We have all felt overwhelmed at one time or another by hectic work schedules, family responsibilities, and social engagements. However, learning to manage your time wisely can reduce – or even eliminate – much of the day-to-day chaos.
We all have the same number of hours in the day. How we choose to use that time is what is most important. Many businesspeople do not commit to their goals and priorities in writing, which can lead to a lack of adequate time for business planning and personal development.
The first step in managing your time more effectively is to decide what you want to achieve - your goals. Then, list and prioritize your activities by identifying critical deadlines, items that create value, routine tasks, and relaxation activities. From there you can refine your schedule, which is the list of daily tasks that will ultimately help you reach your goals.
Once your new time management strategy is in place, here are nine tips to keep things running smoothly:
- Contract out tasks and delegate when possible. Focus your time and energy on the activities that create the most value.
- Start your day with the most troublesome task. Getting the hard things out of the way early gives you a sense of achievement and allows you more flexibility to handle unexpected requests that may arise.
- Complete deadline work early. The old saying “never put off until tomorrow what you can do today” rings true. If you have time to get future deliverables off your plate today, you will be in better shape tomorrow.
- Know your capacity for stress. Have a plan for what to do when you reach your limit.
- Stay organized. It will save you countless hours of precious time in the long run.
- Take advantage of down time. Sometimes you will find yourself with an unexpected free hour or day. Embrace the opportunity and use that time to recharge your batteries.
- Engage in physical activities. Staying active keeps you energized, alert, and better able to roll with the punches.
- Allocate your time between professional and personal. Many professionals make the mistake of dedicating an excessive amount of time to the business. Start by reserving 25 percent of your time for yourself.
- Build flexibility into your schedule. You can never predict the unexpected issues or opportunities that inevitably arise. Keep some free time available so you are ready and able to tackle a changing to-do list.
Make sure you have time for the important things by keeping your schedule focused on the daily tasks that will help you reach your goals. Kreischer Miller’s Time Management Diagnostic is a useful tool to help you reflect on the way you currently invest your time and how to maximize your return on that investment.