ‘to do’ list is never going to be ‘done’. As best-selling author Richard Carlson says in his book, “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff”, you’re going to die with your in-tray full.
The key is to get used to that idea and decide which of the many things clamoring for your attention are going to get done!
Setting priorities can be a tough task. Without a clear idea of what you want to do, where you want to get, how quickly you want to reach your goals, and what your biggest dreams are, you will find it practically impossible to decide which tasks to work on.
But once you’ve attained clarity on your goals, it is much simpler to pick and choose the things to pay attention to.
All it takes is the answer to a question:
“Is this taking me closer to my goals?”
Whenever the answer is ‘No’, you know it is NOT a priority.
In my new book “Knife At A Gunfight – 5 Easy Ways To Transform Your Life“, I dive deeper into the subject of setting the right priorities and getting things done.
If you want to set goals you can achieve effortlessly, this book will transform your life… in 5 easy steps!
Time Management Skills #2
Setting priorities is the first task. Once you know what matters most, the next critical thing is to focus on getting it done.
It is far more common to see ourselves fluttering from one crisis to another, in constant ‘fire-fighting mode’, putting out one conflagration after another.
We’re busy right until we retire to bed, tired and worn out. Only to awaken the next morning to a repeat of the previous day’s sequence.
Not surprisingly, whenever we review progress after an interval, we find we’re nowhere closer to our goals than a few months (or years) back!
That’s disturbing – and depressing. The solution is to remain focused on what we’re doing, ignoring other distractions and drama, pushing aside the less important jobs until the important ones are finished.
Brian Tracy’s excellent short book, “Eat That Frog”, uses a powerful analogy to showcase the benefits of turning your attention towards the single most important task on your list every morning – and not letting go until it is completed.
That’s an approach I can vouch for, as I follow it myself.
Very rarely do I let something distract me from the three important things I set out to finish every day.
The benefits that come by way of a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction of moving towards the goals you set for yourself.
It will energize and inspire you to keep going the next day.
And then the next.
Until, before you even realize it, you’ve made substantial progress towards hitting your targets.
Time Management Skills #3
Creativity thrives on chaos. At least, that’s what I tell myself whenever I glance at the cluttered mess that’s my desktop!
But while that may well be true, it is hard to argue with the benefits of being organized. Even amidst my clutter, I know exactly where every important piece of information is.
Every tool, every file, every document. And every contact number.
I have arranged things in a way that I can lay my hands on them … with little disturbance or delay. This means that work on a project can proceed smoothly and quickly.
In the past, I would waste hours searching for my notes, or hunting for a pencil, or moving around the office to access things I needed.
It did take some planning and thought to set things up. But at a conservative estimate it has saved me a few hours every week in wasted effort. That makes it well worth the time invested into the organization.
Sadly, being organized is not a one-time effort.
You will find yourself needing to stay on top of things, filing and sorting stuff periodically, and steadily revising and improving and tweaking your arrangement to fit your changing needs.
But once it becomes a habit, you’ll just keep doing it automatically – and enjoy the advantages of an organized work space.
Time Management Skills #4
Effectiveness Trumps Efficiency
This final point is very important. Too many guides on the subject of time management focus on being efficient. But mere efficiency will not help you get closer to your goals. It matters more that you are effective.
What’s the difference?
Efficiency is getting things done in a more streamlined manner. Faster. With less effort. In a better way.
Surely that’s a good thing?
Yes, it is.
But let me explain with an example.
Let’s say you’re very good at climbing up a tall ladder, and can reach the top of it very quickly and with little effort. Will that skill help you – if the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall?!
Even if you’re slower at climbing it, if the ladder is against the right wall, you’ll eventually get to where you want to be.
It is more important that you are…
Doing the right things
Not just doing whatever you do more efficiently.
That’s where the initial exercise of knowing exactly what you want, and devising a plan to get there, becomes so crucial.
- Effective action will take you closer to where you want to be.
- Efficiency in that action will help you reach sooner, easier, and at lesser expense.
I understand that this outline seems broad and general. But the principles are powerful and you can adapt them to your own circumstances, however varied they may be.
There are specific things to do at each stage and they will depend upon you, your work, your goals and several other factors.
Recently, I wrote an ebook titled “How To Be Rich” which goes a little deeper into the four steps I outlined above.
The ebook once sold for $27 – but if you would like a copy, you can download it at a discount from this link for a limited time.
How You Can Strengthen Skills In Time Management
When you set out to strengthen skills in time management, often you begin by changing your mindset and views about what it really means to manage time.
Once the paradigm shifts, you’ll unlock greater efficiency in multiple forms and revolutionize the way you go about managing your schedule.
One of the hardest mindset shifts is when you’re trying to strengthen skills in time management.
Realize that you don’t have to do it all yourself. It’s an easy lesson to learn. It’s also the hardest to learn.
It may well take many long months (even years) of working on various elements of your work and career, trying to juggle it all by yourself, before you came to terms with this reality and accept it.
But once you do, it will save you a LOT of time when you modify your time management techniques.
Get Help With Time Management Skills
No matter what task you want help with, there’s someone to do it for you. The only considerations are whether
- you can find someone,
- decide if you can trust that person with the task, and
- if you can compensate them adequately for the work they will do for you.
That’s the surest way to strengthen skills in time management. It doesn’t matter how skilled or experienced you are at something, there is no way on earth that you can do as much as a team working together.
Why Time Management Skills Matter
If you know
- how to identify and train the right kind of qualified person to take over parts of the tasks that you were handling earlier, and
- the task will cost you less than the value of your time,
then it becomes a no-brainer to outsource it to the expert team you’ve built.
Time Management Skills : An Example
Take the example of a sales process.
Suppose you are a sales-person, and find that in one day you can meet 10 people and sell 4 people out of 10 your product.
Then if you hire 2 sales people who each are only half as effective as you are… they will still sell AS MANY COPIES of your product as you can in a day!
Plus, you’ll have time to spare, and can finish other things.
Multiply this by an entire fleet of sales people and you’ll see how this simple tweak will strengthen skills in time management. It will also free up your day, and let you leverage your talents in many more ways.
It is this approach which is grounded in the timeless principles of Time Management Tao, namely
- Find your center – know WHAT to do
- Understand your order – know HOW to do it
- Pick your timing – know WHO to use & WHEN
2 Highly Desirable Skills in Time Management
We each have skills in time management. They help us get through life. Otherwise, we’d all be helplessly confused, behind schedule and unable to accomplish even the simplest tasks.
But if you’re struggling to handle your to-do list and comfortably finish your daily tasks, then there are some skills in time management that you have probably not acquired yet.
Here are 2 such highly desirable methods that can transform your efficiency.
1. Break down big tasks into manageable bite-sized pieces
Procrastination is your biggest enemy when it comes to managing time. One of the reasons to put something off for later is the fear that it is too tough, complex or extensive to complete within a certain time frame.
The best way to overcome this hurdle is to break down any task into multiple smaller ones. Instead of thinking about writing a book, look at it as writing a series of 20 articles, one every day.
That way, you can manage to write an article in 30 to 60 minutes daily – and by repeating this regularly over 3 weeks, you’ll finish a book.
In any major task, there are multiple pieces in the puzzle that each require a certain amount of work, time and expense. If you thought about all of them at once, you’d become overwhelmed – and put off starting.
So take out a sheet of paper and list the individual tasks that you will address.
Then start working through them one by one.
Before you even realize it, you’ll finish the complex task!
This is one of the highly desirable skills in time management. There’s another one too.
2. Monitor yourself – don’t look for outside supervision
The hardest part of time management for self-employed entrepreneurs and people who work unsupervised by a boss is to monitor themselves.
When you’re at work, your time is accountable. You must answer to your boss, colleagues, co-workers. If you goof off, someone will pull you up – very likely give you an earful.
But as your own boss, you’ll often find it harder to stay focused and maximize efficiency – by not wasting time.
If you learn to manage your time on your own, without needing external influence to keep you on target, you have overcome a major obstacle on the path to success. That’s one of the other skills in time management.
Simple Time Management Skills Can Transform Your Life
Many simple time management skills will totally change the way you live, work and have fun. You’ll go from a point of being starved for free time to enjoying abundant leisure to indulge in everything you want.
Among the simple time management skills that are most effective are the following.
- Learn how to turn down chores or
- Delegate them intelligently
- Time your activities to finish them efficiently, and
- Focus only on the most important tasks.
Another time management skill you should master is to chunk your time into blocks.
How to chunk time into blocks for projects?
When you work on a particular task, you get into the ‘flow’ in a few minutes – and that’s broken when the rhythm is disturbed by an interruption.
Several studies have shown that barely 30% of people return to the task they were doing if they were interrupted during it.
Worse, even if you manage to get back to it, the rhythm has been destroyed. It’s harder to hit your stride and thereby wastes precious time.
When you try and get back to the task, you’re starting all over again, and won’t reach the state of ‘flow’ for a few minutes (or hours).
The smart thing to do is ensure you are not disturbed or distracted when doing something important – for at least as long as it takes to complete the job.
Allot chunks of time (their length depends on the nature of the work to be done). This lets you enhance productivity while spending the least amount of time on the job.
It is far better to spend 30 minutes undisturbed than 3 smaller time blocks of 10 minutes each on a project.
Learn Simple Time Management Skills
Coaches who teach simple time management skills talk about the concept of ‘protected time’. During this time, everyone at home knows not to disturb you. That applies even for children. You’ll only allow emergencies.
By clearly defining a block of time during which you will focus exclusively on a task, you increase the chance of completing it. You’ll finish the work most efficiently, and free up more time to concentrate on other jobs. Or you’ll have quality time to spend with family and friends.
Also, while doing a specific type of work, and if you have the tools, applications, material and people for it, it’s best to chunk all related types of work together.
That way you can optimally leverage available resources and get them all finished expediently.
How To Approach This?
One of the most simple time management skills is to work with lists. Make a list of the things you need to do and prioritize them by grouping them into 4 categories:
- A. Do I absolutely have to do this?
- B. Do I need to do it today?
- C. Would be nice if I finished it?
- D. Do I just have to complete it at some point?
You then do the things in the A column first, grouping them into common chunks and finishing them quickly. You then rework the list and do the things that now make their way into the A column and so on.
The list evolves over the course of a working day since things change over time, which is the reason you must re-prioritize it before chunking the tasks into blocks.
Time Management Tao teaches many such simple management skills rooted in the three tenets of knowing how to
- 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 find more details about specific elements of time management skills such as learning how to focus in the series of Ming Vase Time Management guides.
And to continue learning simple time management skills, sign up for our free email newsletter – the “Time Taozine”. Join by submitting the form here.