Good time management allows you to work smarter, not harder. By organising your time, and planning ahead of time how to best divide your time between jobs that need doing, you can work a lot more effectively and efficiently.   And get a lot more done as well.

One of the first steps in effective time management is recognising that you do have a time management problem. And that you need to change your behaviour patterns if you want to make better, more efficient use of your time. Being late on the odd occasion happens to the best of us; unavoidable things happen. However, making a habit of it is a sign of poor time management skills.

Once you’ve identified that you have problems with managing your time effectively you must be willing to change.   If you’re not prepared to do that you’ll never be able to manage your time better. You’ll just continue throughout life missing deadlines, being late for everything, and only getting half the things done in your life that you wanted to do.

One way of doing this is to make time management goals for yourself. Goals help to motivate you. And they help you keep better track of where you’re at progress wise. Time management goals could include making sure you’re not late for work for an entire month. Or that you’re on time for your next 10 social fixtures. By the time that month is up you’ll have already put in place some of the processes needed to achieve the goals, which is half the battle.

Having made your goals, you then have to make the decision to stick with them. We’ve all had those times when good intentions fly out the window at the first hurdle. Or we give up because it’s just too hard to get up that little bit earlier in the morning to ensure we’re not late for work. Make the goals then commit to achieving them, whatever it takes.

A lot of people find it helps to create daily ‘to do’ lists. This is actually a very simple, very basic, very effective approach to time management.   Not only do these lists give you a guide to follow throughout the day, but the action of drawing them up helps you focus on exactly what you do and don’t need to do. Prioritise the tasks. Important ones first, less important ones down the list. Then as you complete each task tick it off. The sense of accomplishment at the end of the day when everything on the list is ticked off gives you a real buzz. As opposed to climbing into bed that night and thinking ‘what have I actually done with my day today! I know I was busy but what have I achieved to show for it?’   Furthermore, there’s nothing like feeling you’ve achieved something worthwhile to keep you motivated and on track.

Get yourself organised. How many times have you gone to do something only to find you can’t find a piece of paper or a file you need. Or your car keys. You can spend endless amounts of valuable time looking for things.   That’s a hugely unproductive waste of your time. Having a place for everything with everything in its place so you can put your hands on it straight away is a key component in successful time management.

Employ time management tools to give you a hand. If you’ve sent yourself a time frame in which to do a particular job, set an alarm so you know when that time is up. It gives you a sense of urgency that the job needs to be completed before the alarm goes off.   And once the time is up, move on to the next item on the list. Jobs like checking emails, checking social media accounts and so on can all be managed like this. Allocate half an hour for each one then move on. Otherwise you’ll still be checking emails when you’re meant to be doing other things and wondering why you haven’t done half the things on your list. Most mobile phones and computers these days come with built in alarm clocks, calendars, planners and other time management tools. Use them!

It’s OK to say no! If your schedule is full and you can’t physically fit anything more into your day don’t take on more responsibilities. Or else consider getting someone to help. This may mean getting someone in to clean the house for you, or delegating some work to someone else. The mindset that if you want it done properly you have to do it yourself is usually the enemy of effective time management.

Get professional help from time management specialists if you can’t see your way clear to sorting out your time on your own.

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