How to Manage Time and Be More Efficient

May 7, 2019
Planning and prioritizing are fundamental to take control of your time and your life, regardless of your occupation. The author Jory MacKay proposes 21 strategies to manage time effectively.

Ironically, knowing how to manage time is challenging for everyone but often, we don’t have time to address “time.” However, spending a little time analyzing how we spend our time and thinking about how to use it more efficiently is worth the time. Managing our time to do our work more efficiently is possible, it only takes a little time.

After all, time goes by fast and the longer you go without addressing it, the more of it you’ll waste. And the more energy you waste the more opportunities you’ll miss. This is why it’s imperative that you analyze the way you manage time. It’ll help you analyze what you need to change and then implement those changes.

Did you notice how important the word time is here? Let’s take a closer look at how you can effectively manage your time.

21 tips to manage time and be more efficient

Time management is complex and it ranges from increasing productivity to balancing work and family life and doing it without getting burnout. It’s all about changing habits and establishing long-term goals, among other things.

Planning and prioritizing are fundamental for taking control over your life and your time; regardless of your occupation. The author Jory MacKay proposes 21 strategies to manage time effectively.

Figure out how you’re currently spending your time

1. Understand why it’s important to know how to manage your time. Time management is not about stifling the fear of wasting your time. It’s about understanding the powerful benefits of using it wisely.

2. Be realistic about how much work you can actually finish in a day. You may think of time as a resource that you just can’t get enough of but more of it won’t necessarily translate into productivity. The simplest form of time management is to schedule when and where you’ll work and stick to it.

woman learning to manage time at her computer

3. Discover where you’re wasting your time. The more you understand how you’re currently spending your day, the more impactful your time management efforts will be.

4. Set daily goals and alerts on how you are spending your time. Once you have an overview of it, you’ll be able to start making daily changes.

5. Create a motivating morning routine. A good one can prepare you for a productive and meaningful day of work since you’ll look forward to the positive boost of which you’ll take advantage of throughout the rest of the day.

6. Say no to multitasking. Studies show that it’s impossible for humans to concentrate on more than one task at a time. Every time you find yourself losing focus, stop and write what you are thinking before going back to the task at hand.

Prioritize meaningful work and delegate the rest

Once you find out where all of your time is going you have to decide what you should and shouldn’t do with it, explains MacKay. In order to do this:

7. Identify the urgent work and separate it from the rest. Distinguishing what’s urgent from what’s not; what is important from what’s not, helps you prioritize your tasks and develop a schedule that will allow you to do more of the important work and less of what’s not important.

8. First, prioritize; then, prioritize, and finally prioritize. Identify what are your main objectives and truly focus on them.

9. Use the 30X rule to delegate more tasks. MacKay proposes to follow the rule proposed by Rory Vaden, author of Procrastinate on Purpose. The rule states that you should give 30 times the time it takes you to complete a task to train someone else to do it.

Investing the time to train someone to whom you can delegate reimburses you a net gain of approximately 1100 minutes a year. Or, as Vaden says, an increase of 733% in your ROTI (return of the time invested).

10. Bring back “no” into your vocabulary. According to an article by The University of Chicago, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, saying “I won’t do something,” instead of “I can’t do something,” allowed participants to separate themselves from unwanted commitments a lot more easily.

Establish an efficient daily schedule

Once you’ve accomplished all of the above, then it’s time to design a schedule with which to manage your time more effectively.

11. Set schedules, not deadlines. Here MacKay resorts to the advice of James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. He states that instead of giving yourself a deadline to complete something and then feeling like a failure if you don’t succeed, you should, in contrast, choose the goal that’s most important and then set your schedule to work on it accordingly.

12. Program your goals with time, not by tasks. Instead, take the big tasks and divide them into timed sessions. By organizing your day by scheduling your time instead of your work, you can go from managing your schedule around an unknown date (work) to a known time.

“A calendar is finite. There’s only a certain number of hours in a day. That fact becomes clear the moment we try to put an unreal number of things in a finite space.”

-Peter Bregman-

a man sitting happily at a desk

13. Schedule time for interruptions and breaks. You’ll need time to rest and assume that there’ll be interruptions –not planning on them will be chaotic. Either interruptions arrive or your body tells you that you need to take a break. If you didn’t plan for it, then your perfectly formulated program will suddenly come crashing down as soon as it happens.

Allocate time

14. Separate the time you spend making from the time you spend managing. It’s very easy to fill your days with administrative tasks and not leave enough time for work that needs to be done. Doing is a lot different than managing.

15. Group your activities throughout the week and take advantage of the momentum you gain from an efficient start. Newton’s first laws of motion also apply to productivity:

“An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Use location in your favor to manage time

Your calendar or schedule is not the only time management tools you have. MacKay suggests some things you can use in your workplace that can influence the way you work.

16. Try the Workstation Popcorn technique in the workplace to unlock your time. Changing workplaces during the day can be an excellent way to maintain motivation and productivity. This technique by Joel Runyon works like this:

  • Firstly, write down all the tasks you must do today.
  • Secondly, divide that list into 3 equal sections (or into three groups).
  • Finally, choose 3 different locations for each job batch.

17. Work with your body’s natural energy cycle. Also, work by doing what’s best for you. So that you don’t only think about managing your time but also your energy.

Protect your time

There’ll never be a lack of things to do that’ll require your time. You have to learn to protect it to avoid using it to your disadvantage. MacKay proposes the following tips:

18. Use strategic laziness to work on the right things. The concept of “strategic laziness” refers to prioritizing work and tasks that are important and allowing oneself to be lazy in those that don’t matter.

“Nothing is less productive than doing what shouldn’t be done at all”

-Peter Drucker-

19. Automate your non-negotiable time throughout the day. It’s important to ensure that your scheduled work sessions develop smoothly. For this, it’s very important to protect yourself from distractions.

There are tools that’ll help you communicate to others that you are not available at a given moment. If this doesn’t work for you, then you can look for other ways to let people know that you’re working at that moment and you can’t be bothered.

Yvy Lee method

20. Use the Ivy Lee Method to finish the day properly. Ivy Lee proposed this simple five-step daily routine to achieve maximum productivity:

  • Firstly, at the end of each workday, write the six most important things you need to achieve tomorrow. (Don’t write more than six tasks.)
  • Secondly, prioritize those six tasks in order of importance.
  • Thirdly, the next day, concentrate only on the first task. Work until you finish it before moving on to the second task.
  • Then, get closer to the rest of your list in the same manner. And then, at the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the next day.
  • Finally, repeat this process every business day.
person with a pencil and a notepad

21. Don’t forget the benefits of free time. Because managing time doesn’t mean having more time to spend at work. It’s about balance your work and your personal life what will keep you healthy and content. That is, you must have plenty of time for rest, relaxation and socialization. And even for doing absolutely nothing at all if you so choose.

How to manage time: Conclusion

Managing time and being more productive is an attainable goal and it’s within everyone’s reach. However, you must be aware that you have to stop and think about what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and what is it that you truly wish to achieve. Busybodies don’t necessarily do things, let alone finish them.

Spend some time (take as much as you need) analyzing your routine and rethinking your tasks. Let the above indications to manage time be your guidelines to make your work, studies and personal life a lot more efficient.