If you're like me, you never seem to have enough time in the day. Despite scheduling everything down to my morning meditation on my calendar, some days I still feel like I can't get it all done.
Whether you’re a self-motivated entrepreneur or a high school student, it can be tough to find an effective time management practice. In fact, research shows that 82% of people don’t have any time management system at all. One of the most important lessons I've learned while building companies is that practicing time management can save you a tremendous amount of stress. Time is a precious commodity. Entrepreneurs who are busy growing their businesses need to maximize every moment of their day.
Read on to find out more about the importance of time management and how to improve your skills.
What Is Time Management?
How can some people get so much done during the day? The answer isn’t that time works differently for them—it’s that they have mastered time management. Time management is the process of planning and delegating a specific amount of time to spend on certain activities. Rather than spending "as long as it takes" on each individual task, you create a schedule in which you decide ahead of time how long to spend on each area.
The Importance Of Time Management
It takes practice to improve your time management skills. In order to stay motivated in your time-management efforts, you should learn about the benefits that successful time managers gain by consistently practicing their techniques.
Here are a few benefits for practicing effective time management:
- Increased opportunities
People who don't manage their time well miss out on opportunities that are available to those who plan effectively. Proper time management means less time wasted on non-essential activities, which can open you up to opportunities to engage in meaningful experiences that help advance your career.
- Less stress
Whenever we find ourselves running up against the clock, stress ensues. When you can manage your time properly, you’ll find you meet deadlines with plenty of time to spare. This will help you avoid the stress of letting your responsibilities slide, which can lead to tense situations with coworkers.
- More goals accomplished
The better you manage your time, the more you can accomplish. During the time you would otherwise waste, you could do any number of things–take an online course to learn a new skill, spend time with family, or even take on additional projects at work.
- Improved reputation
People know who they can rely on, and who they can't. You want to be the person that others turn to for help, advice, and assistance. With the right time management strategies, you can establish a reputation as someone dependable and trustworthy.
- Reduced burnout
Burnout can come from taking on too much work and not enough rest, but it often finds its roots in poor time management. While time management can help you become more efficient, it also requires that you schedule in the necessary amount of downtime to ensure you’ll be mentally and physically healthy enough to carry the burden.
Consequences Of Poor Time Management
You can be busy without being productive. When you lack time management skills, you may find that the busier you are, the less you actually achieve. Struggling with time management is associated with higher levels of stress, insomnia, depression, and other mental health issues. You’ll need to learn how to improve time management if you want to avoid burnout and inefficiency.
General Tips For Better Time Management
Here are some of the best tips I’ve learned for mastering time management, building a more organized schedule, and achieving your goals:
- Set regular goals
Setting regular goals for yourself will provide you with direction and motivation throughout the day. It’s easy to languish when you don’t know what you’re doing, but if you set specific and achievable daily goals, each new accomplishment will serve as a reinforcement.
- Choose your priorities carefully
Time management isn't about doing everything at once. It's about prioritizing your activities and making choices that will help you achieve the outcome you want. Prioritize your activities from highest to lowest priority, then divide out the amount of time spent on each accordingly.
- Take plenty of breaks
I always schedule breaks into my day, a practice that prevents me from burning out. If you schedule a short break between each activity—even if it’s just a 10-minute walk—you won’t get overwhelmed and decide to break from your schedule.
- Stay organized
Scheduling out your day can keep you focused on what's important. I use Google Calendar, but there are lots of ways to manage your time and tasks. Experiment with different systems and find one that works for you. The act of crossing things off the list can be a powerful motivator to keep going when you want to quit.
- Limit your time
Decide how much time you'll spend on a project—and then do your best to stick to that amount of time. If you're ahead or behind schedule, adjust accordingly. Once you get used to estimating how long something will take, you'll be less likely to take on tasks that are too much for you.
- Get rid of non-essential tasks
Time is a precious commodity you don’t want to waste. If you find that you’re spending a large chunk of each time on something unnecessary, it’s in your best interest to cut it from the schedule. The more of these tasks you rid yourself of, the more time you’ll have to achieve your goals.
- Plan, plan, plan
If you leave time management until the last minute, it becomes that much more difficult to stick to a schedule. Plan ahead by writing out a loose schedule for yourself at the beginning of the week and refining the next day’s events the night before.
Time management can be hard to master. You need to practice daily if you want it to become second nature. Just as you must practice civil discourse and other social skills, you’ll need to practice time management on a regular basis if you want to enjoy its numerous benefits.