We each have 24 hours in a day, but how you spend those hours is completely up to you. Outside of work, college and other unavoidable commitments, you’re free to spend your time as you wish. Whether you’re heading to the gym, catching up on some revision or just procrastinating with friends, you’re the only person in control of your own time.
However, have you ever noticed some people seem to be able to get way more out of their time than you do? No, they can’t slow down time, but they can manage it effectively, which is where you might be losing those precious hours. These 10 simple tips will help you manage your time more effectively, and before you know it, everyone will be asking you how you’re able to cram so much into your days.
1. Time Audit
If you’re looking to improve your time management, then you’re going to need to work out where you’re losing time in the day. In order to do this, you need to audit your time. When you arrive at college, how long do you actually spend going through emails, because it’s likely much longer than you initially think it is.
The best way to keep track of your time is by using a mobile app like Harvest or Toggl and track down every minute of your day for at least a week. After roughly one week, you’ll be able to start noticing where you’re losing precious minutes and hours from your day. Using this information, you’ll be able to make life adjustments to get that time back.
2. Set Time Limits
In order to prevent you procrastinating and wasting your time, start setting time limits for tasks. Think about how long the task should really take you without any distractions, and set this as your time limit to complete the task. Some people like to set buffers and little time gaps between tasks which allow for some tasks to run over slightly.
If you set yourself 30 minutes to read and reply to emails on a Monday morning, ensure you stick to this time limit, this way you’re not losing minutes from your day when you’re not sure how to reply to that one email. If you’re not done with the task by the time your timer is over, either set a longer time limit or just get round to that one task next time.
3. Rank Tasks from Important to Least-Important
Every single day, we have set tasks that need completing. In order to manage your time effectively, you need to identify two or three crucial tasks that need to be completed for that day to be a success.
Once you’ve identified the most important tasks of our day, get them done first. Don’t let anything get in the way of completing these tasks. Less important tasks can be left until tomorrow or until you’ve finished the crucial tasks.
4. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
In order for you to effectively manage your time and make the most out of every minute, you need to get a good night’s sleep. Some people think that if they sacrifice sleep they’ll have more time to accomplish things during the day. This isn’t true. Doing this is likely just going to tire your brain and lead to more procrastination and distractions.
It’s suggested you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night in order to recharge your mind and muscles. Waking up in the morning shouldn’t be a task in itself if you got enough sleep your body will feel energised and ready to start the day.
5. Set SMART Goals
If you set yourself goals to achieve, whether they’re daily, monthly or even yearly, you should ensure they’re all SMART.
Specific - The goal set is specific and states exactly what you wish to achieve.
Measurable - The goal can be measured and tracked with a specific tool or measurement.
Attainable - The goal is realistically achievable within your ability etc. The goal is well within the realm of possibility but remains ambitious.
Relevant - Is your goal relevant to you and what you wish to achieve.
Time-Bound - Set a time frame in which you want to aim to achieve your goals by.
6. Aim to Eliminate Bad Habits
Possibly the biggest waste of your time is bad habits. Smoke breaks, Netflix, social media, all of these are just bad habits stopping you from achieving your goals. While it’s important to take breaks and enjoy yourself, visit friends etc. you should ensure you’ve ticked off all of your daily tasks. If you’re serious about improving your productivity then eliminating these bad habits won’t be so tough.
7. Take Adequate Breaks from Work & Task
No matter the task, it’s important to ensure you’re taking adequate breaks from the task at hand. Social scientists at Hiroshima University claim to have found the formula for “perfect productivity”, and they suggest this is working for 52 minutes, then taking a 17-minute break.
There’s no way for sure to say whether or not this is true, or whether it’ll help to improve your productivity, but regardless you should ensure you’re taking at least 10 minutes for every 1 hour you spend at your computer in order to absorb information and allow your brain and eyes to have a rest period.
8. Make a To-Do List
Every evening before bed, or every morning during breakfast, sit down and write out a to-do list for the day. Look at the goals you wish to achieve on your to-do list and think about how you can help yourself achieve this goal the next day.
By making a to-do list, you’re setting out your goals for the next day and allowing yourself to set time limits and really think about the best way to manage your time in order to achieve your goals.
9. Exercise and Eat Healthy
Similar to sleeping 7-8 hours per night, people tend to think skipping lunch or breakfast will allow them to gain a little time in their day. However, once again, this just isn’t true. Exercising and eating healthily boost energy levels, clear your mind, and allow you to focus more easily, making time management and productivity that much easier.
10. Do Less
Doing less doesn’t mean do nothing, it just means take a little time to think about the more important tasks at hand. Slow down and think about what needs to be done, and concentrate on that, and only that. Doing less at a better quality is much better than doing more at a lower quality.
This post was written by Ben Fielding on behalf of Amberjack, the global experts in future talent and volume recruitment outsourcing, technology and assessment.