Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m not the best person in the world at time management. In fact, I’m one of the worst. I have a habit of leaving tasks until just before the deadline, then agonising over some insignificant detail just long enough to push it into being late. I’m trying to change, really, I am. The thing is, so many time management strategies are just too inconvenient for me. I need simple steps, not big changes (ain’t nobody got time for that). Here are five easy ways to improve your own time management. I promise you they actually work.
Make a list
This is one I actually do; without it, I’d be useless. Make a list of everything you need to get done today. Now, assign a time-limit to each. That way, if you’ve only got 10 minutes before a meeting, you won’t attempt to start a 30 minute job, but you can squeeze in a couple of those 5 minutes tasks. If you know roughly how long each job should take, you can organise your day more efficiently.
Close that Twitter tab, put your phone on silent and switch off the telly. It’s all too easy to let distractions take over your day and before you know it, it’s 5.30pm. If you’re not sure, keep a time diary for a couple of days and write down how long you spend on social media, watching TV or procrastinating with housework. I bet you’re surprised by how much time you waste. If you really can’t stay away from Facebook, download an app like Cold Turkey to block those distracting sites while you get your work done.
Get a clock
It’s simple, if you can’t see the time, it’s all too easy to lose track of it. Get yourself a clock with a nice big display and put it somewhere prominent. If you can’t do that, add a clock widget to your computer desktop. If you’ve set a specific time to complete a task, set a timer to let you know when time’s up. I find I’m far more productive when I’m against the clock! If you don’t have an actual egg timer to set, try this online version.
Eat the frog!
In his brilliant book on time management, Brian Tracy suggests doing the task you least want to do first. Basically, if you eat a frog first thing in the morning, then it’s definitely the worst thing you’ll do all day! Think of all those things you don’t want to do, but need to. That’s what you should do first. It feels great to get them done instead of constantly putting them off.
Clear your inbox.
Most of us spend hours reading, replying and generally dealing with emails. A tidy inbox will make your life easy, so clean it up. Start by unsubscribing from any updates and marketing emails you don’t actually read. Disable email notifications for social media, there’s no point in ignoring Facebook if your inbox keeps reminding you it’s there! You’ll still get them on your phone, don’t panic. Delete – or, if you can’t bear to, archive – emails you don’t need. Set time aside every day to keep on top of it and reply to anything that needs your attention. Use flags or stars to help you prioritise the important stuff and be ruthless with the rest.
What are you waiting for? Go, and become more efficient.
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