It's nearly impossible to do everything your schedule entails. Think about it: you go to work from 9-5, then you come home eat, relax, work on establishing your business, go to networking events, and do a slew of other things that most humans wouldn't be able to handle. With so much on your plate, something is bound to fall off. Especially when you aren't managing your time more wisely. And when you add a mountain of distractions like the TV, Twitter, Facebook, iChat, and Skype, more work falls off and more time is lost.
Whether it is spending more time with loved ones or getting more work done in general, time management is the key to getting more work done in a short amount of time efficiently.
Here are 10 ways to manage your time better:
- Set A Schedule/ Make a "To Do" List- When life gives you a mountain of work, how do you climb over it? You set a schedule. Setting a schedule will enable you to not only make a list of everything that needs to be done and when, but it also allows you to focus your attention on each task for a set period of time before moving to the next one. Personally my to do lists are on a weekly basis, I highlight the most important ones for the day, and then check off what's been completed. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and it helps me to remember everything that needs to be done.
- Prioritize-What's most important in your life? Although we have several tasks to take care of before the day or week or month is over with, what's the most important task? There are somethings that aren't on our lists that feel important but they really aren't. Paying bills on time-important. Finishing that presentation for work before the morning-important. Sitting on Twitter for hours taking part in the latest trending topic-UNIMPORTANT. There is a time and place for everything. Prioritize your life and you won't get flustered when you are up late at night, rushing to finish a project.
- Strategize-sometimes when you're given a lot of work, much of it can compliment something else that needs to be done. Come up with a strategy to get the most out of everything you do. If you have to do research for a paper and research for a project, create a strategy to get the research done for both at the same time. Dive into that bit of bottomless tasks with the right strategy to knock them out.
- Write Things Down-I've discussed it in #1, but writing things down is a major component in managing your time. Have you ever tried to to keep a running list of things to do in your mind, just to find out at the end of the day you forgot something incredibly important? When you right things down, it actually helps you to remember those things. You may or may not look at that list for the rest of the day, but the sheer fact that it's available to you tangibly gives you more mental security. Plus, with the advent of technology, you don't even have to waste paper anymore. If you're work has you on the computer all day, like me, then you can download a ton of different "note" "list" or "to do" apps on your computer or phone so your daily tasks are always available when you forget.
- Get Research Out of The Way Early- Having to do research for a project, paper, presentation, business plan, or marketing strategy can be tedious work but it has to be done. Make a plan as to what you specifically need to do research on. When you make a plan for what you will be researching, you can cut down the hours on Google getting frustrated because you can't find what you are looking for. When you get research out of the way early, it leaves your time open to effortlessly integrate it into whatever it is your are working on.
- Do What You Do Best First- When it comes to this blog, I write much better than I do the html coding for it. I know a nice amount about html, but it still takes me a minute to do it especially when I'm not sure what to put. But the writing takes me the shortest amount of time. Same goes for anything else. If you are better at one task than you are at another, get that task out of the way first. Doing what you're best at first helps to create momentum to complete the task you fall short in.
- Multitask-It's true every one does not know how to multi-task effectively. It takes a lot of focus and brain power that some people just aren't born or blessed with. But it's okay. Those who aren't blessed with multi-tasking skills can still multi-task to some degree. Group like tasks together, say laundry, ironing, and putting up. Then create an assembly line like system. Put the laundry in first, organize the clothes to be ironed, fold them and then put the clothes up after you're done, and repeat. The same can apply to anything else. If you have three or four tasks that involve the computer, work on one project for about 20-30 minutes then move on to the next task until they all get done.
- Take breaks-You wouldn't think taking a break could help you manage your time better or get more work done. But it truly does. The reason we end up getting distracted or off task is because we get tired. We overload ourselves with doing the work and then can't commit to finishing it because we feel like we should just go straight through the work. When you short frequent breaks, you are giving your brain time to rest for a minute. Kinda like a bathroom break for your brain. When you return you'll be more refreshed and ready to finish what you started.
- Unplug- Distractions. We know we succumb to it, but we won't admit it. Social media, television, friends, cell phones, and even family can be huge distractions when we are trying to get things done. Whether you are in that last stretch of the work race or just beginning, unplug from the world to encourage that momentum to remain steady. Tune out the world with some motivating music, turn off the tv, put the phone on vibrate, tell your friends and family you'll see them later and get some work done. In the end, you'll see you got more work done than you ever have before.
- When In Doubt, Dish It Out- As much as we like to think of ourselves as Supermen and Superwomen, the truth of the matter is we aren't. Sometimes, life puts a mountain of work in front of us. As much as we think we can tackle it by ourselves, we honestly know that we can't. We have to learn to ask for help when we need. Dishing out the work doesn't make us look weak, far from it. It shows that we know our strengths as well as our weaknesses and we know how to manage our work through other people. Think of it as running a mini agency.
Time, like money, has to be properly managed in order for it to be used wisely and effectively. When we manage our time better, we can get so much more work done in a short amount of time. Through these ten steps and strategies you create for yourself, you too can be a great time manager.
The Unemployed [but Empowered and Efficient] Entrepreneur