why is time management importanta

Time Management Tips You Need to Know

As you know, we all have the same 24 hours, 7 days a week. But some people are much better at managing their time than others. This post gives you time management tips that can help yourself.

Years ago, my mentor had me take a Priority Management tool. It showed that I struggled with time management—no big surprise to either of us.

My mentor, however, is a left-brained engineer who manages details beautifully. He told me I needed to take a time management course. When I got done laughing, I said, “No thanks.”

I am firmly convinced that most time management courses are designed for people like him–people who make schedules months in advance and manage their time with no effort. I’ve taken those regular time management courses and they just don’t work with my brain.

Therefore, I’ve spent years collecting time management tips to help me manage my time and workload. I share these tips with love for people who also struggle with time management.

Tip #1. Know what time of day you’re at your best

Are you a morning person or a night owl? Our energy levels are guided by our circadian rhythms.

I’m a morning person. I am at my best between 5 and 10 a.m. By 3 p.m., my brain is pretty tired. My husband is an owl. His body clock doesn’t get really going until late morning. Over 30 years of marriage, we’ve learned to balance who does what according to those rhythms. And it has worked well.

Classroom trainers and course developers know that there are three times when participants are likely to fall asleep or check out.

  • 10:30-11:00 a.m.
  • 1:30-2:00 p.m.
  • 3-3:30 p.m.

Therefore, they schedule activities during those times to keep people’s energy up. If you are ever asked to be a speaker, avoid those times or you may find your participants dozing off.

Key to mastering how you manage your time and energy is to recognize when you are sharpest. That’s the time to take on the most challenging tasks. Leave other tasks to do when you are more tired.

Check out these links for more information on how you can make your energy work for you, not against you.
Harvard Business Review article
The Energy Project

2. Remove distractions

This means shut down your email, turn off your phone, and close your office door if you have one. If you don’t have an office, is there a workroom or an empty office you can use that will allow you to shut out others?

This one time management tip has dramatically improved my ability to focus. I had one project that took 2.5 weeks because I removed distractions. Had I not, the project easily could have taken a month.

The ONE Thing really helped me build my muscles in this area.

Tip #3. Break projects into steps or phases

Some people find themselves overwhelmed when facing a big project. They find themselves paralyzed, figuratively, and are unable to get anything done. Thus, they put off starting and find themselves smack up against a deadline. Their anxiety keeps them up at night, which makes them even less efficient.

Take that project and break it down into steps, phases, or milestones. Map out what you have to do to meet objectives in each phase. Then focus totally on those objectives only. If you need to break a phase into smaller parts, do that. Don’t let the project overwhelm you before you even get started.

Tip #4. Prioritize your to-do list

This sounds so simple, but it isn’t simple for lots of folks. Do you start on the big task first or start with small tasks so that you can see some progress?

Think of this as if you were paying off credit cards. Some people start by paying down the card with the highest interest rate, even if that’s the biggest balance. For other people, they start by paying down the credit card with the lowest balance, so they can get to a win faster. Small wins can give you momentum to take on the bigger balance.

Another question to consider is what tasks need to be accomplished by a particular time, say by noon today? Obviously, you focus on those immediate tasks and leave others for the next go-around.

What tasks can you do by yourself and what tasks do you need a coworker to contribute to? If your coworker also struggles with time management, that’s going to have an impact on you. Remember, though, you can only control you, not your coworker or others.

And very importantly, if your boss tells you he wants something done NOW, do it. Don’t be like Joshua.

Tip #5. Organize yourself

Are you a filer or a piler? Do you file paperwork in a system so you know where you can find it when you need to? Or do you work surrounded by piles of paper, yet you can quickly put your hands on whatever you need when you need it?

I’m a piler. I’ve tried filing things in folders on or in my desk. I then forget the folder even exists, and I go crazy trying to find a document that I am sure I kept.

When I worked at the Government Accountability Office, before they went digital, the evaluators kept everything in well-organized notebooks. They could find anything at the drop of a hat.

When I started coaching executives, I tried having a folder for each client. That quickly became inefficient. So, I created a 3-ring notebook for each client. All my notes went in my copy of that client’s notebook. So did copies of any info I gave the client. I could always find what I needed in each client’s notebook. I also created a notebook for the client so he/she could keep track of our work.

For me, using notebooks helps me stay organized.

For more ideas on time management that fit your particular style, check out these books.
Getting Things Done

Time Management for Unmanageable People

Email me and let me know which time management tips help you become more efficient.

© Pamela A. Scott, 2016

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