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Improving your time management skills in 7 easy steps you can start doing today!

Updated: Sep 24, 2022

Spending your time wisely


Time management incorporates elements of planning, prioritization and organizational skills. As a soft skill, it incorporates your ability to look at the bigger picture of what needs doing and the details of how you get there. Time management also incorporates an immensely important value for employers: trust.


“How you spend your time is more important than how you spend your money. Money mistakes can be corrected, but time is gone forever.” - David Norris


High-achievers regard time as an asset, more valuable than money and they spend every minute wisely. Here are some tips for you to stay focused, organized and make the best out of your most valuable asset, Time!


Managing time


The secret is time is your most valuable and scarcest resource. You can’t get it back, you can’t buy it, there is nothing you can actually do once it is gone, and the clock is ticking, no pun intended!


Successful people focus on their top priority, long-term goals, and identify meaningful, specific short-term objectives they must accomplish first.


As an entrepreneur, and even as a project manager, I have always been bothered with constant interruptions and it was making my day I knew there had to be a way to solve for this. At first, I thought of my planning my entire day ahead, assessing every possible risk, and being as predictable as possible would be a great way to manage those interruptions. Who can consider an interaction an “interruption” if it was planned right? So if I could plan everything, I would be in a more safe spot with almost no interruptions. Well, I was wrong.


I got to understand very quickly that I needed to make time not only for unplanned interruptions, but that I also needed to acquire a different mindset, I needed to become laser focused on those things that added more value now, and focus and limiting my work in progress to accomplish those things in a systematic way, one after another.


The question was, where do I start? I knew I couldn’t add more time to my day, and I knew I needed to maintain some sort of work life balance. I knew I had to get organized in a different way.


 

1. Getting organized


So my first recommendation is to get super clear on your long term goals. Make a list, but don’t list any more than 3 or 5 long term overarching goals of things you want to accomplish this year. Your goals should align with the strategic planning goals of your company. Here is an article that helps understand how Strategic Planning comes to life to help support the company Mission and Vision. (Click here to read more about it).


That list is likely to not change over time, they shouldn’t change much, it is what is going to drive you forward during the year. Of course, things can change and some things are totally out of our control, but ideally, if you have set the right goals they should change much, or change at all.


Once you know what your long-term goals are, we can move to the next step.

We will break down those major goals in to more specific workstreams. Creating a list of objectives that will support those goals will help you identify what needs to be done in the big scheme of things. Think of it in terms of “What needs to be true” so you can achieve these goals. For example, if your goal is to buy a new car, think about the things you need to do (save x amount of money, identify the make and model of the car you want to buy, maybe sell your current car first, etc.). This list doesn’t need to be super long and complex. As a matter of fact, short and sweet, straight to the point is much more preferable so you know exactly what needs to happen without getting into the details of it yet, otherwise you will get lost in those details before you even start. Think about it in a way of things that you should do at a high level within a month or two. Again, as long as your goals don’t change, this list of objectives to achieve those goals should change much.


Now lastly, with those objectives in mind you can start working on your weekly or daily tasks to achieve those objectives. These lists will be created daily or weekly, and if you do things right, you shouldn’t have the same tasks at hand on a weekly or daily basis.


At times it may seem so simple that writing it down seems like overkill, but then we may forget a thing or two. At times we do write it down, but we fail to prioritize the tasks, and some of us want to do too much all at once, and we fail to understand that we only have a limited amount of time each day to get things done.


This is where most people have problems with. Some of us struggle to even identify what are the next steps and end up without a list because seems overwhelming. Some of you know needs to be done and may struggle to write it down. I knew I would struggle with this too at first.


I knew I needed to find a way to prioritize my work in order to get the best value out of it on a daily basis. But how could I do that in a way that it didn’t seem daunting, and that I could follow through every single day.


Let’s take a look at how a simple method can help you get the most out of your day, every day!


2. Getting detailed


We talked about setting clear long term goals, identifying objectives that will support those goals in the grand scheme of things, and then breaking down those objectives into activities or tasks that will add value and check off things we need to do to accomplish objectives.


Something that has worked for me is to have a clear understanding of what I need to do daily that adds value and helps me accelerate the accomplishments of those objectives.



At the beginning of the week you can create a list of tasks that will tackle during that same week or you can just jump straight into creating daily tasks list. Whatever works for you. I personally prefer to use both.


The reason why I enjoy doing both is because if I understand everything I want to accomplish during the week, it is way easier to gage my daily efforts and divide them through the week. A weekly list alone may seem daunting and a little bit of a heavy lift. Depending on what’s on your plate, such a long list may be very difficult to prioritize. Granted, you will know the must do at a first glance, but then it gets blurry after that.


That is why it is critical to have a list of daily tasks, that tie to your weekly activities, that relates to your monthly objectives to accomplish your annual goals. It’s all about feeding your brain with a positive mindset to tackle your daily tasks, feel accomplished and achieve your most important goals you have set up for the year.


3. The art of prioritizing your work


As we mentioned, successful people focus on their top priority, long-term goals, and identify meaningful, specific short-term objectives they must accomplish first and we have covered in detail how to get organized and hopefully you can see the value on getting organized around your most important goals.


Now it is time to execute on that work we have identified, and it may seem that there is a lot to do, and we may get lost while trying to find out where to start.


If you do come up with a daily list of tasks, make sure there is no more than 10 tasks.


Not only it will help you stay focused, it will also allow you to accomplish them without feeling the burden to carry over “unfinished business” to the next day and feel frustrated. The discomfort that comes from not finishing what you have set up to-do has a great emotional impact, and it


will start making you question if in fact your goals are achievable.


At a glance, prioritizing work it is a simple as identifying your most important task, and doing it first. Every day, wash, rinse, repeat. However, there is a little bit more that we can do to make our life easier moving forward.


Most people say procrastination is why they choose easier tasks first or believe they will perform better later. Instead of delaying those simple tasks, make sure you make room for them right after the top 3 most important tasks of the day.


There will always be more to do, so be very careful with tackling those easier tasks first. Tackle them right after you are done with the 3 top priorities. That way you have tackled the most important things, and you also tackle t


he easier to-do, the long hanging fruit, without necessarily delaying those high value tasks.


4. Capitalize on your innovative ideas


With time being such a precious resource, it is hard to find time to be creative. Some of the best ideas are just really a thought that came up spontaneously at a specific time, and we may forget all about it in a few minutes.

Some of the most successful people of modern times always carry a notebook with them. Jotting down stray thoughts, meeting notes, and great ideas creates indelible impressions. Research shows the brain uses several intertwined functions to process handwritten information. This results in more active accurate recall than typing. Transfer your notes to your phone or a computer for permanent future reference.


5. Control distractions, AKA: your inbox, social media and text messages, they are productivity killers


Office workers spend up to 1/3 of their days reading and replying to emails.

Unless you are somebody’s assistant, this could be incredibly ineffective from a creative and solutioning stand-point. Unless your job is clearly replying to a support inbox, or supporting an executive with managing his inbox, this is the possibly your biggest time suck of the day in a corporate environment.


One thing you could do is set up time frames, and block it in your calendar, to reply to emails and manage your inbox.


Most people that have successfully managed their inbox set up a series of checkups during the day so the email inbox don’t manage them. The first check is before they start their morning routine. They have actually changed their morning routine to kick it off with email checks. The next one is at noon, to ensure any urgent matter is still tackled during the day, if any response is required with urgency. And the third is at the end of the day, to avoid carrying the burden or un-responded emails from the day before.



With social media it works in similar manner, with this is more of a true self-assessment and control our impulse of getting distracted.


Unless your source of income or influence comes from social media, you need to make a conscious effort to stay away from your phone apps as well as interacting with them online on your computer. It is indeed a major distraction that divert our thoughts in a different direction if we let it happen, and reeling back productivity is not easy, much more so when the distraction happens a few times a day. On this one, you need to hold yourself accountable, and it actually no different than focusing on text messages from loved ones … it can be very distracting, and certainly a total productivity killer.


6. Not everything needs to be a meeting


A real tip that is highly underrated in time management is that not everything needs to be a meeting, and you should avoid them at all costs if possible.


Ask yourself, can I communicate this via email, can I just send a text message, do we need a short team huddle? Or even better, what is the best way to communicate what I need to say, or what I need to hear?


Many entrepreneurs use a brief daily huddle as a more efficient and unifying way to get their team moving. In the most common way of Agile frameworks, Scrum, the daily stand up is the way for a working team to plan their daily activities while keeping the entire team in the know and call out impediments.


Some teams have group chats through apps that enable perfect alignment without a need for everyone to stop what they are doing at a specific time to hear what someone thinks it’s the most important topic in the world.


Granted, if the team needs to align on a path forward and need a solution or decision on a topic, that is much better handled in a meeting set up than through an email, but be critical on how you spend you time, and the time of others.


7. Finally, No means NO


Remember those goals, and those objectives that will help you achieve those goals?

If you are tempted to engage with something that doesn’t support those goals, you will have to learn to say No!


Business magnate Warren Buffett advises that very successful people say no to almost everything. They realize that each commitment of their time may result in the loss of other opportunities; and the cost of opportunity is huge. Remember, the one thing we cant put a price on, and the one things we cant get back, its time.


We are here to help you out

Do you have great ideas but you are struggling with getting organized, being productive and need to stop procrastinating?


Whether you are new to entrepreneurship or a seasoned career professional, we are here to help you be successful. We help career oriented professionals and entrepreneur minded individuals alike to become high performing individuals.


NEXT STEPS

You can find more insights and useful tips in our social media posts and in our podcast (all links below) where we share some of the most visionary entrepreneurs’ mission, purpose, accomplishments, and struggles, and their take on what it took for them to be successful.


 
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