As we usher in the new year with renewed hope, optimism and vigour, it is time to pause and reflect on the year gone by. The hits, the misses, the success, the failures, the highs and the lows. You might have got promoted at work, got certified in a new skill, achieved academic excellence, delivered an amazing speech…and so on. There are specific factors for these successes – hard work, grit, determination, and relentless practice.
Here is a pro tip for you: Even if you feel you lack talent for a particular field or skillset, you can master it through dogged determination, a strong willpower and daily practice. Nothing is impossible.
Talking about the lows, let’s discuss one of the most oft-mentioned subjects that defines success or failure in life.
If you’re able to manage your time, you will find yourself doing more in a lot less hours. You will be more efficient with work and also find time for family and leisure. If you’re sloppy with your time, you will inevitably become plunge into the procrastination trap. And once you’re stuck there, it’s very difficult to pull yourself out.
To make 2020 and every other year more productive than ever, it’s crucial for you to understand and master the art of saving time.
So here are the top time management tips to become more efficient in life and make these coming years the best ones ever!
6. Combine similar tasks
Are you handling different tasks around different times?
For example, checking or replying to emails every now and then, making phone calls or running small errands at the house. Block specific hours for tasks that can be done together. Automate as much as possible. Can you schedule specific tasks to happen across the day, such as sending emails?
Create a power hour in which all these tasks that add to your workload can be dealt with minimal effort possible.
5. Set time limits and challenge yourself on them
Always time yourself. Set some time apart that has no distractions (we will talk about that in the next point) and mark your time by the clock. Are you spending 5 hours on a task that can be done in 1-2 hours? Use the Pomodoro technique to become more effective with your time management. Once you become more adept with a particular task, review it after a month or so and check whether you have become more efficient on it.
4. Eliminate distractions
Identify your biggest distractions.
Is it the mobile? Do you spend endless hours browsing through pics, looking up random clickbait articles or getting into online fights with unknown (or known) people over politics or religion? Or are you addicted to PUBG or other similar games?
So here’s the deal.
Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are designed to prey on you, to make you react to the most provocative things or get swayed by random pics and videos of influencers.
Who is the real beneficiary here?
These social media channels gain big through targeted ads and the influencers whom you have deified rake in the moolah.
And what do you end up with?
Loss of personal time.
How can you ever hope to be productive in such a scenario?
Ruthlessly cut away the distractions. Use social media only if it directly benefits you, your business and your skills.
Note: Running down someone in an argument might give you fleeting happiness but in reality, you will just be an online account trying to validate your existence.
The correct way to use social media?
Personalise your feed to only follow those accounts that provide you productivity tips, learning skills, life advice and anything else that can add value to your life.
Eventually, you will find that a lot of time is getting saved or being utilised to boost your personal/professional success!
3. Audit yourself or get an accountability partner
Admit it. Unless you are extremely motivated, the only way you study hard for the exams is when you are short of time or when your parents have nudged and nagged you into studying.
The same goes for time management. We are creature of slovenly habits. We like to laze around wait for things to proceed positively just by hope.
To ensure your time management plans are on track, you need to audit yourself. Keep track of how much time you are spending on different tasks and whether the actual time to completion significantly varies from the total time required.
Even better, get an accountability partner. A friend, your spouse, your sibling, a colleague – anyone who has the same motivation for time management. You will be compelled to stay on track, be more efficient in allotting time blocks for different tasks and free up a lot of time for miscellaneous tasks.
2. Set up a routine
Having a daily disciplined routine for your weekday and the weekend is key to managing time better. For example, if you want to set some time aside for reading, writing, working out, or learning a new skill, while also wanting to watch out that latest TV series on Netflix or catching up on the blockbuster playing in the theatres, you need to set a fixed time for most of these things, if not everything.
Say, for example, you are at your productive best in the morning.
Write down something that interests you the first thing in the morning, probably for an hour.
After office, you want to work out in order to meet your fitness goals. Make it a habit to hit the gym every day post work.
Maybe later on in the day, your energy wanes and you just want to unwind at home. Watch a short TV episode and also catch up on your sleep.
As you set up a routine, you will find yourself getting better at these tasks as well as planning.
You will be ultimately become more organised and more time-efficient!
1. Prioritise important tasks – eat that frog!
Let’s take a leaf out of Brian Tracy’s methods and adopt his techniques for time management.
Imagine that every day, you need to eat a big ugly, live frog the first thing in the morning. Once this is done, you can be satisfied that you’ve dealt with the most difficult task of the day.
This ugly frog is an analogy for your biggest and toughest task. Whenever you have to start your day, maintain focus and stay disciplined to ensure you don’t do anything else before you have completed this task. Don’t think much or plan to minute details. Just act! Once this major headache is gone, you will be at ease and be more confident in approaching your other tasks.
If you develop a consistent routine of ‘eating your frog’ daily, you will be to achieve much greater things in life. As Brian Tracy says:
“This habit is well-adopted by among successful people, so much so that I consider it an essential leadership quality for any CEO who intends to accomplish great things.”
Be positively addicted to eating your frog daily!
Simply jot down the task you dislike the most and set your mind on doing it the first thing in your day!
What does the ‘Founder of Modern Management’ Peter Drucker have to say about time management? Learn his three recommended steps here!