Five Tricks for Successful Time Management
Throughout our daily lives we perform a multitude of tasks, and upon finishing them, we sometimes have the impression that we haven’t done it sufficiently or even that we haven’t done anything at all, which makes us feel frustrated.
Why do we feel this way? We simply haven’t managed our time properly.
To manage your time better, you can use 5 simple tricks that will help you figure out what you do every day and improve in each daily activity.
“Time is not gold, time is life.”
-José Luis Sampedro-
1. Set a goal
But this goal should have certain characteristics:
- Specific. The goal should be as detailed as possible.
- Measurable. It’s very important to be able to measure whether you have achieved it or not.
- Realistic. We often set unrealistic goals for ourselves, so we should adapt them and make it possible to accomplish them.
- Fixed period of time. Each goal should have a set period of time to be completed. This way we can easily measure if we’ve achieved it or not.
2. Establish priorities
Stephen Covey says “first thing’s first” to refer to the implications of distinguishing between what’s important and urgent and what isn’t so you can prioritize your tasks.
Covey created four quadrants in which you can classify each activity:
- Urgent and important.
- Not urgent but important.
- Urgent but not important.
- Neither urgent nor important.
Urgent tasks are the ones that require your immediate attention.
Important tasks are ones that contribute to your long-term goals, to your purpose in life.
“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.”
3. Plan your tasks
From a professional point of view, there are tasks that can be defined as having high returns (the ones that bring in a lot of profit), and others as having low returns (the ones that bring in little profit).
Each task should be tackled at the appropriate time of day or week for it to be effective. We should also keep in mind the time that is required not only for the task itself, but also everything it involves (travel, phone calls, etc.).
Once you plan your tasks, you should dedicate a little time for unexpected circumstances that could arise so that you’ll be able to address them if they do.
“Don’t start a day, a week, a month without planning it.”
4. Set aside time
Every minute that we dedicate to a task, especially if it’s a high-return task, should be protected so that there are no interruptions.
It’s common to get interrupted by phone calls, e-mails, etc., but we should focus on setting aside a determined amount of time each day to dedicate to a concrete task.
Tim Ferriss, in his book The 4-Hour Work Week, defines interruption as anything that prevents you from completing a task. He distinguishes three classes of interruptions:
- The ones that cause you to lose time. These are the ones that can be ignored with little to no consequences.
- The ones that take up time. These are the repetitive tasks that interrupt your most important work.
- The ones that arise from not knowing how to delegate. These happen when other people need us to validate simple tasks that could have been done alone.
To be able to set aside time, it’s important to learn how to say NO to everything that is not related to your project or that doesn’t help you in any way.
In any case, you can say “not now” and leave that task for a more appropriate time.
The activities that we do both at work and in our private lives should sometimes be done by ourselves, but other times they can be delegated so you can work in a team. Therefore, it’s fundamental to learn how to delegate.
5. Measure the results
Once you’ve set a goal and completed the task, you should measure whether you’ve completed the task successfully in the time frame that you set.
If you haven’t achieved the result you wanted, you can evaluate whether your goal was realistic or not and make adjustments to make it possible.
Managing your time correctly is a step towards success at work and in life. Knowing what you do, when you do it, and how you do it is essential for achieving your dreams.
“People consider me to be an expert in time management. I see myself more as an expert in the management of priorities, valuing things well. I know that investment will yield more for my future.”