Why does it seem that some people are able to get the most out of every minute of the same 24-hour day? It took some research for us to conclude that it’s in fact not some special resilience or inherent aptitude to multi-task that sets them apart. Efficient people simply manage their time.
Time management is the ability to plan and control how you spend the hours in a day to effectively accomplish your goals, according to Psychology Today.
If your annual time management plan is to plough through every day and hope to somehow make it to the end of the year and catch your breath in December, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board. If you want to become the master of your own time, start by implementing these seven tips for time management at work and home:
1. First things first – prioritise
This may sound like an obvious one but very few people really know how to prioritize tasks. Losing sight of priorities can be the result of living in a world where we’re expected to be available 24/7, says Melinda Kennedy, organizational development consultant at Caliper. On a basic level you should prioritize tasks based on urgency.
One way to do that is by using the quadrant system that was made popular by Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and First Things First.
2. Spend your mornings on MITs
Use every morning to focus on your biggest and most-challenging tasks, aka your most important tasks (MITs) of the day. Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, for example once said in an interview that he tries to get all his high-IQ meetings in before lunch to make sure he’s fully present.
3. Save time with a schedule
Scheduling is the art of planning your activities so that you can achieve your goals and priorities the time you have available. When it’s done effectively, it helps you understand what you can realistically achieve with your time and ensures you have enough time for essential tasks.
4. Make a list
There is scientific evidence that the act of planning activities through to-do lists reduces the burden on the brain. The most famous example is from Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik.
All goals and projects are made up of smaller parts that need to be accomplished in order to achieve the goal or complete the project, suggests William Lipovsky, owner of First Quarter Finance. “Create to-do lists for each goal and project, listing all the measurable steps that need to be accomplished,” he says.
5. Set goals for tasks
The SMART method allows you to set your goals so that you don’t feel frustrated when you can’t seem to finish a task. The acronym SMART should be the platform with which you create goals for certain tasks:
- (S) — Specific
- (M) — Meaningful
- (A) — Achievable
- (R) — Relevant
- (T) — Time-Based
6. Be fully present
Aneesa Razack, CEO of Share Investing at FNB, previously told News24 that in order to balance her time between life and work she finds it important to be fully present wherever she is. The first and foremost obstacle to being present is distraction. Try and limit your distractions to be fully focused on one task at a time.
7. Don’t waste time
It seems obvious, but wasting time is not great for time management. Although you don’t need to plan out every second of your day, it’s never great to realise three hours of work have passed while you’ve been scrolling up and down your Facebook feed.
Many of us are fall victim to time-wasters that steal time we could be using much more productively. Identify the time bandits in your life and try to illuminate them by, for example, turning of your social media notifications at work.
This post is sponsored by Volkswagen Touareg and produced by BrandStudio24.