5 Tips for Effective Time Management

Time management is essential to productivity. It is something most people struggle with daily. It is incredibly easy to get distracted and lose track of time. Implementing time management skills will increase your productivity and allow you more downtime. Below is a list of 5 tips for effective time management.

Set Realistic Goals
Underestimating how long a task will take to complete can throw off your schedule. When making lists, allow extra time to complete tasks. It is more rewarding to finish a task early compared to late. The quality of work produced will improve if you avoid rushing and feeling overwhelmed. If you have extra free time, that's a bonus! You can use that time to start your next task or take some well-deserved self-care time. 

If you are unsure how long a specific task will take you, try time tracking. This is an effective method of gauging how much time you will need in the future. Assuming how long a task will take can cause a lot of frustration if the assumption is inaccurate. You can do this by writing the times down, using your smartphone timer, downloading a time tracking app, or keeping a mental note. Time tracking will help you determine what is taking up the majority of your time, as well as what you can get down quickly.

Make a List
Staying organized can be a struggle for the best of us. Writing down daily tasks and prioritizing them is a great way to stay on track. Seeing your tasks in front of you will help you stay mentally organized. You can make a paper list or use the notepad on your smartphone. If you're somebody who often loses things, try making a list and taking a picture of it!
Organize your list according to your priorities and the amount of time a task will take. For example, do not leave your biggest task to do late at night when you may be tired. Get the most daunting tasks done first, taking into consideration the urgency of your tasks. Set yourself up with weekly or daily lists every Sunday night or Monday morning. If you have a lot to accomplish throughout the week, make a daily list and cross off each task you complete. If you have a less robust list, make it weekly. 

Keep your lists short and to the point
Multiple lists can be an effective strategy if you have a broad range of tasks to complete. Compile your work tasks into one list and your personal tasks into another. This can extend to basic things as well, such as grocery lists. If you know what you are shopping for in advance, you can reduce your time in-store. P.S. this will also help you avoid buying items you don't need or didn't intend to purchase.

Take Breaks 
Taking breaks while working may seem counterproductive, but they save time in the long run. Breaks will allow you to clear your head, avoid frustration, and come up with new ideas. How you choose to use your break will depend on your preferences but make them short and sweet. 

Work breaks are a useful time management tool. Plan your breaks ahead of time and limit them to ten or fifteen minutes. If you have a lengthy project, try including one half-hour break. Use your breaks wisely by temporarily changing your train of thought. Coming back to your project refreshed will help you develop new ideas or see mistakes you missed previously. If you get too overwhelmed, the quality of your work may diminish without you realizing it. Your breaks could include taking a short walk, making a phone call, playing a quick game, eating a snack, stretching, or going outside for fresh air.

Avoid Distractions
Avoiding distractions may seem like the most obvious way to save time. Distractions can cause people to feel as if they are in a time vortex. A task that should generally take an hour to complete can take two or three hours if you are distracted. Even one-minute distractions add up and are best avoided. 
Taking breaks (mentioned above) will help reduce distractions. If you must use your phone, take a five-minute break every hour to check your phone. Avoid picking up your phone in-between your scheduled breaks. After the five minutes have passed, put your phone down until your next break. This method works for any type of distraction. Include this time in your time tracking (mentioned above) to help set realistic time goals. Make sure you have all the necessary supplies ready before starting work. If you have to get up to find a pen, you may also walk into the kitchen and decide you need a snack. Time goes by faster when you are focused and concentrating!

Reward Yourself
Once you have completed your daily or weekly checklist, reward yourself! You can simplify this even more by rewarding yourself after each task is completed. Do whatever works best for you. Rewards inspire motivation and increase productivity because there is a prize at the finish line! 

Rewarding yourself can be something small and simple, extravagant, or anywhere in-between. After scratching one task off your list, you could take an extended break and watch an episode of your favorite show. Setting milestones for yourself is also beneficial. An example is, after finishing half your essay, have a slice of cake. You can also work this method into your weekly goals but treating yourself to supper Sunday night. Free or budget-friendly goals are just as rewarding, such as reading a chapter of your favorite book. Whatever you pick, make it something you enjoy.

In conclusion, time management can be made easier by following these 5 useful tips. Set realistic goals for yourself, create lists, take breaks, avoid distractions, and reward yourself. Hard work pays off, but it doesn't have to seem challenging if you organize your time accordingly and prioritize your responsibilities. I hope you enjoyed reading these tips and can find ways to implement them into your daily routine. Comment below your favorite time management tips and tricks; let us know what works best for you!

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