There I was, another week past by and I couldn't remember a thing I accomplished that week. Just when I thought I applied the time management skills the right way, I wasted my time. Instead of managing my time, my time was managing me.
There was only one person to blame for all of this, and that was me. I let myself get distracted while I knew I had enough work to do. This resulted in a week full of frustration without a feeling of fulfillment. While I read about these time management skills before, I didn't apply them in the right way.
We all had that moment, the moment you realize you haven't done as much as you could do. You can read every book there is about time management skills, but if you don't use that knowledge, you wasted your time reading it in the first place.
Why You Should Develop Time Management Skills
You don't want to waste your time right? You shouldn't! To avoid wasting your time, you need tools or skills to help you. That's why time management skills exist, it's not just a fancy word to describe how good you are at managing time. No, these really are highly valuable skills that you need to train to make the most out of your time.
When you stop wasting your time (your life), you will feel better about yourself, and this will cause a domino effect on your and others' happiness.
So, read this article with that in mind. Knowing that you want to develop these skills to be able to create more happiness for yourself and those around you.
The 80/20 Rule
Also known as the Pareto principle, the 80/20 rule is one of the most well-known business management principles across the world. Richard Koch wrote the book The 80/20 Principle about how this principle can be applied to business. Now, what if I told you that this principle can also be used as one of many time management skills to get more done?
Twenty percent of your time spent results in eighty percent of the desired outcomes. Twenty percent of your clients will account for eighty percent of your income. If you have 10 items on your to-do list, two of them will be worth more than the other eight together.
To make sure you understand it correctly, think about the most critical actions you do that lead to most of the results. These are usually the actions people try to avoid because they require a lot of willpower or people are just not conscious of it.
Spending time on finding this twenty percent can result in a lot of saved time in the future. Think about what is it that you are trying to achieve and what is the best way to accomplish that?
Prioritizing activities that bring the most amount of positive results can be done in different ways. You can just make your to-do list and give them a number, the higher the number, the less critical the task. And you just work down the list. Or you can list the three most important tasks that have to get done to make sure you move forward. You could also use the ABCDE method of prioritization.
Whatever method you use, prioritizing tasks from high-value activities to low-value activities is essential among all time management skills. Try different ways but always make sure you know what the most critical task at the moment is and work towards it.
It can help to prioritize specific life areas over another. For example, you have to tackle a big project on a tight deadline for this new client, but your son has a football match to play, and you promised to watch. So, are you going to choose for your family (your son) over your business (big client)? Or maybe you could pull an all-nighter and do both (which will lead to a decline in health).
These dilemmas are hard to get past when you don't have your priorities in line. There are only 24 hours in a day, and we have to use it wisely.
Eliminate, Automate Or Delegate
Common problems entrepreneurs in startups face is that they want to do as much as they can on their own. Not because they like to do it but because they think they're best suited for the job, or they don't trust others to be part of the business yet. Of course, this doesn't only apply to them, there are many more situations where this could happen.
For example, a mom may not ask her daughter to fold cleaned clothes because the mom knows she can do it faster and better. But at the same time, the mother might be very busy with other things while the daughter plays games on her phone all day.
Everyone has things to do, but not all of them may be as important as you think. After you have prioritized your tasks you may even find a task on your to-do list that doesn't have to be completed at all or doesn't help you reach the goal you're after, eliminate tasks like that.
If you can't eliminate specific tasks because they simply have to be done, search for a way to simplify the task. If you can't simplify a task, try to automate it.
If you cannot automate a task delegate it to someone who can do it for you. If you can't delegate the task yet, do it. For example, training an assistant to read your financial numbers the way you read them and giving you the short conclusion you need to move forward.
You don't have to do every task by yourself, use your time wisely!
Plan Your Time
Something that may come naturally to some but to others like an entirely new skill is planning your time. Planning everything on your calendar beforehand, so you know exactly what to do. This is one of the basics of all time management skills as it doesn't require prioritization or anything like that. You can plan everything in your calendar without even knowing the importance of every task. That's why it's listed here, after the most essential time management skills. You can plan your time in two ways: per week or per day.
Whenever you plan your day, don't only plan in the things you have to do but also make time for yourself, your family, etc. You can't be working task to task without any rest, you're a human, not a robot.
Plan Your Week
When you plan your time per week, you need to keep in mind to be more flexible than when you plan your time per day. List all the tasks you have to complete in the coming week before the week starts. Put deadlines on the tasks that are time sensitive and put them in the right order of importance. Now, you just estimate how much time it's going to take and plan them for a particular day.
The reason why you need to be flexible with a weekly plan is that a lot can happen in one week. Maybe your prioritization changes or unexpected urgent tasks show up. When this happens, make sure to reflect on the time management skills and adjust your schedule accordingly.
Plan Your Day
Planning your day the night before or in the morning is a common ritual a lot of successful people do, like Brian Tracy. Knowing what the most critical tasks are on a specific day and how much time they cost you makes you more conscious of the use of your time.
Usually, when you take time to write down the tasks for the following day, you immediately know which tasks are the most important. Ask yourself this: what action am I the most afraid of taking?
This is usually the most crucial task at the moment, the task that will move you forward the most. Maybe even the ten percent task that will result in ninety percent of your desired outcomes.
Most people don't even think about focus when they think about time management skills. Professor Cal Newport stresses the importance of deep work (being in the flow of work) that is needed to achieve real results. Focusing only on the task at hand without distractions might be the best thing you can ever do. It's not even one of the top time management skills but more like common sense.
If you can't even focus on the task, you are working on right now. How will you ever know that you used your time wisely? Image CC0, by Bev, via Pixabay[/caption]
Having a hard time focusing on one task at a time? Use the Pomodoro technique, which means in short: dividing work into intervals of 25 minutes of work and five minutes of rest. After completing a set number of these intervals, you take a more extended break.
This way you will keep your mind fresh and focused without giving up any quality of work. It ensures that you not only work hard but also smart.
How To Apply The Time Management Skills
Before I planned this week, I came up with a new way of dividing my schedule to my needs. I plan my days in with two hours of work followed by one hour of rest until I have completed eight hours of total work per day. I like to take longer brakes instead of short breaks, it allows me to get into the state of flow.
What works for me, may not work for you. That's why there are five time management skills in this article instead of only one.
Choose or experiment with the principle you think fits you the most. And see how it improves your experience with time management skills. Before you take off and use one of these time management skills in your life (for real). You should know one thing about applying this to your life:
Success comes from repeated actions you take consistently. If you want to master something, you will have to train every day for it. Commit to applying one principle consistently for a specified period of time, and the results will come.