What does time management mean to you? Is it managing your time productively so you achieve a specific result? Is it prioritising your time time effectively? Or is it something different? As a time management coach, I help business owners and leaders develop effective time management strategies so they can be more successful in business and life.
I look at time management as the process of clarifying the result you want to achieve, and then managing your time effectively to achieve that result. If you don’t manage time effectively, it’s easy to get distracted and overwhelmed.
Developing effective time management strategies for work and life help you prioritise better, stop multi-tasking, remove distractions and help you plan your time in such a way that you can achieve bigger results in less time, and with less effort.
In this article I’m going to share 7 time management strategies of highly productive people that I use as a time management coach with my clients.
What is time management?
Time management is the process of leveraging time to produce the maximum result in the least amount of time. Good time management strategies help you find the simplest, easiest and cheapest route to achieve the bigger and better result you want.
If you can’t manage your time effectively, it’s easy to feel trapped, stuck and experience a lack of time. Effective time management creates a feeling of time abundance, where you know exactly how to spend your time for maximum effectiveness and results.
Read more about the benefits of time management.
How to manage time effectively
The better you are at prioritising, maintaining focus and managing your time, the easier it will become to achieve bigger results in less time. Effective time management skills allow you to get bigger results at work without the stress. Effective time management also helps you get more of your time back to spend with the people that matter at home.
Time management can be a difficult thing to take control of. Good time management strategies help you achieve bigger results in less time. Bad time management can leave you feeling burned out, overloaded and overwhelmed.
Managing time well is simply about removing the distractions and stuff that takes up time and doesn’t move you forward. Good time management is about prioritising your time to focus on high value, productive work that makes a real impact.
The simplest time management strategies are always about asking yourself “Does the activity I want to do make the best use of my time?” The strategies I’m about to share will help you get the right things done in less time. Learn more about time management skills.
Time management strategies to be more productive
Here are 7 time management strategies that will help you do more in less time.
1. Focus on high value activities
The advantage of good time management is you start the day with a clear focus. To manage time effectively, identify and focus on the small number of activities you do that create the biggest outcome.
In a typical day you may be trying to balance the real work that brings you joy and achieves big results with the need to manage day to day activities such as meetings, messages, emails, social media updates and to-do lists.
Set a clear focus for your day by identifying your most important work. Then, look at ways you can leverage your time most effectively to produce the biggest results. Surround yourself with other people to help you achieve that result, or take some of the day to day work away from you.
2. Focus on your most important activity first
Doing the most important thing first is key to effective time management. Start your day by asking yourself: “What’s the number one thing I absolutely have to achieve today?”
Once you are clear on that, and you commit to achieving that thing, start working on it until complete. This simple time management strategy of focusing on your most important activities will save you hours of wasted time and force you to identify your biggest priorities.
This time management skill will stop the disorder, distractions and chaos from impacting on your day. The reason? You have made a conscious decision at the start of the day, when your willpower is strong.
Whatever, your most important task is, if you do that thing first, then you’ll never have a day when you didn’t get something important done.
By following this simple time management strategy, you will always achieve a productive day.
3. Prioritise your time
How you start your day is critical to managing your time and having a successful day. You have two choices: you can create your day or you can spend your day reacting.
Managing your time well starts with getting clear on your three most important tasks and then focusing only on them until complete. When you manage time in this way you banish frustration, distraction and overwhelm.
If you start your day reacting to emails and social notifications you will be playing catch up. Good time management is always about getting clarity on your biggest priorities and bringing an intentional focus to those activities.
Having a clear focus for the day can save you hours of time wasted through multi-tasking, unimportant meetings and taking on tasks and projects that don’t move you closer to the goals and outcomes you want. Managing time means you’re in control of your time, rather than someone else.
4. Reduce the workload
You can only complete a small number of big projects or tasks in a day. If you have 10-15 items on your to-do list, chances are you won’t be able to complete them all. I recommend identifying and working on only three of your most important tasks each day.
When you are clear on your biggest priorities, the outcome you want to deliver and the action plan to achieve it then you must decide how important it is and when you deliver it by.
5. Stop procrastinating
Procrastination is a massive time thief. If there are things you know you should do, but you can’t get motivated then you will start procrastinating. Procrastination happens when we have a big goal but we don’t have the capability to achieve that goal so we procrastinate on taking action.
Procrastination also happens when we’re just not very excited about doing a specific task or project so we find anything else to spend our time doing apart from the project. We also tend to procrastinate when we have a long time to do something in and we waste time until the last minute when we realise the deadline is just around the corner.
Stop procrastinating and you will free up more time. Read more about overcoming procrastination.
6. Focus on progress not perfection
Perfectionism, like procrastination, wastes lots of valuable time. Procrastination is often about the inability to take action, but perfectionists have taken action but they are not happy with the outcome because, in their eyes, it is not perfect.
Perfectionists spend their time tweaking and amending and shining and trying to make the thing they’ve created perfect. The thing is, perfect doesn’t exist so many great projects and ideas never see the light of day because they’re not perfect.
To manage your time, focus on progress not perfection. Do the best you can with the project and either put it out there or get help from other experts to finish off the project.
7. Review your day
To be able to manage your time effectively, it’s important to acknowledge what’s working and to celebrate your accomplishments. Take 10-15 minutes at the end of each day and write down the three things that went well or you achieved that day.
Then take five minutes and write down the three things you want to accomplish the next day. This will ensure you don’t waste time on unimportant projects and are focused on your most important tasks. Finishing the day feeling confident builds momentum and creates high levels of motivation.
Put these essential time management skills into action and you will feel less stress and overwhelm. You’ll feel more empowered and in control of your time, which will help you achieve bigger and better results in the future.
Now I’d love to hear from you.
Which time management strategy will you take action on?
Have I missed a time management strategy that has worked well for you?
Either way, let me know in the comments.
About the Author
Mark Pettit is a time management coach to business owners who want to simplify their time, energy and focus so they can multiply their freedom, impact and results.
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