Isn’t it ironic when people feel they don’t have the time to learn new time management skills? It’s a lot like not hiring a financial advisor now because of the cost only to wind up spending more money due to mismanagement in the long run. No matter how busy you are, take the time to look at these 7 best time management skills. Consider it a small investment towards a better-balanced life that you’ll thank yourself for later.
What is Time Management?
Time management is the science of working smarter, not harder. It’s about organizing and planning to ensure tasks are completed. Life is full of needs and wants all vying for your attention, and the best time management skills allow you to take a step back, evaluate which are the most important, and meet the demands of all of them in the most efficient way possible.
Time management becomes art when creativity and imagination are applied. When you have so much going on in your life, like kids, a spouse, work, dogs, parent-teacher conferences, coronavirus – it often requires some creative solutions to balance it all successfully, and the imagination to come up with it all on the fly if need be. Your friends at Become Organized know all too well how overwhelming things can get, especially in the cramped environments of New York City and New Jersey. Here are 7 skills they’ve shared that will help you better manage your time and keep control in this urban jungle.
1. Early To Bed, Early To Rise
New York is known as the city that never sleeps, but getting the most out of every day requires both an early start and plenty of rest. Americans as a whole have a reputation for putting long hours into their work weeks, but, according to the Sleep Foundation, more than ⅓ receives less than the minimum recommended amount of sleep per night – 7 hours for healthy adults. Nearly half report feeling sleepy during the day between three and seven days a week, also. The effects of sleep deprivation on your productivity and time management are analogous to driving while intoxicated – your mind isn’t going to function as well as it could. Sleep experts say you should be aiming for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, but don’t sacrifice precious daylight hours by sleeping in – just set a decent time to be finished with all of your tasks and hit the sack earlier.
On a related note, exercise has a positive impact on your sleep and maximizes its invigorating effect. It does this in direct and indirect ways. Directly, some good exercise during the day will make it easier to fall asleep at night, reducing what’s known as sleep onset, and lowering the unproductive time spent lying in bed awake. It also helps to make you less tired during the day. Indirectly, vigorous exercise helps to reduce weight gain, which has serious consequences on your sleep. More than 60% of sleep apnea cases in adults are a result of too much weight, and the struggle to breathe at night will throw off the proper sleep rhythms needed to get the most out of a good night’s rest. Proper exercise also reduces your risks of diseases, which will stave off what’s known as “the big sleep” – and that, of course, will throw a monkey wrench into anyone’s productivity.
2. Prioritize Your Tasks
All of your daily tasks and goals have a deadline, of course, but some of these can be chipped away at incrementally while others require your immediate attention. That’s why the best time management skills are only effective when first establishing a hierarchy of your things to do. There are two important factors to consider when establishing this: urgency and length of time particular tasks take to do.
By urgency, consider what needs to be done to eliminate a crisis from ensuing, first. These may be work or family-related and should come before all else. But some of these could take longer to do, and that’s when establishing if they can be done incrementally becomes vital. Moving out of an old apartment into a new one can especially become a time-sensitive priority when it has to be completed by a certain day, so maybe it would be wise to try and break it into pieces by beginning to transport what you can throughout the week before the moving date, saving you some precious hours ahead of time in case another urgency arises between then.
3. Use Calendars And Organization Apps
One of the biggest mistakes people often make when it comes to good time management is not writing out their plans and strategies. Winging it like this will certainly lead to trouble eventually, and you’ll never get the best results possible, either. Writing out a schedule is the best tool for time management because it lets you evaluate your strategy for accomplishing goals as things change – and they will – and ensures that you’re working smarter, not harder.
In today’s age, there is no reason not to be taking advantage of all of the technology and apps available that help with organization. E-mail services have built-in calendars to alert you of approaching due dates and meetings, and some apps and other platforms provide all kinds of detailed analytics and workflow tools to make sure you are being as efficient as possible. Human beings are prone to mistakes and mix-ups, and even the best time management skills will benefit greatly from a little help with writing information down.
4. Will Power – The Only Defense Against Procrastination
A little help from technology only goes so far, and it’s your willpower that will ultimately get things done. Procrastination is a bad habit that needs to be pulled up by its roots if you’re ever going to master time management. It’s a bummer, we know, but experience tells you that even a little distraction will quickly add up to a lot and ruin the day’s productivity. You need a plan and the dedication to stick to it. This is another reason why writing things down can help, that way you have a hard piece of motivation to look at to dig deep and find the willpower to put down your phone or say “no” to a night out until the job is done.
Overcoming bad habits takes training similar to physical exercise, but with the mind. Constant mental repetition will help make your willpower stronger. The first exercise to do is realize when you are procrastinating – guilt can be a positive tool in this case for change and to help you snap out of it. A sense of dread or feeling overwhelmed also makes people procrastinate, so help motivate yourself by remembering how much better it feels when you accomplish your goals. This reinforces in your mind the reward association aspect of finishing your to-do list.
There’s also nothing wrong with taking breaks every once in a while. Breaking up the time spent on a task can help you focus better, and give you time to evaluate what you’re doing. Just set limits and don’t let your break turn into procrastination.
Poor communication leads to an incredible amount of wasted time, so good communicating skills are very important to successful time management. Whether your goals involve work, the family, or just personal change, they need to be communicated in a way that eliminates confusion or uncertainty. You and everyone around you that is involved in accomplishing goals need to be certain about their role, responsibilities, and value in it.
Good communication lets others know if they are performing well or not on a given task. You are most likely to get things done on time and proficiently if you know you are on the right track, and so are the people involved. Constructively evaluate yourself and others to make sure the best time management skills are being used effectively.
Developing a good communication strategy will help out in every aspect of time management, with organization, morale, and end results. Start with an action plan that first assesses your needs (and your team’s, if applicable), and understands the desired outcomes you hope to achieve. Good communication also involves listening, so build your time management strategies around what others communicate to you as likely or realistic. And, learn when to say no. People with good time management skills often want to help others, but you should always be wary of biting off more than you can chew. Your outcomes in everything in life stand a better chance for success when you have the proper time to focus on them.
To delegate is to give the authority to carry out tasks to someone else – or something, like letting an app handle your schedule. When it’s possible to do this, it can greatly relieve stress on yourself and help get things done quicker. The chances are that you don’t have to do everything yourself.
Effective delegation goes back to prioritizing time management, as well. You need to weigh the value of goals and how much of an investment in time should be relegated to them – look at the big picture of what needs to be done. Home and childcare are easy examples to draw from if more than one person is living in a household. Chores can be shared and depending on parents’ schedules only one might need to attend a parent-teacher conference.
Delegating relies heavily on good communication, so be sure to listen to the people around you to be able to evaluate who is good at doing what. Then, make sure what you need to be done is related to them unambiguously – tasks not completed correctly the first time only lead to valuable time wasted. Letting go is scary to people who do a lot of micro-managing in their lives, but constant monitoring can truly be a waste of productivity. Through delegation, you can achieve a much more fulfilling work-life balance.
7. Constantly Evaluate Your Time Management Strategy
Life changes rapidly and so do your goals. One strategy isn’t effective for everything, so one of the best time management skills to acquire is being able to evaluate for efficiency and results. Begin by asking what, when, and why to your stated goals, and then compare them to the answers to the same questions of your past accomplishments. What specific time management strategy did you use to get them done? What were its strengths in that case? What were its weaknesses? Now you can evaluate a new strategy for a new goal.
And always evaluate what level of quality a task needs to be when finished. Not everything needs to be perfect, especially if it is only a minor step towards reaching a bigger goal. Planning weddings is a notorious example of unnecessary nitpicking where too much focus on minor details leads to avoidable stress.
Become Organized is a company passionate about helping people unlock their full potential. With their help, clients in Manhattan and surrounding areas have learned to incorporate the best organizational and time management skills to better engage with today’s busy world and take control of their lives. Their team of experts has decades of professional experience assisting people from all backgrounds. With services ranging from consultation to hands-on home organization, they provide personalized planning to give you perspective above the din and challenges of living in one of the busiest metropolitan areas in the world. Become the best you can be, and let us help you do it at BecomeOrganized.com.