Do you ever find yourself wondering where the day went, feeling like you didn’t actually get anything accomplished? Do you try to overcompensate by multitasking or layering one activity over another, thinking you'll get more done this way?
You are probably suffering from a condition that’s pretty common these days: too little time! Even when we do a great job managing our schedule, we can still wind up short on time.
Organizing your time efficiently means getting the essential tasks done first - the "rocks, gravel, sand" approach. Try tackling the big important things first (the rocks), then if you have time complete the less pressing tasks (the gravel), and lastly, if time permits, you can add in the small things that aren't really all that important (the sand). By doing the right things at the right time, you become more efficient and effective, giving you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Good time management increases productivity and the feeling that you have more time ahead of you, this reduces stress and leaves you in a better frame of mind to enjoy your free time.
Interestingly, although we may feel like "multitasking" or "layering" activities is our secret weapon when it comes to effective time management, research suggests that most people are terrible multi-taskers. So while multitasking might seem like a more efficient way to manage our time on the surface, it isn’t. Studies suggest that that multi-tasking can reduce productivity by as much as 40%.
Here are six simple tips to help you manage your time more effectively:
1. Set clear goals
Let your goals guide your daily agenda - not your email inbox. First you need to define your goals. Then you need to organize your schedule with steps that will get you to your goal.
It is important to distinguish between urgent or essential tasks and those that are secondary (or downright unnecessary). Get the essential or urgent tasks completed first, every day. Also, delegate more often.
3. Write down your plan
Planning means creating a written overview of what needs to be done in the time available. Drawing up a schedule, whether daily, weekly or monthly, gives you more control and helps you stay on track. Aim to plan out about 60% of your day in order to leave leeway for dealing with the unexpected.
4. Recognize your efficiency cycles
The most complicated tasks should be done whenever you feel your intellectual efficiency is at its peak. Keep the less mentally demanding tasks for the times of the day you feel you typically have less mental energy.
5. Take regular breaks
Working for too long in one sitting is not an efficient as you might think. Your concentration has its limits. It’s important to take regular breaks, even a very short rest has a positive effect on productivity. Learn to pay attention to your body's needs; if you notice your mood is deteriorating, that your levels of stress and fatigue are rising and that you are losing patience, TAKE A BREAK!
6. Take care of your health
Time management and health are interrelated. It’s important to set aside specific time during the day to focus on your health. Good health and physical fitness will give you more energy to accomplish your daily tasks and make you more dynamic and productive.
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