Everyone wakes up and knows that they have to get something done. Whether that thing is cleaning the house, finishing an essay or leading a presentation at work, there are steps everyone has to take to check their job off their to-do list — like time management techniques.
That means that on some level, everyone has time management techniques they use every day. If you’ve ever felt like you could accomplish more with your time, those techniques may not be working for you.
Read on to learn about time management techniques you may be using that don’t work and how to change that so you’re knocking your goals out of the park every single day.
1. Spend Time “Planning”
When you first get a project that you have to complete, your first instinct may be to pencil in some time to plan it all out. Unless you have super planning skills, this probably means you put things off and procrastinate, even if you don’t want to.
Procrastination is something that everyone struggles with, even if you set deadlines for yourself that are only a day away. Sometimes it feels easier to put wait until the last minute to do something, even claiming that it makes your work better.
Instead: Set Tiny Goals
You may still need time to plan out your work and that’s okay! Just don’t waste that time by waiting around. Instead, set tiny goals for yourself that also help you plan.
Depending on your deadline, tiny goals could look something like this:
- Day 1: Break up the project into pieces.
- Day 2: Develop each piece of the project.
- Day 3: Put the developed pieces together.
- Day 4: Make final edits.
Taking your project apart will keep procrastination at bay because you won’t feel intimated by a huge project.
2. Set Your Clock Ahead
Some people set their clocks five or ten minutes ahead so they get ready for their day faster. Even if they’re running behind according to their clock, they’ll still arrive on time to wherever they need to go. Except if you’ve done this and you’re still late most of the time, this technique isn’t exactly working for you.
Instead: Set Alarms
It’s easy to forget the time if you’re not reminding yourself to look at your clock. That’s why setting five minute alarms will get you going. Once you’re out the door, they can be turned off until tomorrow.
3. Work Hour by Hour
Your life may have you running from the moment you wake up in the morning. Some people with this kind of lifestyle divide up their day by hours, working for an hour on a certain project before moving onto something else.
Switching up your work every hour may relieve your mind from focusing on one thing all day, but you still end up going home exhausted every night.
Instead: Take Breaks
Taking breaks has been shown to improve concentration. Work for forty-five minutes and then take a ten minute break. Repeat throughout the day, so your brain really gets that break you’re looking for.
4. Finish Things by Deadlines
Deadlines are arguably the most important part of any project, so you may decide what to start first by seeing which deadline is the closest. It’s important to keep deadlines in mind while you work, but they shouldn’t necessarily dictate what you spend your time on.
Instead: Finish Projects by Size
Look at what deadlines are approaching first and divide up the biggest projects into tiny pieces. Then start working on those pieces by tackling the small stuff first. As you work, the small stuff will build into bigger things, resulting in easier finished projects.
5. Work All Night
Anyone who’s gone to college knows that there’s a hero status for anyone who claims they spent all night studying in the library. Even though that person feels like a zombie the next day, at least they got their work done. Right?
What that self-proclaimed night owl probably turned in wasn’t an example of their best work. Just their fastest work. That’s why this strategy never results in anything that has good quality.
Instead: Get Your Sleep
Studies have shown that if you get a full night’s sleep, you manage your time better. You wake up with a clear head, ready to work. Even taking naps helps, as long as they’re power naps and not an excuse you use to sleep the day away.
6. Accept More Work
Some people believe that if they accept more work, good things will happen. Coworkers will see them as more reliable and their boss may think they deserve a promotion because they work so hard.
In reality, accepting additional work on top of what you already have to do is just draining and leaves you panicked about deadlines at the end of the day.
Instead: Learn to Say No
It’s great to want to help out and even prove yourself in the classroom or workplace, but not when you’re stretched so thin that your time management is more of a panic mode.
Instead, learn to say no when you’ve reached your limit. It’ll take time and practice, but you’ll find the right amount of work where you can manage your time and get plenty of work done during the day.
7. Use Social Media Breaks
After working super hard for a determined length of time, maybe you reward yourself with a few minutes on social media. Browsing through pictures and tweets can be relaxing for a tense mind, but it’s also an easy way to let time slip away from you.
You might find yourself looking up from your phone and realizing that too much time has passed. Or you could lapse more often into breaks that are more of a habit than a reward.
Instead: Block Out Distractions
What is your biggest distraction that disrupts your time? Turn your phone off, disconnect from the internet while you write your paper or even wear soundproof headphones so you don’t instinctively look up every time someone’s phone dings. Then you can reward yourself with actual breaks, because you’ll be focused on working hard.
Try to Stay Flexible with Time Management Techniques
When you’ve been using certain time management techniques for a while, it’s difficult to see and admit that they aren’t working like they once did.
Try to stay flexible and try different time management techniques during the day. You’ll find what works best and accomplish what you want to get done every day.
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