For most people, there never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done that they need to do. Between their work schedules, taking their children to their extracurricular activities, and getting chores at home done, there usually isn’t any time left over, and some things get pushed to the side.
If you have trouble keeping up with a schedule without some errands, chores, or family time falling to the wayside, here are some tried and true time management techniques that can help you manage everything.
Plan Each Day
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Even if you have a great memory, you can still forget some of your schedule if you don’t write things down that you need to do. Is tonight the school play or is that next week? When is your lunch with the boss to discuss your promotion?
When you know in advance about important meetings or school functions that you need to attend, write them down in your calendar. Then, every evening, write down your plans for the next day, so you don’t forget anything.
Use your smartphone as well by setting up alerts that reminds you of important meetings or functions. Set it up, so the alert reminds you of where you need to be within an hour or half-hour, whichever works best for you. Using your calendar and alerts on your phone will remind you of important events in your or your family's life.
Prioritize The Day
Trying to keep up with a busy schedule can be stressful, especially if you don't prioritize your day. One recommendation is to set your priorities in such a way that you do the most crucial or demanding tasks first thing in the morning.
Many time managers call this style of prioritizing, “Eat the Frog.” A quote that credited to Mark Twain says, “If the first thing you do in the morning is to eat a live frog, then you can go through the rest of your day knowing that worst is behind you.”
Prioritizing your tasks means to take on those that you're dreading the most or the biggest tasks for the day first thing in the morning. Then, after they are over, you can go on with your day knowing that the worst is behind you. After finishing the dreaded tasks, you will probably feel calmer and relieved, which can buoy you throughout the rest of the day.
Include Your Goals
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Everyone has tasks or future goals that they want to reach, but they often get lost in our day to day routines. However, if you prioritize them, then you can keep up with and accomplish those goals, no matter how much you do every day.
Determine the goals you wish to accomplish in your life, such as saving towards your children’s college fund, buying a new car, or going on a family vacation to Aruba. Then, set them as daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly goals and prioritize them.
You can rank the goals according to their priority by labeling them A for high priority, B for medium priority, and C for low priority. For instance, your kids' college fund may be a top priority, so it gets an A. A new car may be necessary, but it can wait, so it might get a B. and so on.
Next, sort the ranked goals by the most urgent goals. So, the college fund may be a major priority that you would label with a one. In your planner, that goal would be A1 indicating it is a high priority and urgent. Two would be medium urgency, and three is for low importance.
A trip to Aruba may be B3 because you want to go, but it isn't urgent so that you can put it off until next year. Remember, for your goals, set their importance as High=A, Medium=B, or Low=C and their urgency, High=1, Medium=2, and Low=3.
Use 80/20 Rule
Pareto's Principals, or the 80/20 rule, says that 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your actions. Vilfredo Pareto, who was an economist in Italy, is responsible for this rule or law after he created a mathematical formula showing the unequal wealth distribution in his country.
The formula proved to be accurate in many other situations as well, such as business productivity. Thirty-four years after the creation of the formula, a product quality expert, Dr. Joseph Juran used it for his quality studies. He thought that 20 percent of the products a company produces caused 80 of the problems for them.
While the rule is still used in business today, you can use it on your daily “To Do” lists as well. When you evaluate your lists, you may discover that only a few of the things you do connect to important tasks or goals.
The 80/20 rule suggests you should focus more on the tasks, the 20 percent, that will help you accomplish the most, your 80 percent, which are your goals. Although your to-do list may not get shorter, the tasks will help you achieve more and reach your goals faster in many cases.
Learn How To Say No
For many people, this can be one of the most challenging time management techniques to do. Saying no to others when they seem to need help or take on more than they can handle can be challenging. However, to accomplish your own goals and complete your tasks, you need to learn how to tell people no, that you’re not available to help them.
For many people, this can be one of the most challenging time management techniques to do.
However, saying no is helping them learn they can do the job and it will help build their confidence.
At work, if there is a new member of your team that keeps asking questions after they've completed training, start saying no to encourage them to work on their own. While they may need help a time or two when first starting out, after they’ve completed some of their duties on their own, they will know what to do. Most new workers are worried that they will make.
Mistakes are how everyone learns, so they need to go out on their own to complete a sale or demonstrate to a group of customers how to use one of the company’s products. Until they do, they will always rely on you to help them or take over their responsibilities because they fear making mistakes. However, saying no is helping them learn they can do the job and it will help build their confidence.
Organize Your Desk
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You probably never thought that cleaning and organizing your desk is one of the essential time management techniques to learn. However, approximately 45 minutes every day is spent trying to find something on your desk. That can translate to losing six weeks of productivity a year looking for memos, files, or invoices under the paperwork on your desk.
When it's time to declutter your desk from the files, paperwork, manuals, and other items accumulated on it, you need to focus on getting the task done. Don’t let the memos or files distract you, instead use the Pomodoro technique to stay on track with what you’re doing.
The Pomodoro technique is a time management technique for maintaining your focus. It involves doing tasks on your “To Do” list, such as decluttering your desk, within 25 minutes. Keep track of the time on your watch or computer and then, when the 25 minutes pass, take a break for about five minutes. Then you can use the technique again to do something else or complete the task you were doing.
Prioritize Files And Supplies
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Once the top of the desk is clean, then start organizing it. Put all files together and prioritize them in the same way you did your goals. Put the more urgent files first, then those that need attention next, and finally, those that can wait.
You can also organize files and manuals by those you use daily or weekly. Put a file holder or separator on your desk and put daily information on one side of it and weekly on the other. Those files should be within easy reach on your desk. The other files need to go into a file cabinet. You should make filing a daily habit by doing it at the end of the day, or after finishing with the files you’re using.
By putting the files away, they can’t pile up on your desk. Also, organize your office supplies as well. If you don’t use a stapler or markers very often, put them into a desk drawer. Then put pens, pencils, scissors, and other items you need or frequently use on top of the desk in holders within easy reach.
Learn And Practice The 4D’s
By organizing your desk in this manner, everything you need is easy to find, and your desk remains clutter-free. You won't be wasting time trying to find anything either. Also, take the time to straighten your desk before going home. Organizing the desk also reduces stress and increases your productivity.
There is another technique for prioritizing your daily or weekly tasks, the four D’s. The D’s stand for:
Do It includes urgent tasks that need to doing right away. If a customer calls because they didn't receive a shipment, that is something you will want to investigate and fix right away. If your boss wants to take you out to lunch to discuss an important client, then you need to put that on your schedule for that day.
Taking care of urgent tasks will ensure you don’t fall behind in your work, which will help accomplish some of your work goals, such as getting a promotion, or personal goals, like getting home for dinner with the family on time each evening.
If you're supervising people in your department or if there are new hires around you, delegate some of the tasks that you have that need to get done. Not only will you get them off your plate, but the new staff will gain the experience they need to do their jobs effectively.
Sometimes the tasks on your list are not essential, and they may have been on your list for a few days. If that's the case, then dump them. They are not important enough for you to prioritize if you haven't dealt with them for a few days, and they are likely always going to stay on the to-do list.
Tasks that you defer still need to get done but not right away. However, you don’t want to forget about them because they can cause stress if you don’t do them and don’t turn the task in on time. Put them on your weekly calendar, as well as your daily to-do list, so you know you have a deadline for those tasks and can get them done.
Take Care Of Yourself
Along with taking care of your work and home tasks by organizing and prioritizing them, you need to take care of yourself too. Eating healthy meals, exercising, and getting a good night’s sleep of at least seven hours will improve your energy, focus, and stamina, which in turn can help you be more productive.
Although work, your family, and social life may be important, if you’re not healthy, you may not be able to work or be there for your family. By taking care of yourself, you’re ensuring that you can accomplish your goals at work and in your personal life, especially those that involve being with the ones you love.
Bad habits can be hard to break, but if you learn to plan your month, week, and days and prioritize your tasks, then everything that needs to get done will be accomplished.
Burning out can be as bad as being sick, because you may lose interest in your work, feel fatigued, and not care about the things you used to like. These time management techniques can help you reduce your workload, so you don’t get burned out.
Bad habits can be hard to break, but if you learn to plan your month, week, and days and prioritize your tasks, then everything that needs to get done will be accomplished. Organizing, prioritizing, and planning will decrease your stress, make you more productive, and help achieve your work and personal goals.