Do you sometimes find yourself overwhelmed by how fast time slips by? This can happen if you are fighting off distractions and have things to do. That's why we need to wisely manage our time so that we aren't wasting it. After all, it is a valuable resource. To that end, we present these 10 time management habits. Use them to help you stay on track and keep your productivity up.
Have quality sleep
First thing's first: how have you been sleeping? Is your sleep not restful or do you always feel like a zombie? If you answered "yes," then we recommend taking steps to improve the quality of your sleep. A lack of sleep or poor quality sleep can prevent your brain from operating in top condition. And if that is an issue, then the rest of these items may not be as important. Your mind is paramount to your ability to be productive. Correcting sleep issues is a bit out of the scope of this article. But a good starting point could be to have a conversation with a healthcare professional.
Focus on one task at a time
Let's go ahead and admit it. As human beings we are not great at multitasking. Sometimes we seem to be able to do more than one thing at a time. But when your tasks are time sensitive, you can't afford to sacrifice productivity. You should avoid multitasking. Even though it may seem like a way to optimize the usage of your time, it is not. Most likely you'll end up using more time, doing inferior work, or both.
Maintain online discipline
Amazing technology that surrounds us has had a great impact on our lives. Computers, tablets, smartphones, and even smartwatches are everywhere. You probably use some of these tools to get work done. But the ever-present call of the internet can be a distraction. Social media sites keep us connected, and we all have other favorite time wasters. Yet when we are working, keeping on task is important. This is especially true when working from home as a freelancer or independent contractor. It's ok to take a quick break here and there to keep your mind fresh. But you should be mindful. Avoid lettings these distractions damage your overall productivity. You can use a timesheet app to block out your time away from online distractions.
If you don't have a goal to work toward, you might wind up in a seemingly endless march. You may find that your motivation suffers. But if you set some goals you could avoid that pitfall. Try setting long-term goals with short-term goals to indicate progress. With clear goals, you'll have a finish line in sight. You won't waste time going down the wrong path or end up finding yourself at a standstill.
Pick out one highest priority task to complete each day
To-do lists can be long and pull you in all sorts of directions. Narrow down and identify important tasks on your to-do list that should be completed. Once you've done that, pick one that is your highest priority for the day. Soon, over a period of a few days, you'll realize that you've knocked out plenty of these tasks.
Having too many tasks can cause too much competition for our limited time. Have you worked in an environment where everything is "priority one" all the time? Importance is relative. In fact, ranking things by importance is meaningless if everything is at the top. This is counterproductive if you are trying to determine what tasks to perform. To keep this from happening, you should try to limit use of the "priority one" label. Save it for those items that are actually the most important.
Perhaps you've got some momentum going now. But if you let yourself lose track of your goals, you may find your productivity starting to slip away. Avoid this pitfall by being consistent with your work. Being consistent is one of the most important time management habits. Make a plan to put in an appropriate amount of time and effort on a regular basis according to your goals.
Put effort into being organized
Finding the right tool at the right time can prevent you from having to interrupt your work. Keeping notes and ideas organized can also save you a lot of wasted time and effort. If you are not organized when working on your tasks, you may later realize that you forgot something. Or you may realize that you could have done a better job if you had all the relevant resources available. Making an effort to have these notes and ideas organized will allow you to use them at the right time. Then you can avoid having to go back and rework things so much.
Are you familiar with the term "jack-of-all-trades"? The second part of that expression is "master of none". People are not experts on all topics. Talented people around you that are more specialized for the task at hand can be a good resource. Delegating to them will let you have more time to invest in the topics where you excel. You don't have all the time in the world, so to get many things done you'll need to rely on others that you trust. Otherwise you're limiting your productivity.
Don’t overbook your calendar
Did you ever have one too many meetings? Trying to fit too many things on the calendar doesn't allow enough time for each individual item. You will not give enough attention to each task. This can also cause stress as you rush from item to item. You may also find that you do not have enough time allocated to handle some items at all. This reduces productivity because you'll need to spend extra time catching up. Or you'll end up reworking things that you didn't have enough time for in the first place.
Now that we've listed these helpful time management habits, can you see any that you could put into practice? You may find that managing your time becomes easier, and you'll be able to make the most of your day. Browse our Time Management 101 resource page for more tips and strategies.