Do you want to improve your time management skills?
What this is really about is improving your ability to decide what to do and then to do it. Everything hinges on your ability to execute these two elements.
Let’s boil it down to what will have the most impact for you right now...
If you don’t know what you want to do with your time, you’ll be at the mercy of others who will.
How do you do that?
Make a list.
Get it all out of your head and on to paper, or whatever digital device you prefer, so you have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish.
Yes, I know... hardly groundbreaking advice, right?
But there are lists and there is this way of making a list...
Personally, I recommend and use the ‘Do It Tomorrow’ principle which is based on this premise:
When something comes into your life today and you decide it’s worth doing, put it on your list to do tomorrow.
Of course, if (a) it is genuinely urgent, (b) it takes less time to do than it does to put on your list, or (c) you've got nothing else to do, you're better off doing it immediately.
Unless it meets these criteria, schedule it to do tomorrow.
This immediately imposes a limit on what you will do the following day. You know what to expect, and you’re far more likely to do what you decided needs to be done by responding as opposed to reacting.
I know it’s counter-intuitive, but doing it tomorrow allows you to wake up every day knowing exactly what’s on your list.
If you want to improve time management skills, start tomorrow!
If you want to improve time management skills, you’ll supercharge your productivity if you develop a laser like focus on the task at hand.
Develop your ability to tune out the noise and do what matters - this phrase is on the top of every page of this site for a reason!
Distractions are everywhere and interruptions will happen, but you can get better at managing both with practice.
So turn off those notifications and get on with it!
Procrastination really is the ‘thief of time’.
Once you know what you want to do, the next challenge is to actually do it.
And the hardest part of that?
This is a lot easier to do when you reduce the resistance you feel by breaking the task down. Learning how to do that is one of the most effective ways you can improve time management skills.
This is such an important skill, but one that is so often overlooked.
If you really want to improve time management skills, improve your ability to do everything as well as it needs to be done.
‘Good enough’ is rarely advocated, but it’s actually all we ever do…
Let’s say you decide to wash your car...
a) Get the worst of the dirt off - 10 minutes
b) Clean it reasonably thoroughly, so that it’s looking ‘street smart’ - 20 minutes
c) Wash, clean and polish it to showroom standard - an hour
d) Wash, clean and polish it to showroom standard, then do it all again - two hours
I’m guessing you chose a, b or c (you did, didn’t you?!), because, depending on your values and circumstances, one of those three makes sense - it’s ‘good enough’.
Clearly, option (d) makes no sense (unless that’s your idea of a good workout).
I’m not suggesting that there aren’t things that don’t need to be done really well - perfectly even. But be aware of falling into the trap of overdoing it.
Improve your time management skills by doing things as well as they need to be done.
One of the best ways you can improve time management skills is to get better at ‘batching’ - doing the same type of tasks all in one go.
This way of working is far more efficient, freeing you up to do more of what you want to do.
… and so on.
This gets better with practice. Look for opportunities to batch your tasks as and when they appear during your day.
Batching tasks fits in well with the Do It Tomorrow suggestion up at the top.
As an example, have a look at Tip #2 on this page:
Have you seen ‘Yes Man’?
Great movie idea…
… but terrible for work-life balance!
Sure, it can be hard to say 'No' to people.
But look at the big picture, particularly in terms of the number of commitments you have, and remember this:
Nobody will value your time more than you do.
Improve your ability to say 'No' to things that don't align with your roles, goals and values.
Not only does this reduce stress; it frees up your time and energy to do more of what matters to you.
It makes all the difference.
Start by looking at what your current habits are.
Take a personal time management assessment, and identify for yourself what you really need to do to improve time management skills.