Here we are again. If you’re like us, you’re thinking, “How is it already the end of December?” This time of year is often full of to-do lists, travel plans, and hopefully time spent with family and friends. As wonderful as some of that may be, it can be hard to find time to keep up with your daily tasks, such as work, homework, or your training plan.
Enter time management. Time management skills are essential for your life skills arsenal. Whether you’re an athlete, a business executive, a performer, a student, or a parent balancing work and home, effective time management skills can help you cross off those To-Do List tasks with the added bonus of maintaining your sanity.
7 Successful Time Management Tips
Identify what works for you. Are you a night owl? An early bird Do you like to give yourself time to complete something little by little, or do you work best with a looming deadline? Recognize your ideal working conditions and keep those in mind as you plan when to get things done.
Identify – and prioritize – your tasks. Taking some time on the front end to be thoughtful and identify what you need to get done is an investment well worth your time (get it..?!). Even if you’re feeling pressed for time, those few minutes will help you create your checklist or your goals, which will keep you on track, and ultimately save you time. Once you’ve recognized what needs to get done, prioritize. Do some tasks need to be completed before others can get done? Are some on earlier deadlines? Make a plan for which to tackle first and go from there.
Write them down. Write them on a piece of paper, in your phone, or in your planner. Besides the fact that it organizes your thoughts and gives you a tangible reference, it also provides the opportunity to feel that wonderful feeling of crossing off a task (or is that just me?)!
Break them down. Once you’ve written them down, see which tasks need to be broken down into smaller steps. If some require multiple steps or tasks to complete them, make sure you identify what they are and work them into your plan.
Create a timeline. Next to your tasks, give yourself deadlines, and break those deadlines down into smaller check points along the way. If you’re working on a 10-page paper, know your final deadline, and set a goal for when you want to complete 5 pages and 7 pages, for example. This will keep you on track and keep you motivated as you hit your smaller goals. Make sure you’re realistic with your timelines and decide when you’ll work on things. Be honest with yourself (see #1!) and set yourself up for success.
Take breaks to recharge. Besides one friend I had in graduate school who procrastinated to no end and then worked like a ninja until her deadlines (you know who you are if you’re reading this!), people need to take breaks to recharge. Even if you’re feeling the pressure of the clock, taking a short break, a day off, or whatever suits your situation, can energize you and invigorate your creativity. In the end, you’ll find these breaks well worth the time.
Reward yourself. Reward yourself when you check off a task. No matter how big or small, achieving a goal is an accomplishment you should acknowledge. Perhaps you simply take a moment to tell yourself, “Nice job!” Or if you’re like me, you might reach for some chocolate. Whatever works for you, taking a moment to be mindful of your accomplishment fuels your motivation and just plain makes you feel good.
As this year quickly comes to a close and we welcome a new year, keep these tips in mind to master your time management.