Effective Time Management Methods To Help You Squeeze Extra Hours Into Your Day
Time management methods vary in nature and scope, but many are really effective and will gain you extra hours, beat frustration and remove stress. These 4 simple methods will get you started along the rewarding path to better time management.
Keep Time Logs
You cannot manage what you cannot measure. So all time management methods begin with taking stock of how your day is being spent right now. A time log can help you assess your current style of managing time, and give you precious insights into what activities and distractions take up most of your working day.
There are several ways to keep a time log. You could use software or time management tools, or rely on making a simple list on a sheet of paper. Just remember to jot down all your daily activities and the time you started and finished each. At the end of the day, you’ll know how long each task took to complete.
Classify Your Activities
Knowing where your time was spent, you must now evaluate the relative importance of each task. Were you engaged in fire-fighting, handling urgent tasks regardless of how much they matter to your long-term goals? Or are you more centered and oriented to your priorities, devoting most of your time to the important tasks that take you closer to your targets?
Most activities can be grouped under one of these 4 heads:
urgent, but not important
urgent and important
important, but not urgent
neither important nor urgent
If you’re spending too much of your time on the last option, clearly something must change.
Draw Up Your Schedule
Knowing where you are spending most of your time, and how effective that allocation is in the bigger scheme of things, you have the substrate of effective time management methods. All that remains is to draw up a schedule to follow.
Your schedule can be done on a daily or weekly basis. What goes on your schedule is the important work that is aligned with your biggest goals. The various tasks are assigned a priority depending on how important they are, and then given a specific time slot by which each should be finished.
Reviewing and revising your schedule on a periodic basis through the day can help keep you on track and get things done.
Simple Time Management Methods
There are several easy to follow methods that will help you towards better time management.
1. You have 168 hours in a week. You can use them wisely and well – or not.
2. Scheduling and sticking to your routine is a matter of discipline and focus.
3. There will be exceptions and distractions. Factor them into your schedule.
4. Keep your schedule handy for reference. Try to adhere strictly to it.
5. Take time to relax and refresh yourself, for higher efficiency.
6. Delegate tasks and activities to others, and free your own time for other things.
7. Stay motivated by keeping your mind fixed on long term goals and targets.
8. Break bigger projects into multiple small tasks – and get them done.
9. Be conservative in estimating time assigned to each project, to avoid stress and frustration when you run short.
We each have skills in time management. They help us get through life. Otherwise, we’d all be helplessly confused, behind schedule and unable to accomplish even the simplest tasks.
But if you’re struggling to handle your to-do list and comfortably finish your daily tasks, then there are some skills in time management that you have probably not acquired yet. Here are 2 such highly desirable methods that can transform your efficiency.
1. Break down big tasks into manageable bite-sized pieces
Procrastination is your biggest enemy when it comes to managing time. One of the reasons to put something off for later is the fear that it is too tough, complex or extensive to complete within a certain time frame.
The best way to overcome this hurdle is to break down any task into multiple smaller ones. Instead of thinking about writing a book, look at it as writing a series of 20 articles, one every day. That way, you can manage to get an article done in 30 to 60 minutes daily – and by repeating this regularly over 3 weeks, you’ll have a finished book.
In any major task, there are multiple pieces in the puzzle that each require a certain amount of work, time and expense. If you thought about all of them at once, you’d become overwhelmed – and put off getting started. So take out a sheet of paper and list the individual tasks that need to be addressed. Then, start working through them one by one – and before you even realize it, the complex task will be fully finished! This is one of the highly desirable skills in time management. There’s another one too.
2. Monitor yourself – don’t look for outside supervision
The hardest part of time management for self-employed entrepreneurs and people who work unsupervised by a boss is to monitor themselves.
When you’re at work, your time is accountable. You must answer to your boss, colleagues, co-workers. If you goof off, someone will pull you up – very likely give you an earful.
But as your own boss, you’ll often find it harder to stay focused and maximize efficiency – by not wasting time. If you learn to manage your time on your own, without needing external influence to keep you on target, you have overcome a major obstacle on the path to success. That’s one of the other skills in time management.
There are many other tips to manage your time on this site. Take a look around, and even explore the set of Ming Vase Time Management guides which go deeper into specific aspects of developing skills in time management. You will learn more about the Time Management Tao system that is based upon learning how to
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How To Save Time In The Distracting Online World of Social Media Networking, Email & YouTube – Without Pulling The Internet’s Plug!
With these 7 time-tested approaches and simple tweaks to online time management, you will chart your smooth course through the turbulent waters of Web based social networking – and create a lasting impact on Twitter, Facebook, Gmail and more… in just 10 minutes every day.
Time Management Challenges Even Hercules Didn’t Face!
Greek mythology tells us how Hercules performed twelve labors for King Eurystheus of Tiryns. It took him 12 long years to do exotic and exciting things like kill the Nemean lion, clean the Augean stables, and bring back the Golden Apples of the Hesperides.
That was the stuff of ancient heroes and legends. Today, you and I handle similar challenges every time we log on to the Internet!
Online time management is a real struggle for everyday folks. The Web has become ubiquitous – and now it has gone mobile, chasing after us on our cell phones, iPads, and other mobile computing devices.
But it doesn’t come with extra hours to indulge in these distractions – which is what fuels our growing frustration and stress levels as we try to squeeze our growing task list into a shrinking work day, made even shorter by diverse online distractions.
Then, Email – Now, Social Media
15 years ago, most of my time online went to managing email. With a thriving Web business and dozens of websites, my email inbox was constantly full, and I kept checking it every hour (or more often) – and relied on personal time management software to streamline my work.
Today, even though I’ve disciplined myself to limit email to 15 minute segments twice daily, the time saved can be easily gobbled up by the enticement of engaging on social networks.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube are but 5 of the behemoths in this space – and if I linked out to each of them from here, you’d probably never finish reading this report! You’ll need skills in online time management and motivation of a high order to control your impulse to click away – and never come back.
This isn’t all you have to battle. There are hundreds of other niche networks on which you can easily spend the greater part of your waking hours, while your efficiency goes down the drain!
So how to take back your time?
What is online time management?
And what is the trick to getting things done, without having to unplug the Internet?
7 Helpful Tips To Better Online Time Management
These easy, quick-to-implement ideas will help maximize the value of your online networking.
1. Focus on One Platform at a Time
Having Gmail, Twitter and Facebook open in different windows of your Web browser is a surefire way to throw an hour or two away. Set your timer for the duration you are able to focus on social media, and devote it to one platform at a time.
Maybe it will be Facebook. Log on. Check your Wall for posts. Share, Like or Post a message for your network. Answer your private messages. Check on the Groups you are on. And, when the time you’ve assigned yourself is over, close the browser window and return to other work.
This sequence will be effective with any of the social networks you are active on.
2. Really Engage With Your Network
The biggest advantages to working online are:
unlimited research potential
collaboration and networking
At your fingertips lies a vast plethora of information, all of it accessible at the click of a mouse button. That’s one of the most compelling reasons to use the Internet for your work, no matter what field you’re in.
The other benefit is its global reach, which lets you partner and collaborate with people anywhere in the world… without even leaving your seat! Intensely and intimately engaging with your audience online is an excellent use of your time. By dedicating most of your effort to doing this well, you will maximize your investment.
3. Realize Your Limitations
Accept that you won’t ever read everything that’s on the Web. It’s like a gushing fire-hose of information. Trying to drink your fill from it will leave you gasping for breath – and desperately short of time.
Carefully choosing the bits that you want to consume, and that can be fit into the limited time at your disposal, lies at the heart of intelligent online time management.
4. Organize Yourself Well
Each online network or service has its unique features, style and culture. Use each one intelligently by adopting these characteristics in a way that brings you the highest value – without wasting your time.
This may mean using a tool like Tweet Deck for optimizing Twitter. Or installing a mobile app for Facebook. Or downloading your email to an offline client.
A few quick minutes devoted to organizing yourself better can save you many valuable hours over time.
5. Use Your Discretion
Pick and choose the people and activities that you’ll engage with online. Some people are extremely noisy, chatty, or even funny. Having them in your network may end up wasting too much of your time. Though it may appear you’re having fun, in the end you’ll fall short of your important goals.
And whenever you find yourself being distracted by things and folks in your network, bite the bullet and take them off your list. Remember, you’re going to focus only on important things – and that extends to your online time management also.
6. Centralize Your Networking
It is tempting to flit from one online site or service to another, trying to keep up with what’s happening on each. But if you’re hopping from Sokule to EmpireAvenue, and from Reddit to Plurk, all in search of news of your network – stop!
Invite your friends and contacts to ONE spot of your choice. Limit your engagement to that single network. You’ll save precious hours from just that simple tweak to your online time management.
7. Ignore Shiny New Things
Every social network tries to boost the ‘stickiness’ of its service. That makes sense because they are rewarded by advertisers for the attention of their users. But it’s bad news for you, because what keeps you sticking around their website is taking you away from YOUR “important work”!
So learn to ignore these devices. On Google+, it’s an eye-catching red button that’s hard to resist. With Gmail, it’s a notification of new email. On Twitter, it’s that frequently refreshing screen with news updates. On Facebook, there are many, all working together to keep you hooked on the network.
If nothing else works for you, close the windows/tabs in your Web browser, shut down the programs, tools and apps, and focus completely on your important tasks.
Time Management and Motivation
Does all of this sound abstract and impersonal to you?
Ok, let’s make it more concrete and definite, so that you’ll be motivated to try out this style of online time management. I’ll focus exclusively on Twitter, and show exactly how to limit yourself to no more than 10 minutes a day on this service, and still reap rich rewards from engaging your audience.
By adopting a similar approach to your work online, you too can enjoy all the benefits of the Internet – without wasting your work day browsing around aimlessly.
How To Manage Twitter – In 10 Minutes a Day
1. Limit the people you follow:
I follow no more than 40 people on Twitter at any time. This lets me engage in more personal, detailed conversations with a few friends, and nurture deeper connections rather than indulge in superficial chitchat with a crowd of strangers.
2. Check your time line:
I still use Twitter’s Web interface (no tools or apps for me) and start by quickly scanning my timeline for any interesting news.
3. Explore Links:
Whenever something sounds interesting, I open the link to it in a new window. Only after I finish scanning the entire time line do I view each link in turn. This saves precious time, as the page loads with graphics, video or other content.
4. Share Interesting Tid-bits:
Whenever I find something that might interest my followers, I tweet it. I’ll re-tweet interesting posts, and credit the author (which makes them happy, and wins me new friends!)
5. Engage in Conversations:
When my friends are online, I reply to their tweets or reach out for mini-conversations which only take a few minutes, but help nurture an ongoing relationship.
6. Give value:
Each time I visit Twitter, it is with the clear intention of delivering value to my network. Maybe by sharing an inspirational quote. Or a joke. Or a link to something nice. A profitable tip. Spotlighting a person. Whatever.
7. Know When to STOP:
Many Twitter users don’t know how and when to stop. It’s important to learn this for effective online time management. You can leave quietly. Or sign off with a tweet, explaining when you’ll be back.
Remember these tips – and you’ll easily handle Twitter in 10 minutes a day.
Think about how these principles apply to other online services or networks that keep chipping away at your limited time, and you’ll be able to intelligently save time as you pursue your meaningful goals – while harnessing the power of the Internet.
The key is being able to focus exclusively on your most important tasks. In one of the Ming Vase Time Management guides, “How To Focus“, we get deep into this aspect of online time management and teach you dozens of ways to concentrate on what you’re doing, and reveal a tested-and-proven system to retain focus without becoming stressed or frustrated.
Online time management can be fun – when you know the right approach and practice it.
On the Time Management Tao website, we have plenty of material to guide you to the best ways to manage your time – by tapping into 3 simple and powerful principles. We’ll show you a way and style of management of time that is rooted in balance – finding your center, understanding order, and choosing the right timing to get things done.
There are many important time management questions you’ll ask yourself over the years you strive to improve your productivity, boost your efficiency and manage your time better.
One of the most important time management questions is “How to get everything done?”
Well, the answer is really obvious. You cannot do everything by yourself. That has been painfully clear over the years you’ve been trying. So the answer is to find the right people – and delegate tasks.
For years, I did things myself. Delegation was not a word in my lexicon. There are many reasons for it. I didn’t know anyone suitable, with the necessary skills, and had no idea where to look for one. I felt comfortable doing what I did, was pretty good at it, and thought no one else could do it as well.
But at one stage, I found myself bogged down, dealing with the nitty-gritty tiny details that every major project entails. The result was I had less time to concentrate on other elements of my work and life. Surely you too have been in the same boat!
The time management questions get more complex and difficult as you progress along the journey to becoming more effective. Some issues are related to setting up systems to let things run on auto-pilot. That can free up your time, but requires some planning and intelligent automation to put into practice.
What if you ignore these questions about time management?
You’ll only find yourself struggling, getting increasingly frustrated, and eventually be forced to seek help. You may get lucky and quickly find people to help with your work. Or you may need to plod along and keep looking until you find someone.
Once you do, it’ll be amazing how by delegating just a few simple tasks you will free up so much time! You’ll find time to focus on higher level work that’s guided by your bigger, longer term goals rather than being boggled down in the day to day trivia that cannot be ignored or brushed under the carpet.
You’ll be free to plan a strategy, find new partners and concentrate on many other activities that will take you closer to your goals, help you reach your targets and transform your life totally. That’s the power in facing up to those difficult time management questions and taking the trouble to figure out answers to them.
As a time management strategy, getting your ‘dream team’ in place should claim the highest priority. And asking yourself probing and insightful questions about managing time is the best first step that leads to this happy conclusion.
For many college students, the hardest part of adjusting to classroom challenges is to manage time effectively. Time management study tips for students can help meet this and achieve success against the odds.
Community college students who spend long hours in study, and adult students who take classes part-time after full working schedules, will benefit even more from time management ideas that allow them to fit the hectic routine into their daily schedules.
Evaluate Your Time Expenditure
Time management study begins with an evaluation of how you spend your time now. What is the focus of much of your day? What goals are most important to you? Does what you focus on match your goals – family, school, other activities?
Students must spend a lot of time on study. Attending class and getting assignments done are a priority. You’ll generally spend 2 hours for every hour in class to study your subject and complete homework. This means for 10 credits, you’ll spend 20 hours per week.
Finding the time to devote to studies can be difficult without excellent time management skills. If there are conflicts among other areas of your life, you should spend some time re-evaluating your priorities and deciding if continuing in the same way is really right for you.
Using Time Management Study Tips
Even if you’re a full time student without too many constraints, if you waste the time available to you, it will lead to problems down the road. Time management study tips are useful only if you put them to work in your life. Procrastination is a challenge that many students face, and overcoming it can be your biggest hurdle.
1. Don’t clutter up your schedule. Monitor your obligations. Practice saying ‘No’. Set limits around your precious time and don’t let anything interrupt it. By concentrating fully on your study time, you’ll accomplish more without stressing out.
2. Get motivated. Keep your mind firmly on your goals. Remind yourself how whatever you’re doing is taking you closer to them.
3. Set correct priorities. You do not need to forsake all enjoyment in the name of time management. But decide what is most important, what you should do first, and then follow those priorities. If you take breaks at whim and fancy, you won’t ever get anything meaningful done.
4. Understand your responsibilities. Know what it takes to reach your goals. Ask for help. Get advice from peers and superiors to move ahead confidently.
5. Don’t get overwhelmed. If a project appears too big, break it down into smaller chunks and deal with one at a time. A textbook might seem to large to study – until you tackle one chapter at a time. Before you know it, you’ve worked your way through the entire book.
6. Perfection is your enemy. Don’t obsess over trying to make everything absolutely perfect. Put in your best effort, and accept a reasonably good result.
7. Reward yourself for progress. Celebrating smaller achievements will ensure motivation and help you enjoy the journey towards your goals.
There are many other time management study tips that deal with your environment, friends, the time of day when you can concentrate best, and general factors like exercise, sleeping well, eating healthy food and more. All of these are essentially rooted in the principles of Time Management Tao:
I'm Dr.Mani, a pediatric heart surgeon and author. I raise funds to sponsor heart surgery for under-privileged children in India. On this blog, I'll share my thoughts, travel photos, fitness tips and book reviews.