Productivity Tips: Time Management
Time management is a vast topic. But don't put off good practices until you have time to research and adopt a whole life-consuming system. Here are 5 quick tips that can help anyone today:
Break Tasks Down into Steps
The prospect of tackling a large project can be intimidating. Breaking a project down into smaller and smaller tasks makes it manageable. Starting with your entire project, list the major subtasks, then keep breaking those down until you reach tasks that you can complete in a single session. Completing even one of those tasks each day makes continual forward progress.
Develop a Tickler System
You can use a complex calendar application. You can use the reminder system on your phone. You can use a simple text file with a list of tasks and dates. But whatever you do, don't depend on your overworked brain to remember everything you have to do at some date in the future.
Have some method for jogging your memory when a task becomes due. And when an item is done, if it's a recurring task, make sure is gets rescheduled.
Decide the Next Day's Priority
If you're a natural high-energy-in-the-morning person, perhaps you can plan your whole day first thing in the morning. But most of us get moving more easily in the morning if we already know what we need to do when we wake up.
Before you shut down for the night, either at the end of your work day or before you go to bed, decide what the primary priorities are for the next day. Preferably, outline your basic schedule for the day in writing. But even if you don't write it up, be clear what the highest priority will be.
Schedule Declutter Time
Set aside a regular time to go through your clutter and convert email, paper, and notes into concrete tasks for your to-do list. It's easy to get overwhelmed when the inbox gets full or papers pile up. Overwhelm leads to stress. Clear the deck regularly.
Of course, situations change. Steps you've planned may become unnecessary. Reminders may become irrelevant. And sometimes your plans for the next day get blasted by a crisis.
The most important lesson for time management is to be able to take a deep breath and make a course correction when circumstances change.
Interested in more time management ideas? See our previous post on the Basic Principles of All Time Management.
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