Time is one of the fixed resources we have. There is only or even 24 hours a day. To be able to say even, we need to build time management skills and use time management tools. Only then we will be able to achieve more during the same amount of time.
Setting your goals
So if you are looking for time management tips (how to build time management skills) very likely you have more on your plate then you can handle. I admire quote by Paula Pant, “you can afford anything… but not everything“. This means although you could do many things, you need to choose which ones are most important for you? What goals do you want to achieve for sure?
Action: Identify key goals you want to achieve
Track your time
So let’s start with the first skill, knowing where you spend your time. I intentionally suggest this as one of the first steps, so that the next ones could be more accurate. How you can create a plan for your goals if you do not know, how much time you spend and where? Use any time tracking app to gather base data, so you could see where the time goes.
Gather at least one week of data, ideally more. This will give you more reliable data about what you do with your time. After this, you will have data whether you are doing something to reach your goals or are engaging in activities that are not related or are low priority or just wasting your time by browsing social media.
As mentioned by the time management expert, Laura Vanderkam. There are 168 hours in a week, about 50 you are spending at work, about 50 you sleep, so there are almost 70 hours for your disposition.
Actions: Track your time for at least a week to see where you are spending it
Evaluate are you spending time according to the goals you have set. Maybe there are useless or less important activities that could be cut off
Create a plan
Now that you know the key goals you want to achieve and where your time goes. You can create a plan, how to achieve those goals. Your plan should be realistic, please do not fall into the planning bias. Your plan execution will not be smooth. There will be some urgent or unforeseen cases, which will try to disrupt your plan. So if you do not take them into account you will fail. Think about your previous experiences and be honest with yourself. Even if you have 4 hours on some particular day, are you sure you will dedicate all that time to your particular key goal?
Plan less add time buffer, follow your priorities and then all should be fine. If you finish things faster, great, you will just take the next thing from your plan.
Partition your goals into small steps. Create a plan for a week, what you want to achieve.
Actions: Create a REALISTIC plan that would address your key goals first
Plan lees and add time buffers for emergency or unforeseen cases
Please consider this point of view during the planning phase. If you think you will be able to be productive when working on several goals at the same time, think NOT. Studies have shown that multitasking reduces overall performance, our mental capacity, and the creativity we have. So when making an action plan, try to avoid having multiple activities at the same time and less context switching as possible. I know that it might be difficult to avoid multitasking completely, but have this in mind and try to minimize it as much as possible.
Action: Avoid parallel activities and context switching when creating a plan for your goals
These are the first steps that should bring more transparency, clarity, and order into your personal or work life. After completing these steps you could go to the next level of time management tooling, which could make you even more efficient, a true time management ace…
PS. I explicitly made these time management recommendations generic, so that they could be applied to your personal or work-related goals.