Time management is all about working smarter rather than working harder or longer. Here are 10 time management tips to help you work smarter:
Check out the full Forbes article written by Bernard Marr here.
1. Do the important jobs first.
People often like to get the most unpleasant task ticked off the list first, just to get it done. Others like to get quick and easy tasks done first, just to feel like they’re achieving stuff. But it’s far better to prioritize in order of importance, regardless of whether it’s hard or not.
2. Ruthlessly prioritize your time.
I like to use the ABC Method to plan my day and prioritize tasks in order of importance. An “A” task is my most important, must-do item for the day (or, if there’s more than one A task, I label them A1, A2, and so on). “B” tasks are secondary tasks that are less important than A tasks – you never move onto a B task while there are still A tasks on the list. And C tasks are those that are nice to get done, but it’s not a big deal if they don’t happen that day. I start every morning with this method (or you could do it at the end of each day, ready for the next day).
3. Set a time limit for each task.
Once I’ve made my to-do list for the day, I set time limits for each task on the list. This ensures I don’t let tasks expand to fill more time than they really need, and it keeps my day manageable because I know what I can realistically achieve.
4. Find your productive hours.
Productive people don’t fill every hour of their day – they know when they work best, and they make sure they get the important stuff done during those hours. Follow their lead and block out your most productive hours (be they in the morning, in the quiet of the evening, or whatever) for the most important tasks. Avoid filling that precious time up with meetings or less important jobs – which are better suited to other times of the day.
5. Don’t multitask.
Multitasking is the enemy of productivity because you can end up not doing anything properly. Give one task at a time your full attention, and finish that before moving on to the next item.
6. Eliminate distractions.
I love working from home, but I recognize that some people find it distracting. It certainly helps to turn off notifications on your phone or turn on your phone’s “do not disturb mode” when you need to and set boundaries for anyone sharing your space. (For example, by saying, “For the next hour, I really need to get my head down and concentrate” or “When my office door is closed, it means do not disturb.”) The same tips also apply when you’re in an office environment.
7. Learn to say no.
Saying no – politely but firmly – is an art form, and if you can master it, you’ll feel much more in control of your time. Very often, it’s not even a case of saying no but setting expectations for when you can do something – for example, by saying something like “I can’t do this until next week.”
8. Weigh up the consequences of doing something versus not doing it.
If you’re really procrastinating, ask yourself, “What will happen if I don’t get this done?” If the answer is “Er, not much,” then it’s probably not that important. But if you know, there might be serious consequences if you put it off, that might give you the extra motivational nudge you need.
9. Understand that sometimes – just sometimes – procrastination can be a good thing.
The urge to procrastinate might be telling you something (for example, that you’re tired and need a break). And sometimes, the mind just needs a bit of time to wander, imagine and be creative – and that’s also a good thing.
10. Finally, if you find yourself not wanting to do many of the tasks associated with your to-do list, then maybe it’s time to switch jobs!
Seriously, ask yourself whether it’s really the right job for you because it’s not “normal” to dislike your job or feel constantly demotivated.
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