Time management is a struggle we all face, no matter what we do in life. From high-powered CEOs and girl bosses running their own digital companies to stay-at-home parents and college students, everyone would benefit from becoming a little bit better at managing their time. We’re going to dig into eight of the best time management hacks that will help you become better at handling everything that comes your way. Read on, apply the knowledge you’ll gain from this post, and you’ll feel less like you need an extra hour squeezed in between the morning and the afternoon.
1. It’s All About How You Begin
What you do first thing in the morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. Establishing a morning routine will set the tone for your day, so do your best to avoid snoozing the alarm, and get up when you open your eyes. If you like to lounge around in bed a bit, set your alarm a bit earlier, so you’ll have the time to indulge.
Also, if you get to work and jump right into emails without taking ten minutes to assess your day, improper prioritization can occur. You need to see what needs to be done first, so you know how to prioritize and schedule your day!
2. It’s Also About How You Finish
Just like you need time at the beginning of your day before jumping in head-first, you need time at the end of the day to get ready for tomorrow. You can use this time to go over your to-do list, what you still need to get done tomorrow, or write down any last minute thoughts that you don’t want to forget.
Once you’re home and ready for bed. It’s important to manage your evening so you can decompress and get a great nights’ sleep. Whether it’s writing everything down for tomorrow or winding down with some tea – find out what works for you!
3. Try Not To Multitask
Even though some people think they are great at it (and some actually are), multitasking is not all it’s cracked up to be. Yes, you feel like you are getting more done, but you may actually be draining yourself faster, and your focus will likely suffer. Ideally, you will focus on one task at a time. Dedicate all your attention to what you’re doing at that moment, and don’t allow for distractions – no phone, no social media, no inbox, no nothing.
On the other hand, there are tasks you can jumble together – cooking and listening to an audiobook, running and listening to a podcast, commuting and doing emails (unless you are driving, of course), and so on. Only multitask when you can still focus on the tasks at hand without compromising execution quality.
4. Set Smaller Tasks
This is one of my favorite time management hacks! When we are faced with a large task, we often experience project paralysis. The sheer size of the work that needs to get done instills fear and insecurity. All we can see is how much work there is to be done and how long it will take.
Instead of focusing on that one big task, write out a smaller set of tasks for each larger one. For instance, if your task is to clean the entire house, create smaller chunks! Change the bedsheets, wipe surfaces in the bedroom, change the curtains, do a load of laundry, etc.
You’ll get more done through the sheer positive impact of ticking things off your list. The more you do, the better you will feel, and the more energized you will be for the next task. And, of course, you won’t fear the big project that once seemed so insurmountable.
5. Set Personal Deadlines
If you have a major deadline for a task – any task – set yourself another one, just for you. For example, if you need to turn in a paper on Monday, set an internal deadline to complete it by the previous Wednesday. That way, you can both get ahead of yourself and provide some cushioning for the unexpected.
Remember that you will have to enforce this personal, earlier date, even though you know there is another one. It might lead to a bit of procrastination, so be aware of that and do your best to prevent it.
6. Write Everything Down
Writing things down is the best way to prevent wasted time, and it is the ultimate time management staple. No matter how well you believe you will remember something in the moment, you won’t always be able to. As more and more time is injected between the actual action and the expected result, your brain will be cluttered with other information. It simply won’t be able to keep up, and that has nothing to do with you. It’s just the way our minds work.
Keep a notebook on you at all times (or use your phone), and write everything down. If you keep different schedules, notebooks, or time management sheets for different aspects of your life, add the new task or thought to the right list when you have the time. This way things don’t slip through the cracks!
7. Schedule Time For Yourself
No matter how busy your life gets, you always need some me time. Whatever you choose to do with this time, make sure you do with it what you choose – however paradoxical that sounds.
For example, people will often tell you that you should use me time to rest, exercise, meditate, and so on. All of this is certainly desirable! But if what you want to do with your time is blitz through a to-do list so you can stop thinking about it, do that.
Me time is about allowing yourself the choice to do whatever you want and need. Since we deal with the things we impose on ourselves better than the things others want us to do, this is a great way to boost your productivity.
8. Expect The Unexpected
One thing you need to know is that there will always be things you can’t plan for, prevent, or predict. No matter how well you plan, life will sometimes barge in and demand to be heard.
When this happens, don’t immediately lament that your to-do list and careful plans have gone out the window. Accept the new reality and deal with it the best you can. After all, this is what life is – unpredictable and unstable at times. The best thing you can do is just cope, extend yourself grace, and ride it out.
You can create a backup plan for the tasks that are most important on your list. Make note of the person who can take over, a different deadline, or a different way to get something done. If it helps you feel calmer, write these B-plans down, and put them in motion if you ever need to.
Time management hacks take a bit of skill, a bit getting used to, and a lot of discipline. While you may struggle with implementing some of these tips at first, remember that the more you train a certain behavior, the more it will become a habit. And once something becomes a habit, you will struggle with it much less.
Consider which time management hacks will work best for your situation, and implement them one by one. Don’t expect yourself to completely change the way you do things overnight. Give yourself time to adjust, and you will have much less of a challenge with embracing the changes.