Improve Your Time Management Skills
Time management skills are something that people agree are important to personal and business success. How we learn time management is usually out of necessity. Our bad habits have created a critical juncture in our life, if we don’t adapt new skills sets our peace of mind, productivity, and business success will suffer. Many of us have learned time management skills, but it customizing those skills, making them your own, and then consistently using your new skills that produces results and reduces stress.
There are some great rewards to learning time management skills:
- The elimination of procrastination and avoidance of tasks you don’t enjoy
- Less stress and worry about deadlines
- Increased productivity and income
- The time to relax and unwind
- Increased enjoyment in your career
Different time management skills work for each person, but many of the skills we will discuss can be customized to fit your career, routine and personality. The best plan is to try something on for size, modify it to fit you, and then keep what works. Trial and error will lead you to the best time management skills for you. Try some of our tips and see what works best for you:
Distinguishing the important from the urgent: Many people are always working on the urgent, putting out the fires in their business instead of focusing on the important tasks that will create long-term results for their company. Learning how to distinguish the urgent from the important is paramount to good time management. If you are tending to the urgent, your efforts become fractured and marginalized, whereas the person who focuses on important tasks usually sees incremental progress happening with their business.
Tip-First hour in the morning, work on your most important tasks on you to-do-list, even if you can’t finish or complete the task, you have made incremental progress towards a larger project goal.
Organize your email and bookmarks: The ability to quickly respond to a request, process and synthesize information is an important skill set in the marketplace today. Organization of your inbox is paramount to not drowning in the minutiae.
Tip-Create folders for all your primary tasks or clients with sub folders for the most important tasks, this can greatly reduce the time involved in responding to client emails and upping your professionalism. If the message needs more attention, move it to your to-do-list, for reference-print, and for a meeting print and move to your calendar.
Tip-Organize your browser bookmarks either using a bookmarking service, such as del.icio.us or you be proactive about organizing your bookmarks by clients, tasks, and areas of interest. Stay current.
Create lists: Organize your to-do-list daily. If you don’t know what you need to get done, how can you manage the time needed to accomplish the task? With iPhone, iPad, Androids, there is an overwhelming amount of software available to help you manage your tasks in a way that works best for you.
Tip-Refreshing your task list at the end of a workday leaves you better organized for the next day. Some people like writing their lists, other people like software that automates many of the tasks for them into relevant chunks of doable tasks. Whatever system works best for you is the one that will produce lasting results.
Ban multi-tasking: Do one thing and do it well. Concentrating on one task allows you to bring your entire focus and abilities to the project; the mind works most efficiently when it is focused on one task. Multitasking decreases everyone’s productivity. Genius is not created in multitasking.
Tip- Practicing mindfulness to the task at hand is the surest way to produce winning results.
Schedule checking email: One of the largest productivity crashes happens from incessantly checking and responding to our email messages. It is not effective to read each message as it arrives; people would like a timely response, not an immediate response. This is why there is a priority setting in every email program, believe me, if it’s urgent, it will be marked as such.
Tip-Part of time management is managing expectations; as long as people know how to reach you in an emergency, how long to wait for a response, most emails can be responded to within 24-48 hours without negatively impacting business.
Know your sweet spot: Everyone has a time of day where they are most productive. Some people are “morning people” and some people’s bodies and brains kick into high gear in the afternoon, and then other people are “night owls”.
Tip-You can discover what is your most productive time by monitoring your productivity over time. Find your most productive time and make the most of it. Focusing your schedule on your highly productive times will allow you to accomplish more with less effort.
Avoid the procrastination trap: Know your style. Some people are great “starters” yet have a hard time finishing a project and other people are great” finishers” and have a tougher time starting a new project and kicking it into gear. Some people are both.
Tip-By cutting projects into doable chunks and delegating to others when you see your to-do-list going into overwhelm, these are both effective time management skills. Procrastination is the ultimate productivity killer. Working on your least desirable tasks first and then progressing to tasks you enjoy or are easier for you, helps you nip procrastination before it starts.
Reward yourself: Whenever you reach a goal, be sure to reward yourself-especially your milestone accomplishments. Give yourself a reward especially when working at tasks that are repetitive, stressful, have stringent deadlines, or when tasks have taken a real push.
Tip-Each of us can name small gifts we can give ourselves that nurture us and refuel us. Make a list of activities that you can give yourself as a reward when you finish a project that feeds and refuels you.
Avoid burnout: Burnout occurs when our mind and body can no longer cope with the tasks being demanding of them. Don’t force the impossible to happen; delegate, leave time to relax and renew, give yourself credit for your accomplishments.
Tip-Reviewing and reflecting is one of the best ways to increase self-confidence and increase productivity. Fear of failure slows people down; knowing you can succeed has you operating at your optimal performance level. Slow your life down and appreciate the moment; gratitude gives us an appreciation for all we have.
Good time management starts with knowing yourself, knowing both your long-term and short- term goals, daring to go slow, delegating, working as a team, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and rewarding yourself for a job well done. Share with us on Facebook about what time management tips have worked for you.