Ten Essential Time Management Tips – by Dumb Little Man

February 23, 2010 at 3:20 am 2 comments


Over the past six years, I%u2019ve picked up a lot of time management tips. Some of them have been helpful and, frankly, some have been useless. Here, I%u2019ve compiled the ten that have served me best. And yes, I%u2019m sure you%u2019ll have heard some of them before … but are you actually doing them?

It doesn%u2019t matter whether you%u2019re self-employed, employed or a student: over the past six years, I%u2019ve been an undergraduate student, a full-time employee, a part-time postgraduate student, and a freelancer %u2013 and these tips work for all those situations!

  1. Three Important Things
    This is the %u201Cbig rocks first%u201D technique of scheduling your three most important tasks into your day and letting everything else flow around them.

    In case you%u2019ve not come across the %u201Crocks%u201D analogy before, it goes like this:

    You%u2019re given a jar, three large rocks, a handful of pebbles and some sand. If you pour the sand and pebbles into the jar first, there won%u2019t be room to force the rocks into it %u2013 but if you put the rocks in first, the pebbles can flow around the rocks, then the sand can be poured in to fill the gaps.

  • Always Carry a Notepad
    How often have you been stuck waiting for a train or standing in line at the bank with absolutely nothing to do? Keep a notepad in your pocket or purse and you%u2019ll always be able to do some productive work: whether it%u2019s an outline for your next project, a list of ideas for new products, or a few notes for an article or short story.

    If you have a PDA or phone that you can type on, try using that instead of a notepad %u2013 you can transfer your notes to your computer.


  • Make Checklists
    Do you ever find yourself procrastinating on big projects %u2013 or spinning your wheels without much idea of what needs to be done next? For almost any project, a checklist is a good way to keep on track. You might keep checklists like:
    • Books and articles to read for your next essay
    • Steps to take whenever you take on a new client
    • Office procedures, such as closing up at night

    Checklists are particularly important for tasks which you do on a regular basis: they%u2019ll save you the time of trying to figure out exactly what it is you need to in order to set up a new website or launch a new product. Breaking down a big project into individual tasks is also a great way to avoid procrastination.


  • Work in Short Bursts
    Many people make the mistake of trying to work for long hours at a stretch. Inevitably, they run out of energy quickly %u2013 or end up working inefficiently. It%u2019s much easier to concentrate when you%u2019re working for a short time period, which is why students are normally advised to study for 20-45 minute bursts, taking frequent breaks.

    If you%u2019re struggling to concentrate on work, set a timer for twenty minutes, and see how much you can get done in that time. Twenty minutes of concentrated work can be more productive than two hours of fiddling around.

  • Do One Thing
    Our world is becoming faster and busier than ever. It%u2019s all too common for us to be replying to emails, keeping up with friends on Twitter, and holding a conversation with colleagues %u2013 while trying to get that big company report finished. No wonder we end up working late.

    Experts now believe that it%u2019s better for us to concentrate on one task at a time, rather than multi-tasking: every time we switch between different tasks, we have to refocus %u2013 and we%u2019re also likely to get distracted.


  • Pay Yourself First
    If you%u2019ve done any reading on financial management, you might have come across the idea of paying yourself first %u2013 setting aside money towards your long-term goals each time you get your paycheck. You can apply a similar principle to your time, either on a daily or weekly basis.

    %u201CPay yourself first%u201D by spending an hour before work each morning on your goals %u2013 not on household chores. (If the chores really need to be done, you%u2019ll get them done in the evening.)

  • Get Enough Sleep
    Many of us try to cram more into our day by cutting out sleeping time: but this can be hugely counter-productive. You%u2019ll never be able to focus well when you%u2019re yawning over your keyboard and if you push yourself too hard for too long, you may end up getting ill.

    Some people can function well with under eight hours sleep, but most of us need to be getting at least seven hours.

  • Track Your Time
    Where does all the time go? I%u2019m sure that%u2019s a question most of us have asked ourselves recently. Of course, it%u2019s not hard to find out: simply spend a week keeping track of your time, writing down what you do each hour.

    Don%u2019t make the excuses that you %u201Cdon%u2019t have time%u201D to do this %u2013 it%u2019ll only take a few extra minutes during the day (simply make a note of the time you start and end each task) %u2013 and it can reveal some uncomfortable truths about where you%u2019re spending the bulk of your time.


  • Schedule Time for Emails
    When you sit down at your computer in the morning, what%u2019s the first thing you do? For many of us, it%u2019s checking emails. It%u2019s easy to get sucked into replying to just one thing … only to find that it%u2019s lunch-time and you%u2019ve not really accomplished anything.

    If you find yourself checking emails whenever you%u2019re stuck or procrastinating, then set yourself rigid times to read and reply. You could try 11am and 4pm %u2013 it%u2019s unlikely that anyone really needs a reply from you at 8am.


  • Delegate Whenever Possible
    Finally, the best way that I%u2019ve found to free up my time is to delegate. The more tasks you can pass on to other people, the easier it%u2019ll be to cope with your own workload. This might mean training a subordinate to take over some of your tasks at work, it might mean hiring a virtual assistant for your home business, or it could just be getting your spouse or teens to cook dinner once in a while.

    Many of us find delegating stressful, so here are some tips on how to do it right.

  • Which of the above ten tips work for you? Have you got a favorite time-management tip that%u2019s not on this list? Let us know in the comments%u2026

    Written on 12/28/2009 by Ali Hale. Ali is a professional writer and blogger, and a part-time postgraduate student of creative writing. If you need a hand with any sort of written project, drop her a line (ali@aliventures.com) or check out her website at Aliventures. Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks

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    2 Comments Add your own

    • 1. Macky  |  February 23, 2010 at 6:24 am

      thanks for sharing! time management is really important. it’s plays a major role in reaching goals..

      Reply
      • 2. passionpridefamily  |  February 23, 2010 at 9:23 am

        I know! I’m still trying to integrate it, not only for work, but in my daily life.

        Thank you for the comment.

        Reply

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