Is there any need for another article about time management for beginners? The Internet is full of online courses, YouTube videos, and blog posts related to time management. A new article is redundant – bloggers and experts have already covered everything in this area. So why did we published a new article?
First, there’s no need to mention that we face a terrible pandemic that changed our manner of work. Many people are now working from home and it changed all their work schedules.
Second, this article is like a confession. We tested all the tips below – it’s not just a collection of ideas found on similar blog posts.
Third, plenty of people don’t manage their time properly. We hope that this article will raise a question mark for most of you, and perhaps a few readers will apply the following suggestions.
You can read dozens of articles and sign up for a bunch of classes about mastering your time. All these efforts are in vain if you don’t have the inner will needed to improve your way of working. Time management isn’t rocket science, it’s just a way of making you a more effective person. Most of the ideas are known by every one of us. Still, only a bunch of us have the inner determination to pass over the guilty pleasure of procrastination. Before spending time learning more about time management, you’d better be honest with yourself. Are you enough committed to focusing more on your work? Would you accept reducing the time spent chatting or watching TikTok videos? People who master their time aren’t smarter, they are just motivated to become more efficient.
Let’s suppose that you are 100% committed to better administering your time. Next, you should determine your current time management skills. Write down on paper or use an app to keep track of your activities. Repeat this process for a week or two. You need a clear evaluation to understand your weak points.
Personal story: I have used RescueTime and my physical agenda for the initial audit. My stats frightened me – even though I sat in my chair for eight or nine hours, I wasted almost half of this time! Suddenly, I realized that I am a professional time waster and I should fix this problem. Keep track of the time you spend on social media – you will be amazed by how much time you misuse chatting and scrolling through Instagram.
Once you’ve finished your audit, it’s time for action! Set up a few goals because these will help you observe your evolution. The goals must be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. It’s capital to chose the proper goals. You will miss goals that are too optimistic, and this will have a negative impact on your morale. Small goals may give you a sense of pride when you achieve them, but it’s not a winning move in the long term. Generally speaking, a good goal takes you out of your comfort zone.
Personal story: One of my goals for 2021 is to learn more about cloud computing. It’s a huge area with massive implications for many industries. Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services are the biggest players in the cloud computing arena. Learning cloud computing isn’t a measurable goal, but getting a certificate from each of the three cloud computing giants is measurable. I allocated four months for each cloud provider; Google Cloud Platform is the first on my list. I dedicated at least 30 minutes a day to studying and testing the Google offering.
This is not to brag about me, but to show you how you should set up strategic goals and divide them into small, measurable, time-bound objectives.
A client’s work has a higher priority than reading an outstanding piece of content. Taking a good nap is more important than watching an episode of your favorite Netflix series. In fact, every activity in our lives has a priority. If you want to master your time, learning how to prioritize is imperative.
Do you believe that setting up priorities will take too much time? Eisenhower Matrix is the simplest and most efficient method for prioritizing tasks. It worked for a USA president who served as an Air Force general, so it may work for you too. The essence of the matrix is to prioritize the tasks depending on their urgency and importance.
The Eisenhower Matrix suggests you delegate the tasks that are urgent, but not important. Some people, myself included, want to have full control over each piece of work delivered to clients. It’s not a bad approach, but it doesn’t allow you to grow. We are humans, and our resources and work time are limited. As long as a day is 24 hours for each and every one of us, you don’t have any solution to grow your business but to delegate some tasks.
Block Out Distractions
It’s so simple to say “block out distractions”, but it can be very challenging to put into practice. I have used StayFocusd browser extension to track my time and block distractions. These small distractions may not seem like they have a big impact on your working time, but you will change your mind once you start tracking them. Besides that, distractions affect your productivity. It’s not easy to fully focus on editing a snippet of code while chatting with a friend.
Breaks Are as Important as Work
We block out distractions to ensure we focus on our work but working non-stop isn’t the solution either. Humans aren’t robots; our productivity isn’t linear, it has ups and downs. It is essential to take breaks. This helps us to be inspired and productive. Schedule breaks into your workflow or else you will face burnout or even develop mental illnesses.
Personal workflow: I can’t write intensely for more than 25-30 minutes. I tried to work longer periods of time, but I still didn’t manage. Hence, I take a five-minute break after every 30 minutes of work. Doing a few pushups or some stretching would be awesome to do during these breaks. You kill two birds with one stone.
I can have the same schedule for many days in a row, but from time to time I need a weekend break. On average, I spend time in nature, visit another city, or enjoy binging on Netflix for a weekend once a month. The only requirement is to stay away from my work. I am ultra-productive after a weekend break. Perhaps it will work for you, too.
Exercise and Sleep
Paradoxically, you won’t have more time by skipping exercise and sleeping less. Certainly, you save some time in the short term, but this decision is a massive disaster in the long term. Mastering your time is strictly connected to your efficiency and you can’t be efficient without enough sleep and moderate physical activity. In short, don’t worry that you sleep eight hours per night and spend a few hours a week exercising. It matters what you do the rest of the time!
Use the Waiting Time
You commute, wait in line, or do daily chores. Don’t waste this time and do something useful for yourself. Listen to a podcast, a tutorial, or read books and blog posts when you have to wait. It’s a simple and useful trick, but imagine that by optimizing your waiting time you read a book or two a year. Not bad, isn’t it?
Gently Say “NO”
It’s hard for everyone to say No, not just you! We associate refusal with not being polite, but it’s not correct. Instead of delivering poor services or products, a polite No is better for both sides. Time is limited and you can’t accomplish all the clients’ work. You don’t have a choice if you want to control your work time so learn to say No without regrets.
Over to You
I emphasize that the above time management tips worked for me and many other people. Altogether, it’s possible that these won’t work for you! We are all different and we should accept this fact to improve how we handle our time. You won’t ever know whether these work for you unless you apply them. Chances are that at least one suggestion will work for you, and that’s a step further in your quest to get more from your time. Just reading this article is useless – you must act right now!
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