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How to Manage Your Time: A Time Management Guide

Updated on October 30, 2016

The goal for managing time properly is to help a person to keep up with everyday tasks and to not be late. It’s impossible to find additional hours in a day, but you can organize your time accurately and make it work for you.

Time management has been studied in recent times in the psychology sector with the intention to teach a person to separate their main task from a secondary one. Self-management specialist Lothar J. Seiwert claims “Those who plan their working day within 10 minutes regularly, save up to 2 hours a day and handle their tasks better”.

Of course, organizing a working day is much simpler for those who have a monotonous lifestyle compared to those with a range of tasks to complete throughout the day. For instance, let’s say you just started to do something important. A common interruption could be that the phone starts to ring or that you start to look through your email and obsessively check your social media accounts. All of these factors use up your daily quota of time allotted for any given day.

As a consequence, you constantly feel busy, but time is not spent on completing the necessary tasks. This results in feeling stressed as you start to feel the pressure of the actual workload building up. This is why all of this can be avoided by using a small amount of your day to plan with a simple to-do list to achieve your goals each day.

Your time needs a plan

The main tool to be productive with your time is via planning. Try to write down your plans and thoughts, possibly on your phone or on a sticky note, and keep them in sight. This way you’ll be automatically thinking over and systematizing your tasks as the notes will target your thoughts back on track.

We can break down the concept of planning in the form of long-term and short-term planning. Long-term planning is where a list of tasks should be accomplished in a week or two while short-term planning has to be implemented within one day.

Short-term planning requires you to determine the main task(s) for the next day and so a good time would be before you go to sleep. Having a clear understanding of the type of tasks to complete will help you think of how you can try to tackle each goal and thus you feel much more prepared even before the day has begun.

The next step is to determine your long-term plans. Think about the things you need to get done or achieve this week. Write them all down – from the easiest to the hardest task. These can range from wishing your friend a happy birthday, buying groceries, paying utility bills, etc. Making a to-do list for the week will allow you to have an understanding of the tasks required for completion and you will be able to realize whether you have completed the task or not.

Selecting the most important tasks

Sometimes it can be a good idea to write down all the tasks that come to mind. Afterward, you can select a subset of tasks from the weekly plan and combine them with your daily flow of work. Some examples could include the following for a to-do list: helping your child with their homework, reading a book, repairing a cupboard in the kitchen, looking for a job on the internet, etc. Remember to order your tasks based on priority, starting with tasks that are easy to complete to more time costly ones.

Having determined which tasks are the most important, number them. There should be no more than 2 or 3 such tasks. Try to evaluate a time span for each point for when you’re going to implement this or for other tasks. In a daily list, most things are going to be fixed in time, i.e. routine work. Accustom yourself to do them within a fixed timeframe, and then they’ll become a habitual part of your daily routine. Some examples include: doing a morning exercise before breakfast, having lunch at the same time every day or simply having a break for 15 minutes after each task.

It is also important to note that after composing a plan for the day, you may notice that some tasks can be done simultaneously, like cooking dinner and repairing a cupboard, or doing the washing and reading a book.

Conclusion

In order to have a balanced life, it is essential to plan and manage your time. Give it a try and notice for yourself how your health, self-education and building and maintaining relationships to name a few, all improve as the day's progress. Treat your life like an investment with your time being analogous to money. Spend your money on activities that allow you to grow your wealth and in the same way, spend your time on completing tasks that are most important to you.

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    • CKleidis profile image

      Charidimos Kleidis 11 months ago from Athens, Greece

      Hearing a friend’s advice, I composed a 2x2 table which helps me categorize the tasks according to urgency (urgent - not urgent) and importance (important - not important). This helps me stay on top of responsibilities and not drag myself behind them.

      The logic of the table is that there are really important but not urgent tasks. Like spending time with my parents, which would happen rarely if I was overwhelmed by other tasks at hand. On the other hand, there are urgent but unimportant tasks, like responding to a social message on time, not three days later. Of course, there are urgent and important tasks, like most of the responsibilities of managing a house but none which are neither urgent, nor important (or they wouldn't make it in the list). All in all, with this table I can allocate my time so that I get more tasks done, without stressing over deadlines that I intended to remember, but don’t.

      Just a friendly piece of advice. Keep in mind that a list, no matter the form, is a tool, not a necessity. Filling the list with tasks and erasing them can actually become stressful and addictive.