You hear that, don’t you? Tick, boom! Tick, boom! The loud, dramatic countdown sound effect from the TV show 24 plays in your head every second you spend away from your work.
Don’t worry. Jack Bauer isn’t going to chase you down if you procrastinate — although I can’t think of a better way to eliminate procrastination. However, you still feel an immense amount of pressure if you don’t get your work done.
You only have a limited amount of time each day, so make the most of it. Here are 12 time management tricks.
1. Rank Your Tasks
Remember the days of ranking your favorite Myspace friends? You can do the same thing with your tasks.
Rank your tasks by level of priority, effort and result. Complete each task in this order so you know what needs to be done first. Trust me, your ranking system will work much better for you than it did for Myspace.
2. Do Quick Tasks First
Does your to-do list never end? Put your scrolls away. This trick will have you crossing off tasks in no time.
If anything takes 10 minutes or less to complete, do it immediately. The fewer tasks you have on your to-do list, the more you can focus on important projects.
3. Get It Over With
Is a large task looming over your conscious? Get to work on it.
This task will stress you out until it’s done, which will impact your ability to focus on other tasks. Get the stressful task over with first so you don’t have to worry about it.
4. Stop Multitasking
Think you can get a few things done at the same time? Think again.
Multitasking decreases productivity by 40 percent. When you try to get more than one thing done, you’re just distracting yourself from the important task at hand. Focus on one task at a time.
5. Mix Up Your Work
Are you tired of doing the same work over and over again? Does this sound too much like a bad infomercial?
You waste more time when you’re dreading the work you have to do. Mix up your tasks throughout the day to keep the work fresh and more enjoyable.
6. Avoid Emails
Don’t look your inbox directly in the eyes, no matter how much it tempts you.
You could waste your entire day reading and responding to emails. Set a time near the end of the day where you can check and respond to all of your emails.
7. Take a Break
Yes, Hamilton fans: “Take a Break” is more than just a great song in Act Two. It’s also a helpful time management tip.
If you’re struggling with time management, then at some point of the day you aren’t focusing on your work. Maybe you’re thinking of a song or you feel the need to exercise. Take a quick break and get those distractions out of your head so you can focus on your work.
8. Say No
Woah! “Take a Break” is followed by “Say No (To This)”? I guess Hamilton really is full of time management tips.
You should only be spending your time on tasks that are valuable to you. If someone asks you to do something that’ll take you away from these vital tasks, don’t be afraid to say “no.”
9. Start Early
It’s easier to manage your time when you have more time to manage.
Wake up early and get started on your work. You face fewer distractions in the morning, and you’re giving yourself more time to get things done.
10. Be Prepared
Plan your day as accurately as possible. Be realistic. If you’re awake for 17 hours, don’t plan on working for 15. Also, be prepared for unexpected issues to come up. Have a plan and go with it.
11. Pick a Routine
Settle into a routine for maximum productivity. A routine will force you to manage your time. It provides structure, which will get you used to doing certain work at a particular time.
12. Get Started
Do you procrastinate because you hate the idea of working on something? You aren’t alone.
The best thing you can do is to get started. Once you’re working on a task you’ll realize it’s not as bad as you think. The best way to get it done is to get it over with.
The clock is always ticking, so get started on managing your time right now.
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