Do you want to learn how to better manage your time?
Are you looking for a few different ways to manage your schedule and tasks?
It pays to refresh or update tried-and-true time management techniques every so often.
Techniques that may have worked well for you in past, may not be as effective or as efficient in the present.
Besides, it’s always interesting to view your tasks and responsibilities through a new lens and learn something new!
In this post, I offer a collection of seven time management techniques for you to try out at home, work, and school.
Feel free to use these time management techniques on their own, or mix and match several at once.
Track your time.
How much time do you spend checking email each day? How long does it take you to get dressed and eat breakfast in the morning? How much time do you spend on Pinterest or Facebook every afternoon?
If you have no reference point when it comes to these and other tasks, you’ll definitely want to track your time for a day. You’ll be able to get some solid data about where your time is going, and exactly how your time is being spent
To track your time, you can make hourly notes in a notebook or use any time-tracking software available on the market today. If you want a handy printable time tracker, you can download one of my time tracking sheets from my free resource library.
Make a notation as to which tasks you performed during the day, and for how long. You may be quite surprised by your results!
Just say “No.”
Believe it or not, your schedule is an extremely valuable item. It’s how you’ve decided to spend your time, and ultimately, how you’ll live your life.
As such, it’s important for you to do what you must to protect it. Don’t be afraid to se the word “No,” throughout your daily routines.
Don’t have time this week to meet a friend for drinks after work? Say “No, thank you,” and schedule something on the weekend instead.
Can’t squeeze in that extra, voluntary project at work? Let others know you’ve got a full workload and are currently unavailable.
Don’t have the hours to spare this weekend when it comes to washing cars for a fundraiser? Say, “No, I’m busy then, but I’d be happy to help to organize the holiday benefit gala.”
Add time buffers to your day.
Does it seem as if you have no time between meetings to catch your breath, or that you’re always rushing from appointment to appointments If so, you may want to consider adding time buffers to your day.
You can think of time buffers as extra bits of time of time during your day. These bits of time give you just enough wiggle-room to deal with unexpected news, traffic delays, late deliveries, and all those other issues that tend to pop up during the day.
Try adding in two fifteen-minute time buffers to an upcoming appointment; add one buffer before, and after, your engagement. You might also schedule in travel time buffers to your schedule as well. Once you implement the magic of time buffers in your schedule, you may never go back!
Sit on something.
Do you think time management is about furiously working at break-neck speeds? Actually, time management includes being patient and waiting for things to happen.
Perhaps you don’t have yet enough information yet to make a decision on an important item. Maybe you’re waiting to hear back from a friend or relative, or maybe it just doesn’t feel “right” to take action.
If this is the case for you, slow things down. Take your time to sit on an idea, decision, thought, or course of action. It will be time soon enough for you to make your next move.
Try some time boxing.
Don’t worry, this technique doesn’t require you to don boxing gloves, jump in the ring, and throw a few jabs at Father Time.
Time boxing is quite simple, really. All you have to do is set aside a period of time work on a particular task…and then do it!
Time boxing can be quite helpful if you have difficulty preparing, or setting a schedule for yourself.
Here’s a three-step method to get you started with time boxing:
- Jot down three brief tasks to complete. Each should take less than fifteen minutes to finish.
- Pull out your calendar for the day, find an empty hour, and schedule in those three tasks in fifteen minute increments.
- When the appointed hour rolls around, roll up your sleeves and get to work!
Set a timer.
Do you find you work better when you have a set deadline? If so, you may find it helpful to set mini-deadlines for yourself during the day.
You can do this by setting a timer on your computer, watch, or cell phone for a brief period of time. The period of time can be fifteen, thirty, sixty, or any other time increment you so desire.
Choose a task to complete, and get to work. When the timer goes off, stop what you’re doing. Easy peasy!
OK, this isn’t the most sexy of tips, but there is great benefit when it comes to starting your work early. You’ll be able to complete your work in a relaxed, and comfortable pace.
The next time you find yourself working on something that has a deadline, start working on it that very same day. You’ll find it much easier to start now, than if you waited until weeks later, or worse, the night before the item is due.
Remember, you don’t have to take a huge step, a small task counts, too. The most important thing is that you create momentum for your project. The sooner you start, the better off you’ll be.
How about you? Which of these time management techniques interests you most? Why? Which technique(s) are you going to try out next? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!
A version of this post appeared on the blog in 2015.