Managing your time really boils down to specific time management skills that you can practice and learn over time to become more productive. There are certain skills that are common sense – create a to-do list, but what about those skills that don’t seem like common sense?
Here are five of the best time management skills that can be less intuitive than you would think:
1) Start Early. The moment you get a project or task, you need to start it. For me, that means figuring out what I’ll need to complete a task. For others, it could mean creating an outline or a plan. Whatever it is that you need to do, start on the task as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more likely you will continue to procrastinate and never complete the task at hand. Starting early is something that procrastinators will have a hard time doing at first. But practice makes perfect with this time management skill. The added benefit to this skill is that even if you end up procrastinating, you’ve still started enough that you won’t be racing against the clock as much.
2) Prioritize. Anytime you have more than one thing to do, something has to be more important than the other tasks. Not everything can be equal. What’s more is that order of importance can change on a daily basis so it is important to continually check your priorities. Take the time to develop a list of tasks in ranking order of importance. This can also become your to-do list – the biggest friend of time management skills. By taking the time every morning to figure out what is most important can set your entire day up for success.
3) Delegate. This one seems the least intuitive. So often, we think that we are responsible for everything on our to-do list. That’s not necessarily the case. It’s not just okay to ask for help, but it’s also okay to give out tasks to others. Don’t let your plate build up with too many tasks. If there are things you can pass on, then do it. Whether this is asking your spouse to pick up an additional chore or asking a coworker to work on a project, delegation is a huge part of time management.
4) No More Multi-Tasking. The biggest no-no of time management skills is multi-tasking. So many people think it’s a great way to get more done, but the cost is greater than the reward. By multi-tasking, you are more likely to do a worse job that might need redone. Save that time in the beginning by focusing solely on the task at hand. A big part of quitting multi-tasking is to get rid of distractions. How are you able to work on a project when you’re texting? Another part of this skill is figuring out if you can handle any distractions. For me, I can’t really listen to music while I’m working because I find myself singing along instead of working. Time management skills are not one-size fits all. You have to take the tip at face value and then determine what works for you.
5) Perfect What Needs Perfecting. Many times, when we aim to work on our time management, we worry about other aspects of projects. However, this skill is about focusing on what needs to be perfect. If you have a simple task ahead that doesn’t require much, don’t spend hours upon hours on it. Get it done and get it done right. Save the perfection and last minute touches for the bigger project – the one that means more. Don’t waste valuable time perfecting a small task. All too often, when people begin to work on their time management skills, they begin to take on new projects around the house. Organizing your bookshelf in the middle of the day instead of working on an actual project is not a good use of your time. That’s the essence of this skill – work on what you actually have to work on. Don’t pick up other projects along the way and hope to finish them.
Not every time management skill is going to make sense at first – some are going to feel like completely time wasters. For me, it was quitting multi-tasking that was the hardest. I always wanted to be doing three things at once, but when I saw the quality of my work, I knew it was time to only focus on one thing at a time.
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