Time management skills have become essential nowadays, as they can reduce stress and help you to achieve our dreams. Still, we just don’t seem to have enough time to get everything done, plus enjoy some me-time and social activities.
And the sad truth is that we don’t learn how to deal with our time, not in school, not from our parents. It is a skill that everybody assumes that we naturally have when it actually is something that needs to be acquired.
So nothing better than counting on proven ways to make the most of the time that we have – as we can’t just add extra hours to our day, neither stop eating or sleeping. Here are the top 7 things which you should learn to improve your time management skills.
1. Learn to Set Goals
The first thing you must learn to improve your time management skills is to set goals. You need to have clear to which end you are using your time, and it is something that you can only accomplish by defining your objectives.
But the point here is that you understand how goals are set in the first place. There are many methods out there, but the most popular is SMART. It says that you can only call it a goal if it is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bounding. So check if it is what you are doing before anything else.
2. Learn to Prioritise
Now that you know what your goals are, it is time for the next step: prioritizing your activities. It is crucial because, let’s be honest here, there isn’t enough time to do all that you would like to do. You will have to choose what comes first.
So, if you want to see your time stretching, start making a list of all tasks you go through every day for a week. Next, check which ones are not aligned to any of your goals – considering that you got step 1 already done. Then, just stop doing them. Simple like this.
Still, you made find some tasks that give you that mixed feeling. If so, leave them aside, in a different list, and move to the next topic.
3. Learn to Organize a Schedule
You got rid of everything that wasn’t helping you to achieve your goals. So it might be that you got some free time in your hands. Sounds great, but now you have to add things that you probably weren’t doing, and that is important to you. Or maybe you need to spend more time doing something that you enjoy.
The only way to make it happen without falling back into the same trap again is by changing your schedule to find time for every task and also strike a balance. You need to write down everything that you want to do, and define when you are going to do them and for how long. This way, you will see your tasks more clearly and check if you really have enough time for all of them.
If you realize that you don’t have enough time for everything, don’t panic. Just go back to step 2 and prioritize again. OR works on the way to becoming more productive and improving your time management skills.
4. Learn to Stay Focused
After doing all the hard work planning what you are going to do of your time, you will have to make it happen. And for it, you will have to stay focused.
It is very easy to get lost with distractions. Our world today is full of them, online and offline. There are TV, apps, e-mails, plus our families and friends. There are also our own interests and hobbies.
But if you are trying to save time, you will need to eliminate them. And it starts with your own will power. Stick a post-it on your monitor as a reminder of what is important.
Keep it on your wallet, your fridge, on your TV, on your mobile’s home screen, anywhere that you know that can trigger distractions. You should also look for positive and negative reviews of apps, browsers extensions, and tools that can help you to stay focused.
Regarding other people, have an honest conversation with them. Explain why you are doing it and for how long. And, when possible, let them be part of the process. It usually is all that you need to do most of the time.
5. Learn to Communicate Better
Talking about conversations, learning to communicate better can also help you to improve your time management. And it is because it will allow you to set boundaries and negotiate extra time if needed.
By communicating yourself better and becoming assertive, you will get more support for your tasks. You will also be forced to think through your challenges so that you can explain them, and it will help you to revisit and analyze your goals so you can improve it.
And if you change the complaining by positive communication, you will also be opening your mind and your ears to new ideas and suggestions, which are always welcomed.
6. Learn to Make Decisions
It probably is one of the most difficult actions related to time management (and to many other aspects of life). Making decisions is not easy, as you know.
We are always concerned if we are taking the right path, we get enough information if we are seeing the big picture and predicting all possible scenarios.
Unfortunately, there is no perfect formula for it. You can only make your best guess and go for it. Circumstances might change, and something that seemed perfectly fine today might not be tomorrow.
But the other way around is even more complicated. Not making decisions will put you through the chaos and a sense that life is happening against your will. So you must learn to do it, especially the tough ones, to ensure that you live fully.
Also, don’t be afraid to delegate some of your work if it seems overwhelming. There are always professional advisors and services that can help you out and complete your tasks on time. Just choose wisely and make sure you`ve checked reviews of companies that provide the services you need.
7. Learn to Stop Procrastinating
Last but not least, it comes from the nemesis of time management. Procrastination will destroy everything you have done so far, from your goals setting to schedules and communication skills.
It is effortless to leave for tomorrow what doesn’t seem urgent. Still, it is crucial that you give to what is necessary the same special treatment you offer to what is important to you.
Procrastination is a quiet enemy, so be attentive to it. It will eat only a few minutes per day sometimes if you are sticking with the idea of staying focused.
So make sure that your to-do-list has very strict deadlines, the kind that you can’t avoid. Find out any mechanism you can get to keep you on track, even if it means asking your mother to shout at you every day over the phone.
Just don’t let it destroy your dreams.
The bottom line
If you want to improve your time management skills, you will have to learn a few things. You will need to learn to set goals, prioritize, make decisions, stay focused, and to organize a schedule.
You will also need to stop procrastinating once and for all and become able to ask for support from your family, friends, co-workers, and even from apps.
This way, you will be able to feel less overwhelmed and with more free time to do what is important to you, instead of always living in a hurry.