7 Tips for Effective Time Management
Not a day goes by when those of us in fast paced, highly charged careers don’t wish we had an extra two, five, or even ten hours in the day to get everything done. That holds true whether you’re just starting your career, if you’re a seasoned exec, or a working parent pining for work-life balance. We’re tethered to our emails, chained to our desks, and bound by responsibilities that never seem to end. Unfortunately, (barring some inexplicable episode of time travel), cramming more hours in the day just isn’t going to happen. But with these time management tips you may find time to not only you’re your goals but come up for air once in a while.
- Get SMART about your goals
Set out exactly what you want to achieve because if you don’t know where you’re going you won’t know how to get there. To give goals clarity and purpose, use the SMART method to make sure they’re specific enough to be tangible, meaningful to give them purpose, achievable to manage expectations, relevant to what you want to accomplish, and time based so you don’t lose sight of them.
- Take stock of how you spend your time now
You can’t fix what’s broken if you don’t know how it’s broken. Spend a week keeping track of everything you do and how long it takes by dividing tasks into a few manageable categories be that work, health, or family or all of the above.
- Call on the quadrant system
Next, employ the tried and trusted quadrant system. Take all the data you pulled during your audit week and divide all your tasks into four quadrants: Important, urgent, both, not important. You’ll want to focus most of your time on things that are important but not urgent and little to none of your time on things that are not important. You’ll be surprised how out of balance most of us are when it comes to this.
- Harness on the Pareto Principle
You may know this as the 80/20 rule, which states that for most things in life, 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes. In practical terms that means that only 20% of the tasks you’re completing right now are causing 80% of your success or accomplishments. How do you make that work for you? Focus more of your time on the tasks that matter.
- Nix the time sucks
Nix all the habits that drain your time like constantly checking every Facebook notification or keeping email on in the background as a constant hum of distraction. Instead, schedule time for email checks and use regularly planned breaks to recharge and get some personal time in, even if that means scrolling through Instagram.
- Save your mornings for bigger tasks
Mornings are usually when people have the most energy and drive (provided they have had at least one cup of coffee). Getting your biggest, most important tasks out of the way before you get bogged down will give you momentum to tackle the rest of the day’s tasks.
- Make to-do lists at night
Take 10 minutes every night to set your top priorities for the day the day ahead. Make sure your morning starts with your biggest, most important tasks then tackle the smaller but urgent ones. Make sure you pen in any fixed events or meetings as well and make allowances for any pop-up tasks that inevitably come up throughout the day.