Guide to Time Management
It's common to have a number of both professional and personal tasks that must be done every day for success. Regardless of whether you have schoolwork to complete or you are a professional with a career, you will have daily tasks that must be completed on deadline. Managing tasks and being productive takes organization and effort, but with a little planning, success is attainable. Using well-thought-out goals and ongoing effort to complete your objectives, you can manage all of your responsibilities.
Putting Together a Plan
Conventional wisdom states that an absence of a plan is a plan to fail. Thus, the first step toward achieving goals is to make a detailed plan. After stating your goals or objectives, you can easily visualize the overall work. The next step involves breaking the main goal into a series of smaller goals that you can complete. The smaller goals usually feel more manageable, and it's easy to begin adding them to your daily or weekly to-do lists. Over a short time, you can assess your progress to see how much of your overall goal is being achieved.
- Creating a Daily To-Do List (PDF): Make a new to-do list for each day and break down tasks, listing them in prioritized order.
- Five Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective: It's important to keep a to-do list focused in order to keep your project moving forward.
- The Power of To-Do Lists: To-do lists can vary in style, depending on personal preferences. Options include a prioritized list, a quadrant list with categories such as "urgent" and "important," and a daily list.
- Why Make a To-Do List Every Day? Making a daily to-do list helps reduce stress because you don't have to remember tasks you have to complete each day.
- Time-Management Tips: Brainstorming all tasks to complete and writing them down helps provide you with a direction for accomplishing your work.
Setting Priorities for Tasks and Assignments
Anyone with a busy to-do list understands that some tasks are more important than others. Setting priorities ensures that you complete the most important tasks first. By assessing your to-do list and making priorities, you won't over-schedule yourself. Staying organized and allowing enough time to complete your designated tasks is an integral component of an effective to-do list.
- 10 Strategies for Better Time Management (PDF): Setting priorities involves deciding what is urgent and what is less important. Determining the difference between urgent and important can be difficult, but it's key to use your time to get the most critical tasks done first.
- How to Manage Time and Set Priorities: Creating a daily, weekly, and monthly to-do list helps you figure out your priorities so you can focus.
- Setting Priorities: When the scope of a project, the time you have to do it, and the budget don't all align, it's important to prioritize these elements to keep the overall project manageable.
- A Better Way to Set Strategic Priorities: Setting priorities means making conscious decisions about what you do and what you don't do so you can achieve your short- and long-term goals.
- Setting Priorities: What's Important to You? Without clear priorities, it can be easy to get distracted by activities that waste time and take you away from your goals.
Goal-Setting and Achieving Those Goals
Without goals, days can pass without much getting accomplished. Set both short- and long-term goals to ensure that you stay on track with your overall objectives. Short-term goals are often tasks that you can complete within days or a few weeks. Long-term goals can be set years in advance, but it helps to keep these big ideas in mind as you go through your days. Short-term goals are often a part of long-term goals.
- Goal-Setting 101: Why SMART Goals Are Important to Project Success: Taking a few minutes to set clear, measurable goals and objectives can help keep a project moving forward and get it done on time.
- Create a Plan and Set Goals: If a goal is large, you can break it into smaller sub-goals to make the tasks less overwhelming.
- Creating Objectives: Stating goals and objectives in the form of a mission statement can help you focus on formulating a plan to achieve them.
- Setting Goals and Developing Action Plans (PDF): An effective goal, whether personal or professional, needs to be specific. Set a deadline with a goal, and track your progress as you work to achieve it.
- How to Set SMART Goals: Goals can be performance-related, based on accomplishing tasks, or they can be development-related, helping you to learn and advance.
Deadlines can be extremely helpful for maintaining accountability. Deadlines may be self-imposed or externally imposed. When you have external deadlines, you will need to adhere to them to ensure a good outcome. Self-imposed deadlines can be an effective way to keep yourself on track as you work toward your goals. If you have a large school or work project, you might break it down into smaller parts and impose personal deadlines for each as you work to complete the full project.
- Dealing With Deadlines: The first step toward managing deadlines is to determine what they are. Next, you must figure out exactly what tasks you need to do to meet deadlines, so you can make a schedule for accomplishing each step.
- Setting Realistic Deadlines: Realistic estimations of the time it takes to complete parts of a project are crucial for setting manageable deadlines.
- Using Deadlines Strategically: Setting deadlines can be an effective way to increase your productivity because you'll have a specific timetable that pushes you to complete the work.
- Getting Organized: Tips for Meeting Deadlines: It can be helpful to set extra deadlines to keep your work moving forward; give tasks a "soft" deadline and a "drop-dead" deadline to make sure that they get done.
- The Art of Timeliness: Tips to Help Entrepreneurs Meet Deadlines: Setting deadlines gives you a specific parameter for completing work, which helps you stay on task to get jobs done.
Create Good Habits Through Daily Routine
A daily routine is an important part of productivity. Creating good daily habits helps you stay focused as you work and can alleviate stress. A daily routine that incorporates both work and personal time helps prevent burnout because it keeps you from overworking yourself.
- Habits and Routines: Forming good habits is an integral part of achieving goals.
- Automate Good Habits and Create Templates (PDF): Positive automated behaviors are actions that you perform with little thought. By automating these actions, you make it more likely that you will get things done.
- The Importance of Routine: Part of a good daily routine is creating a work area where you can work or study without distractions.
- Healthy Habits at Work: Healthy habits at work can include moving around physically throughout the day, taking time to eat healthy meals and snacks, and taking breaks to reduce stress.
- Why Routines Are Helpful: A daily routine helps reduce stress. You can also implement a routine to help you break negative habits, replacing them with better ones.
It's common for people who procrastinate to feel like they are lazy. However, procrastination is a negative habit that you can change. To avoid procrastination, keep detailed to-do lists that document all goals and projects. If you find yourself avoiding some tasks, examine the reasons behind this avoidance. You may discover underlying reasons such as not having enough information to complete a project or not having the required skills, which you can then try to address. Creating to-do lists, staying accountable, and addressing any issues can help you avoid procrastination.
- Just Do it: Tips for Avoiding Procrastination (PDF): To end a habit of procrastination, you might try breaking up a large project into smaller portions to make it feel more manageable.
- How to Avoid Procrastination and Burnout When Writing: Making a detailed to-do list is often the first step to avoiding procrastination. If any tasks feel insurmountable, explore the specific things that feel unmanageable and the reasons why so you can solve these problems.
- Overview of Procrastination: Procrastination is a universal problem often tied to undesirable tasks that need to be done. Procrastination is not synonymous with laziness or inefficiency. Rather, it is a habit that can be unlearned.
- How to Avoid Procrastination: Recognizing a proclivity to procrastinate is the first step to breaking this habit. Once you are aware of the tendency, you can make efforts to manage your time differently.
- Avoiding Procrastination: Setting goals and instituting deadlines are two ways to fight procrastination.
Miscellaneous Time-Management Resources
- How to Stop Procrastinating: Sometimes, reminding yourself of the consequences that will come of procrastination can help you stay focused and productive.
- Time-Management Skills: Think of time as a resource that you don't want to waste. Planning your day is an effective way to minimize waste of valuable minutes.
- Time-Management Tips for Busy Adult Students: Taking care of your physical health with exercise is an important component of reaching goals successfully.
- How to Manage Your Time Effectively: Discover what's keeping you from getting things done with a simple questionnaire, then take steps to address these areas.
- Improve Your Efficiency: Examine your daily activities to understand how you typically spend your time. After you track your time, you can find ways to eliminate distractions and unnecessary activities.
- Tips for Managing Your Time: Completing the most difficult or unpleasant tasks first is often effective because this enables you to finish these things while you have the most energy.
- Smart Ways for Managers to Improve Time Management: Group similar tasks together so you can focus on one type of action at a time. For example, someone working in integrated workers' compensation could make all phone calls at the same time and answer emails together.
- Time-Management Tips: Create a specific workspace and institute a work or study routine for the most productivity.
- Eight Ways to Take Control of Your Time: Take work with you when you are away from home so you can use any downtime to complete tasks on your to-do list.
- Tips for Effective Time Management: Compartmentalizing your day into blocks for specific tasks can help you get everything done effectively.