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What is time management?
The ultimate 12 time management tips
What means time management or “self management”? The time management definition can differ for different people and contexts – for one it might be a productivity system to get things done, for another it’s all about priorizisation or delegation – for many employees, creatives, freelancer or students it’s about motivation and concentration.
Also the objectives might be diverse: Whereas Lucy aims to increase her productivity to pursue her career, Frank might want to reduce his stress level primarily since he fears a burnout and John desires more time with his family or find time to do his favorite sports again. All in all, having time management skills belongs to the most important soft skills.
What is the most important productivity / time mangement tip for you? Please share in a comment … However, for now, here is a list of my personal top 12 time management tips. I hope they will be of help for your work, projects, management, studies or learning process.
1. Time Management Skills: Prioritisation & Goal Setting
Prioritisation and goal setting is where time management starts.
Goal setting: concrete, realistic and fitting to your way of thing is a critical self management skill. Be aware of which goals you have in your job, studies and in your private life:
- Which demands do you set on yourself?
- What do you want to achieve in life / job / studies?
- What do you want to learn?
Know your goals so you can prioritize easier for your day.
Idea: Make a list of 10 dreams and things you want to accomplish. Usally, this is all you need to get effective time management started. Then attach concrete steps and tasks and a date, so they can be implemented more easily.
2. Set Success Criteria for your Career
Effectiveness = act to aid your goals. There are always things that will help you reach your aims better than others.
Not the one who works the longest has the most success – it’s the one who acts the smartest. So ask yourself:
- What are the things that push you forward the most?
- What are the critical factors of success? (Write them down and stick them to your wall visibly.)
- How do you have to change your way of working accordingly?
- Which things do you have to do differently, what can be dismissed?
Focus your energy and time planning on these important tasks that can bring you a big step forward and optimize your self management!
3. Plan Realisticly and Create Synergies
Human = desire. Science proves that our plans are mostly too optimistic. Often our plans origin in desire – this is not the realistic view! Stop and ask yourself: „What is really important to me?“
But you don’t have to put everything on hold; many tasks can be associated with pleasant things. Look for solutions to get from „either or“ to „as well as“ decisions! Try to kill two birds with one stone. Get this done by harmonizing your tasks, jobs or study topics intelligently.
4. Time Plan: Planning Avoids a Waste of Time (even on paper)
10 minutes of planning = 1 hour saved time! You can save a lot of time through planning: when is the best point of time for which step? What has to be done first before you can go to the next step? How can things be combined? Which mails / phone calls / tasks can be bundled?
5. Appetizer Policy: Slice the Salami
Don’t be afraid of big chunks – slice them into smaller parts and plan the milestones accurately. That way you can succeed step by step. Intermediate steps are easier to control using checklists.
This time management technique is also called the „salami technique“ since we wouldn’t gobble up one whole salami but rather would prefer to enjoy single slices on our bread.
6. Execute Important Things First
Morning = first priorities. The most important self management rule: schedule your day that the big projects come first! Why?
- You can get into the topic faster.
- You work more consecutively on your first priority task.
- Your brain gets fed with the most important task already in the morning – and will continue thinking about it during the breaks later on.
- You decrease the danger of clutter.
7. Mind Your Circadian Rhythm
High priority = primetime. There’s one exception to rule no. 6: your circadian rhythm / personal performance graph. Some can get out of bed and instantly work very effectively, but they slow down in the evening. Others start later. Find out your „high areas“. Make sure that you can work undisturbed in these times!
Schedule routines and less important tasks for the performance lows: check mails, do the shopping, clean the flat – this can be done in the breaks! This leads to the situation that your breaks are going to be both productive and leisurely – because you move, stimulate your brain activity and muscles, while your eyes can enjoy a screen break. Relaxing!
8. Work Efficiently: Bundle Similar Tasks
Efficiency = bundle tasks. Collect similar tasks in a to-do list to get those things done more efficiently. During the job those tasks could be phone calls, mail or shelf work which can be carried out in a block. While studying it can be helpful to bundle time intensive researches, shopping and hearings.
9. Simplify: Eisenhower Method & Pareto Analysis
Simplify! Do you sometimes think something is too complicated? Is there too much stuff around your desk that distracts you from thinking? Did you shoot for the moon but didn’t come closer to your goal? Then you definitely need a „mental spring cleaning“!
Learn perfect time management through constantly asking yourself the questions:
- „What is important? What is urgent? What is neither of them?“ (Eisenhower method)
- „Which 20 percent of the tasks bring 80 percent of my success?“ (Pareto analysis).
10. Ask for Advice
Ask experts. When you stick to a problem or don’t know how something works – or you just feel down – ask for advice. They don’t necessarily have to be experts. Friends, colleagues, your partner or parents see your situation more objectively or are more experienced and knowledgeable. Don’t be afraid – most people like to help. Sure you can return the favor later.
11. Schedule the Day Into Blocks and Protect Yourself
Work = work. Break = break. You don’t have to be available or online 24 hours a day. For most tasks it is important to work on them for ca. 60-120 minutes (depending on your concentration span) so you don’t get distracted. Protect yourself from external troubles and call back later.
12. Work-Life-Calance: Evaluate and Party!
Collect your own feedback and energy. „Work starts after work.“ Due to that it is truly important that you take 1-2 hours to write down what went well and what you can improve the next time. Besides, it’s now time to reward yourself for your engagement and enjoy life!
One part of the optimal self management and time management is and has to be the work-life balance. Have a good time!
The Top Time Management Tips in Short:
- Time management tip 1: Set and prioritize professional and private goals.
- Time management tip 2: Find out the critical factors of success for your goal.
- Time management tip 3: Handle your priorities consequently.
- Time management tip 4: Time plan: go step by step.
- Time management tip 5: Slice big tasks into small steps.
- Time management tip 6: Get the highest priority done first.
- Time management tip 7: Use your primetime for the most important tasks.
- Time management tip 8: Be efficient while bundling tasks.
- Time management tip 9: Simplify your tasks and thoughts.
- Time management tip 10: Ask others for advice. Delegate if possible.
- Time management tip 11: Schedule in time blocks with tangible goals.
- Time management tip 12: Relax and enjoy the day.
No chance for time thieves and time killers! This is an important checklist for optimal self management and perfect time management strategies. Never underestimate the importance of time management for students, time management at work or elsewhere.
Do you know other time management tips that help you best? Share them with other readers by adding a comment.
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