If you hope to be productive while studying or working, time management skills are essential. They will allow you to spend your time in the most efficient way possible and maximize results. The more efficient you are, the quicker you can complete your task and enjoy some leisure time. Here are 12 time management tips that actually work.
Establish goals and prioritize them
The first step in managing your time is to establish and prioritize your goals. There are a number of ways to brainstorm all of the goals you wish to accomplish, but a simple list will do the job. Place the items into categories if it helps you simply things.
You might find it useful to have separate documents for short term goals and long term goals. Things that are simple like “taking out the garbage” can go into the short term list and more complex tasks like “sell my house” can go in the long term list. The items in the long term list will usually need to be broken up into small chunks.
Once you have established all of the goals you would like to achieve, prioritize them. Place items that need to be done very soon at the top of the list. That may include things like “paying utilities bills”. It is often helpful to prioritize things that you don’t like doing, so you get them out of the way early on. Look at your longer term goals and identify the smaller goals inside each one. Prioritize those on your list as well.
Now you know what your goals are and which ones are most important. Attach deadlines to the most important goals. Some people attach multiple deadlines to a goal – the date it must be done by and the date they are intending on doing it. Gather all of the items with closest deadlines together to form your immediate to-do list.
Always schedule for the next day
Use the to-do list you just created to make a schedule for the next day. Try to be as realistic as possible when it comes to planning the schedule and include breaks throughout the day.
Technology can be very useful for making schedules. You can use scheduling software that allows you to share the information on your computer, phone and tablet. Most scheduling software will also let you set reminders for various tasks. Leave some wiggle room in your schedule for tasks that go over time.
Make the most of the gaps you have included in your schedule by moving around during them. If you have been on the computer studying for the last hour, the worst thing you can do is use your break to browse the Internet. Walk around, stretch, do pushups or some other form of exercise. By exercising, you will be increasing blood flow to your brain and the level of endorphin hormones in your body. You will also be avoiding some of the negative health impacts associated with prolonged sitting. Moving around during breaks will increase your productivity during the next task.
Share your schedule with others
If you have created a schedule using a software program, share it with others so they know what you are doing. If your wife, children and friends know that you are working or studying at a particular time, you are less likely to be interrupted.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique breaks down work into short intervals, followed by a short break. Typically that will consist of a 25 minute work period and a 5 minute break. The technique is very useful for work that involves a lot of mental activity. A timer is used to measure the work/break balance.
Some people find that it can increase their mental focus and help them study more efficiently over long periods. There are also Pomodoro apps available for most smart phones, which allow you to keep track of how many Pomodoros you have done.
Discover the most productive part of your day
Some people are more productive early in the day, while others excel late at night. Try getting up early for a week to see if it helps you get more work done. Once you determine when you are most productive, build your schedule around it. Place the more difficult tasks you face in the time slots where you are most alert and focused.
Focus on focus
Research has demonstrated that multitasking is not the most efficient way to get things done (Lapowsky, 2014). You should remove distractions and focus on a single task with great intensity. You will get the job done faster and to a higher standard. This is a crucial time management skill for academic work or studying.
Delegate where possible
It is important to understand that some tasks are a shared responsibility and can be delegated. If your schedule includes things that need to be done around the house, delegate them to your children or partner when possible. Don’t let items that should be delegated get in the way of crucial work that only you can do.
There will always be interruptions to your schedule. Give your schedule some flexibility, so you can allow for the unexpected. Be generous with breaks in your schedule so you are refreshed and able to make the most of your work time.
Music is a fantastic way to increase your work efficiency and make the most of your time. Studies have demonstrated that certain types of music can help your cognition. The key is to find familiar music that does not contain lyrics. Many students report that baroque classical music is useful, because it is not distracting and helps with focus. Some movie soundtracks may also help you focus. One study even found that ambient noise could help people focus on a task.
Turn off your devices
Turning off your phone and other electronic devices can help you focus and make the most of your time. There are phone applications which can work with your schedule software and make you unavailable while performing a certain task.
It may be useful to block other distractions like social media and specific websites while you are working. There are software applications to help you block these kinds of distractions.
By following these simple time management techniques, you will more easily reach your goals. It is important to remember that you will occasionally have less productive days. If you have one, brush it off and get back on track the next day. Excellent time management skills will give you the best chance at success in life.