The Ultimate Time Management Guide
If you ever feel like there is never enough time for you to execute your every planned task, we’re here to assure you that you’re not alone.
But we are also here to tell you that there a way to plan, manage, and execute your daily tasks to complete them before the deadlines and get more time to spend on yourself.
The only thing that you’re missing out is effective time management.
What Is Time Management?
Time management is the process of planning, managing, and executing tasks by smart utilization of time to maximize the productivity.
No matter how easy it sounds, only a few can master effective and efficient time management skills. The process involves auditing your tasks, prioritizing and blocking the time beforehand to perform tasks without any irrelevant distractions.
Why is Time Management Important?
Spoiler alert: Everyone in this world gets the same 24 hours.
But why is that only a few are able to utilize those 24 hours to the fullest?
The answer lies in efficient time management.
High achievers know that attention is the most expensive currency today. They prioritize their tasks, avoid distractions and multitasking, and use time blocking to get the most out of their efforts.
How To Manage Time?
How can you manage your time better? Is it even possible when you can’t even afford to spare 5 minutes to audit and plan your day?
Would you believe us if we tell you that smart time management skills can help you complete your tasks effectively and even help you save some time for yourself?
All you need to do is to follow (or improvise) these time management tips.
6 Time Management Strategies To Make Your Life Easier
Time management involves focusing on results (goals) rather than activities as being busy isn’t the same as being effective and efficient.
Here are some time management tips to help you increase your productivity.
Create A Time Audit
Planning is the most important task of time management. But it also requires you to research on where your time goes throughout the day.
There are a lot of free and paid applications (like Toggl) which can help you track everything you do in a day. Download the reports, segregate the activities, and evaluate them.
This activity will help you find out your most and least time-consuming activity which eventually will help you to prioritize wisely.
If you’ve read our article on ‘How To Prioritize When Everything Seems Important’, this step won’t take you long.
Try to fit your daily tasks under these categories:
Vital & Urgent: Out of the 100 “I need to do this now” tasks, 98 are crucial to your business’s growth, but 2 might have significant consequences if these tasks are not completed in the specified time. These tasks should be labelled vital and urgent.
Vital & Not Urgent: These tasks are of critical importance and can have significant consequences, but these tasks aren’t that urgent and can be performed after other important tasks.
Important & Urgent: These tasks are also very important but do not harm you or your business as significantly as vital tasks if missed.
Important & Not Urgent: These tasks do not carry a significant harm and are also not urgent. Nevertheless, they do require your attention.
Optional: These are the ‘add-on tasks’ which, if performed, will provide some benefit, but they don’t have any consequence if not performed. Optional tasks can also include ‘Important & Not Urgent At All’ tasks.
Rank and execute the tasks in this flow:
- Vital & Urgent
- Important & Urgent
- Vital & Not Urgent
- Important & Not Urgent
Remember to do the most difficult task first as it makes your experience more bearable and enjoyable as, according to psychology, we prefer experiences that improve over time.
Set Up Micro Goals
Micro goals are simply your end goal broken down into hourly or daily mini goals (mini milestones). Most of the people can’t follow their time schedule because they tend to start the task at the eleventh hour. Just because they didn’t put much effort on it before, they have no choice but to spend all their efforts and time on completing the concerned task.
Setting up micro goals helps you to understand your tasks better right from the start, do work more efficiently, use the free time effectively, and take more breaks.
Suppose you have to submit a presentation after 2 days. Instead of starting the presentation on the D-day, craft micro goals in such a way that you complete a part of it today and tomorrow in a way that it doesn’t seem to be a burden or a very daunting task after 2 days.
Know Your Goals
“I’ll complete few slides of the presentation today” will not help you in effective time management. “I’ll complete the first five slides today and it should not take me more than half an hour (+10 minutes buffer)” is the suggested practice here.
You can’t complete your tasks effectively till the time you’re clear about what exactly is to be done. Most people start the task without knowing where to end. It’s very beneficial if you start the day and your tasks with definite goals.
Use Time Blocking & Maintain A Time Management Worksheet
Planning is important to avoid distractions and repetitions, and time blocking is an amazing planning strategy which increases your productivity by 150%
It is a process/art of dedicating a certain time (a certain number of hours) to just one task and block your mind off from other tasks.
Time blocking always helps when you have a myriad of activities to do and your mind could easily get distracted by other pending activities. It helps you to devote your 100% attention to a certain task for a specific time period. This improves your productivity to a great extent.
Time blocking could be exercised by maintaining a simple time management worksheet or using any similar smartphone time management application. Here is an example of a simple time management worksheet:
Emails, phone calls, chats, doubts from juniors, a sudden realization of other tasks, etc. pose the greatest threat to an efficient time management strategy. Keep a check on self-induced distractions like checking your emails and your smartphone after every 5 minutes, deviating to other tasks, etc.
It’ll be a lot of pain in the initial days but keeping your phone away from you while you’re working will eventually end up in effective time management.
Time Management Resources
Efficient time management requires skills, effort, and good resources. Here is a list of some time management games, apps, books, and activities to help you manage your team and your time better.
Time Management Activities
Time management activities are very helpful if you desire to teach your team the importance of time. Here are two really good time management activities we stumbled upon on some LinkedIn discussions.
The Priority Jar
Divide the group into teams and give each team a large glass container. Now distribute rocks, stones, gravel, sand, water, and sugar and ask them to fill the glass container with as much material as possible.
After them done trying, use the moment to teach them the importance of prioritizing by filling the container with rocks first (as they are the biggest) which form the most important projects followed by stones which are daily important tasks but not as important as rocks. Next comes the gravel, the sand, the water, and the sugar in the said order. This will result in the jar being filled with every material without compromising on anything.
Use this activity to teach your team about prioritization and how effective prioritization can make their life easier.
Tell participants that they just won an $86,400 lottery and can spend it in any way they wish. But the only condition is that they can’t bank any money and will lose it if they don’t spend it in one day.
Have a healthy discussion on how your team members chose to spend the amount and why they did the same.
After the discussion, tell them that 86400 are the number of seconds they have each day and talk about why they should try to make most of each moment.
Time Management Apps
Even though the digital world acts as the biggest distraction to effective time management, it also provides us with the ways to cope up with them. Here’s a list of best time management applications to help you manage your time wisely:
- Toggl: Really simple application for time tracking
- Workflow: an effective application to build your workflows with a simple drag-and-drop interface
- Clara: The AI email application which schedules and coordinates your meetings. Just CC Clara on your emails and leave the rest to it.
- RescueTime: a great time-tracking app that records how and where you spend your time online.
Time Management Books
Here’s a list of 3 best time management books if you want to get into more depths of time management
- Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
- Becoming The 1%: How To Master Time Management And Rise To The Top In 7 Days
- What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast
Go On, Tell Us What You Think!
Did we miss something? Come on! Tell us what you think about our article in the comments section.