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Work Smarter: Become a Time Management Pro

David Law

Sun, 31 Mar, 2019

  • Reading Time:
    ~ 4 minutes

Do you wish you had more time for yourself?


Perhaps your experience looks a bit like this: waking up at dawn, a hasty breakfast, a full day of chasing clients, juggling projects, trying to keep up with your calendar and, always, invariably, falling behind.


When you envision your ideal professional career, chances are, you don’t dream of short hours of sleep, long hours of chaotic work, and a nonexistent personal life. The good thing is— it doesn’t have to be that way.


No matter how many responsibilities you have or how high up on the corporate food chain you are, you can always choose to work smarter. The one skill you need to master is time management.


The one secret to better time management


In order to become more efficient at meeting deadlines, finishing projects, and advancing your career, you’ll have to work hard. That’s a given. But you don’t need to sacrifice your happiness in the process.


The one key to becoming better at time management is simple: prioritise. No one expects you to get everything done in a day and neither should you!


You have to learn to assess your tasks and determine if it, like a ripe fruit, needs attention right now or if it can hang on the tree a little longer.


And, when you fail at prioritising and end up swamped, you need to forgive yourself. Every new skill takes a learning process. What matters is your willingness to bounce back and keep working on it.


8 Simple time management techniques


Anyone can learn and apply time management skills if they give it a fair shot. But where to start?


Here are 8 simple tips and techniques to help you keep your head above the waves.


1. Ruthless prioritisation


You already know you need to prioritise your tasks, projects, and other calendar items in order to recover a work-life balance. But how? A tried-and-true method to use your time wisely is to categorise your priorities clearly.


Start by making a list of the tasks you need to get done. Good? Now, write an H (high), M (medium), or L (low) next to each item. This gives you a clear view of the order and importance of your assignments and lets you tackle them effectively. Make sure you don’t add more than 5 items to your list at any time.


2. Define your boundaries


Lately, everything anyone seems to talk about is boundaries. That’s because they’re crucial to your wellbeing! Saying yes to experiences is important, but knowing what to say no to is indispensable to staying balanced.


This takes self-awareness: only you know what you can take on and when the work becomes too much. Once you know something is a no, stick with your resolution. You have the right and the responsibility to do right by yourself, so be confident when communicating your decision!


3. Cut down on procrastination


Nothing sabotages your time management like procrastination. The worst part— it’s a habit, so it can be hard to break. But you can certainly do it: you just need to make a decision to focus and stick with it. For example, there are free apps (like Forest) that you can use to restrict your screen time to help you concentrate.


4. Use positive reinforcement


You don’t need to cut distractions off entirely— we’d be monsters to suggest that! Instead, take your favourite relaxation or procrastination activities and use them as rewards for milestones completed. Say, you worked on an important task for a full hour without getting sidetracked. Why not celebrate with a 10-minute walk or stretching session? Just make sure to get back to work afterwards.


5. Get unstuck


That feeling of being stuck in a rut is the worst. If this is where you are, stop. You need to unjam the mechanism. Some great ideas:


  • Go for a walk outside without your phone. Enjoy your surroundings.

  • Make a cup of tea or other relaxing beverage.

  • Move. Dancing to an 80’s bop is encouraged.

  • Breathe— there are breathing exercises to calm or energise you, your choice!


6. Keep track of your appointments


Thanks to the overabundance of apps, it might seem silly to say ‘use a calendar’. But you should definitely be keeping track of your tasks and appointments in a physical notebook. The reason: the process of writing something down can help program your brain and you’ll be less likely to forget it.


7. Self-care comes first


You can’t really work if you’ve run yourself into the ground, can you? Taking care of your health and wellbeing is paramount. A good night’s sleep is the highest of all your High Priority items. Hydration and a healthy, nutritious meal are second. If you want to really be doing it right, add a workout three times a week (it can be whatever you find fun!) and journaling or other meditative activity.


8. Plan instead of winging it


A lot of effort can go into your work but, unless you have a plan in place, at least some of it is going to waste. Very often, we invest energy without figuring out the details first. The results usually show there was a much simpler, less involved way of doing it. Learn from our mistakes— think before you start instead of afterwards.


These 8 time management tips will help you become more productive and, at the same time, restore your much-deserved balance. But, no matter how much effort you put into this skill, there’ll be setbacks and unexpected challenges. What’s important: you have the tools to do this. Use these time management techniques to get your life to where you want to be. Start now!


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