Good time management is about managing your time, energy and focus to produce a bigger result in less time. There are a number of effective time management techniques you can use to become more productive and better manage your time.
Effective time management depends on your ability to manage your time well. If you can take control of your time you will be more productive, produce bigger results and achieve your goals quicker.
The best time management techniques help you set better goals, prioritise your time, track your time, overcome procrastination, plan more effectively and eliminate distractions.
Time management is the great simplifier on how you plan and manage your time each day. Good time management helps you get more done in less time, while bad time management creates an endless cycle of busyness, distractions and filling up time with tasks and more stuff.
One of the things I’ve noticed about busy work is that it doesn’t make you more productive or creative. In fact, it creates more complication and complexity. Dealing with emails, going to numerous meetings, multi-tasking and working on low value activities is often not the best use of your time.
This article shares 6 essential time management techniques of productive people that will help you boost productivity and manage your time more effectively. Read more about the benefits of time management.
6 essential time management techniques
Here are 6 important time management techniques.
1. Track your time
The best time management technique to get started with is to track your time.
If you want to manage time better, it’s important to understand how you are spending your time right now. You can’t change how you manage your time until you have clarity on how you invest your time and understand what’s working and what’s not working.
Tracking your time gives you a big picture view of where your time goes. Taking a time audit helps you understand if you are prioritising your time on the right activities versus the time you are investing.
Tracking your time will help you understand if your are using your time productively or not, and give you simple time management strategies to make better use of your time in the future.
Time management expert Laura Vanderkam works with people to create their own time log to track their time and is a great resource to get started with.
2. Start time blocking
Time blocking is the time management technique of focused work on a specific project or task for a fixed period of time. Time blocking will help you prioritise, organise and schedule your time for maximum effectiveness.
Many people use time blocking to schedule out time for every task or responsibility they have each day in a colour coded calendar. Others use time blocking to get an important project done without being interrupted.
I personally prefer the time blocking technique of working in 45 minute blocks of time with 15 minute breaks in between to stay focused and on task.
Time blocking gives you additional accountability to do the thing you’ve scheduled to do and will also give you a better understanding of how long things take to complete.
The author of Deep Work, Cal Newport is a big advocate of time blocking and has spent time analysing how it helps people become more productive.
3. Manage distractions
You can’t manage your time effectively and get your most important work done if you are constantly being distracted. Distractions can seem impossible to avoid but, rather than ignoring the distractions, identify the distractions and come up with a strategy for overcoming them.
The key to effective time management is to manage, reduce and eliminate distractions. With so many distractions competing for our attention, it’s essential to maintain your attention and focus on your most important work.
Strategies you can use to overcome distractions include:
- Turn off distractions
- Work in a quiet space
- Clear physical clutter
- Do a brain dump
- Simplify your to-do list
- Take more breaks
- Stop multi-tasking
- Get better sleep
4. Prioritise your time
Time management is often about energy management. We all have the same 24 hours in a day so prioritising our time is the key to good time management. The best way to prioritise your time is to get clear on your most important tasks, and then identify your biggest priority.
Having a long to-do list won’t make you productive or enable you to manage your time effectively. Prioritise time by identifying the three most important things you want to achieve each day, then start working on your most important activity. Read more about prioritising your time.
5. Manage your energy
You can’t manage your time effectively if you have no energy and you feel exhausted or feel tired all the time. To work smarter, not harder manage your day by maximising and harnessing your energy.
There are two keys to energy management: 1. Get clear on the things that lower your energy; 2. Get clear on the times of the day and activities where you have high energy levels.
We only have a certain amount of energy available to us each day so it’s essential to harness our energy to do our most important and productive work.
Now, it’s easy to see some of the things that lower your energy. Things that lower energy include: lack of sleep, lack of exercise, unhealthy diet, working long hours, increased workload, multi-tasking and activities that bore you.
Once you’ve identified activities that lower your energy, investigate strategies to create improvements. These may include getting more sleep, getting more exercise and improving your diet. Anything to improve physical recovery and performance.
The second part of managing your energy is identifying activities and time of the day when you’re operating at peak performance. Many people have high energy levels in the morning so take on their most important work. Another strategy is to focus on the activities that excite and motivate you first thing in the morning.
When you’re excited your energy levels are high. Identify when you feel most energised and tackle your biggest projects then.
6. Plan your day the night before
The first hour of the day is one of the most important. It sets the tone for how productive your day will be. If you want to take control of your time and be more productive it’s essential to plan your day the night before. When you plan your day the night before, plan out the following day in detail and identify your most important activities that you want to tackle first.
This simple time management technique can save you hours of time and will ensure you start the day focused and knowing exactly what you want to do. Read more about this in my article about creating an evening routine.
Now I’d love to hear from you.
Which time management technique works best for you?
How do you manage time effectively?
Let me know in the comments.
About the Author
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