Can you control the clock?
Can you turn back the time?
Can you make it pass slower or quicker?
Sadly, the answer to all the above questions is a resounding no. For better or for worse, we are only humans, and we are bound by time. It ticks, trips, runs, and we chase after it.
But do you dare to imagine a different reality? A world where you are in control of your time instead of the other way round?
Well, there is a way. In fact, there are several ways to help you do exactly that. This blog explores some tried and tested time management hacks to maximize your potential and optimize your productivity. Learn these tips, and incorporate them into your routine. Master your time, mold it to your will, and make the most of it, starting today!
1. Schedule Your Day
If you don’t schedule your day, you’re going to end up wasting your time. You might find yourself undertaking tasks that are not important or urgent. You won’t have a clear sense of ‘why.’ All of that’s simply because you have no idea what you’re doing and what you’re supposed to do!
So, take stock of your upcoming day beforehand. Organize your tasks and determine what to focus on. Don’t cram your day with meaningless activities. We know you want to make the most of your time—and that means giving up unimportant things. If you have your schedule before you, you will know you don’t have two hours to dedicate to a pointless meeting. Be fully aware of what tasks lie ahead and manage your time right from the start.
2. Plan Your Week
We talked about scheduling your day but let’s take it a notch higher. Successful people plan their day as well as their entire week! Thanks to current technology, you can use convenient apps like WeekPlan to visualize your upcoming week and line up your tasks according to their importance and priority.
This is a high-powered time hack utilized by only the most effective people. How else do you think they get things done? This tip helps you strategize your time, gain control over your days, and prevent feelings of overwhelm. As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” So devise a weekly plan and get going without the fear of failing!
3. Break Down Large Tasks into Small Chunks
Let’s admit it: no one likes to be saddled with a large project at 8 AM on a Monday or at any time of the day. It goes against basic human nature, one might argue. The immensity of the task, its complexity, and its magnitude can overwhelm you before you’ve even begun. That’s a certain way of setting yourself up to fail.
To tackle this issue, we recommend that you break down large tasks into smaller sub-tasks. Use your organization skills and start whittling away at humongous tasks, dividing them into doable chunks. Allot time slots for each of those chunks, and then get started. This way, you will master the task entirely. Accomplish the smaller goals one by one, and you will slowly but surely complete the entire project!
4. Do Tasks in Batches
Batching is a powerful time management hack. Using this technique, you can control your day and get more things done in less time. Instead of spreading out your tasks all across your day and week, you put them in one place and get done with them in one fell swoop.
What is batching? Well, it is when you categorize similar kinds of tasks in one group and do them in one go rather than sporadically throughout the day. For instance, replying to work emails, editing a short memo, and responding to social media messages are all low-energy tasks that you can do at one time or in one sitting. Complete them and get them out of the way for the rest of your day!
5. Assign a Dollar Value to Your Time
Think of your time as though it’s money. Better yet, assign a dollar value to your hours. Isn’t that how bigshot lawyers work? They get paid by the hour, so they know their hour’s worth. This trick will help you take your time seriously. As you realize and accept time as your most valuable asset, you will begin to worry about where and how you are spending it.
You would never think of wasting a great deal of your money over a random thing, would you? Well, don’t waste your time over unimportant things because guess what, you’re never getting your minutes, hours, or days back. Start noticing where you’re giving your time and why. Does it get you any returns? Does it propel you forward, or does it push you back? Assess all this, and more so you can start investing your time wisely.
6. Track Your Time
A lot of us lose track of time habitually. For instance, you might begin scrolling your Facebook newsfeed, telling yourself it’ll take 5 minutes. The next thing you know, you’ve lost an hour. You don’t know how time flew right by you. Well, we’re sure you see how such things eat at your productivity. It’s time to put an end to this.
People who value their time track their time. It’s an effective way to make intelligent decisions. Take up the practice of tracking your time. You can use smart apps for it, too. Become aware of where you spend your minutes and hours. Get to know the time-wasters that occupy your days and successfully eliminate them from your routine. Start focusing on work that adds value and that’s actually worth your time!
7. Personalize the Time Hacks
Everyone will tell you tried and tested tips to manage your time. You will read things like wake up early, exercise, and batch your tasks. However, start personalizing those tips to your needs. Find out what works for you and what doesn’t. For instance, if you work at night, the tip of waking up early is obviously not for you.
Since you’ve got your plate full every day, it’s also time to get inventive with your time management. Start looking for creative ways to make the most of your waking hours. Got a long commute to work? Use that time to respond to your emails. Got a client meeting to attend downtown? Stop by the store on your way back to pick up the cat food you’re running out on. Work around your schedule to get maximum things done daily.
8. Find Your Peak Performing Time
Did you know your body has its own downtime? Of course, you did- that’s when you need to slow down, take a nap or just call it a day and go to bed. We are not referring to this downtime, however. We are talking about your body’s peak performance times. Your body has its clock. Note that you will not be equally alert and productive at every hour of the day.
The trick is to find the sweet spot in your internal clock. Match your day’s task to your peak performing time. For instance, if you’re a morning person, you might want to move things that require creative thinking to the earlier time slots. Contrarily, if you’re not a morning person, you know better than to take important decisions as soon as you wake up. Find out your body’s optimal time and schedule your work accordingly!
9. Do a Weekly Review
As soon as you’re done with a week, don’t dust it up and forget all about it. We recommend that you look back, introspect and introduce improvements as necessary. Successful people have one thing in common: they don’t repeat old mistakes or stay stuck in unhelpful patterns. One way to ensure this is by doing a weekly review.
When you reach the end of the week, start taking stock of everything you accomplished. At the same time, list down all the activities you engaged in - ranging from the professional to the personal and social. Find out time-wasters, tasks that you can delegate, and things you can stop doing altogether. Get clarity on what’s productive and what isn’t. Take better decisions moving forward into the new week.
10. Don’t Multitask
Have you seen a juggler juggling ten balls at once? Well, it’s only a matter of time that he misses one, and the entire game comes tumbling down. We know that in the olden days, multitasking was reputed to be a cool thing. It made you seem practical, hard-working, and smart, almost to the point of being superhuman. It used to be a big flex if you could do ten things at one time. However, things have changed now.
Studies prove that multitasking comes with high costs - it makes you lose more than you gain. When you multitask, you compromise your focus, which ultimately means nothing gets your undivided attention. This can prove to be costly if you’ve got critical tasks to do. So stop multitasking and switching between different tasks as a habit. Concentrate on one thing at one time. This improves your work quality and saves time as you don’t have to re-do a poorly executed task.
11. Learn to Say NO
Are you someone who says yes when you mean to say no? Well, it’s time to stop doing that if you want to get things done. It might be a cultural practice or individual preference, but you might feel the need to agree with everything. If someone hands over extra work to you, you automatically say yes. If someone asks you for a favor, you can’t turn it down.
However, in meeting others’ expectations and demands, you fall behind on your work or give more time than you should. Saying no is very important if you want to optimize your time. Try this hack once and twice and find yourself saving both your time and your energy!
12. Delegate Tasks at Work
It’s super important to know what to dedicate your time and focus to. Some tasks are critical and require your attention. However, there are always things you can delegate. Employ this tactic to save time. Use that saved time for tasks that you must tackle personally.
Covey’s time management matrix helps you find out which tasks to delegate. Use the method to discover the work that’s important, urgent, neither, or both. You can then delegate it accordingly. Also, note that in doing so, you will inevitably catalyze the growth and improve the decision-making skills of your subordinates since you’re trusting them to take care of the work without your direct intervention.
13. Delegate Tasks at Home
What applies at work applies at your home, too. A lot of us are control freaks. We don’t trust others to do the job as well as we would. Or we simply don’t want to let go of the steering wheel. However, if you want to save time, it is imperative to discern the things you can delegate in your personal life and slowly but gradually release control.
For instance, you don’t have to manage your partner at home. Let them do the dishes or the laundry. Likewise, let your kids learn how to prepare snacks for themselves or set the table for dinner. Train them to be responsible and disciplined. Stay hands-on but don’t take over control unnecessarily - especially when you don’t need to. Let your family members take the helm of household chores, experiment, fail, and learn from their mistakes - and save time in the process!
14. Conduct Meetings With an Agenda
You often find yourself setting up a company conference or a weekly meeting with your team without really knowing what you want to discuss. The plan is vague at best and chaotic at worst. When the meeting begins, you have no idea what to talk about, which aspect to discuss next, and where to go in the future.
This wastes your time, company time, and employees’ time and eventually adds up to your costs. Resolve the entire gamut of this problem by conducting meetings with a pre-set schedule. Plan the things you want to discuss. Follow the agenda to the tee. Also, give yourself a time limit. End the meeting when the time is up. This is how you can get things done without losing track.
15. Set Tough but Achievable Deadlines
We don’t want you to go all soft on yourself. You have to push yourself hard if you want to overcome the obstacles in your way and achieve your goals. However, it’s essential to strike the right balance. Give yourself deadlines but be realistic.
For instance, a project that practically requires three weeks cannot be completed in 1.5 weeks. If you give yourself and your team an unrealistic and impossibly demanding timeline, you will damage the team morale and compromise the quality of work. So, prepare a doable schedule. Break down tasks into chunks and devise a timeline accordingly. This also reduces the chances of having to re-do things, effectively saving your time.
16. Stop Procrastinating
A lot of us are master procrastinators. We never do today the things we can do tomorrow. And when tomorrow comes, we’d rather put it off for another day or preferably a week. Sometimes, this procrastination results from being a perfectionist—we wait for just the right conditions to get started. However, know that there is no such thing as an ideal time.
Get started already! Don’t procrastinate. Be a proactive person - a doer rather than a thinker. Take your time planning out and setting a schedule but once that is in place, start taking action right away. The more you procrastinate, the more you will delay the work and add to your anxiety. It’s a downward spiral, folks. Nip it in the bud, and commit yourself fully to the task at hand. Once you finish it, the feeling of accomplishment will be satisfying like nothing else.
17. Get Easy Wins Right Away
Some of you might get bogged down by bigger things, leaving the smaller tasks for later. However, we would advise against this course of action. The best thing is to start small. Do your routine tasks quickly, so your path is cleared.
Consider a thing as minor as making your bed in the morning or replying to emails. Just get done with them as soon as you can—no need to put them off until the pile gets bigger and bigger. Once you finish the small tasks, you will feel like you have achieved something. The motivation boost will push you to take on the bigger challenges with confidence.
18. Turn Off Notifications
Distractions are like crocodiles with huge gaping mouths: they swallow your time quickly and completely. In other words, you can consider distractions as lethal. They take you off track, they eat away at your focus, and they waste your time which you can never get back. One of the biggest distractions is the notifications on your phone or computer.
Limit your distractions right away if you want to save time. Turn off the notifications that ding every five minutes and steal your attention. Ignore the new email notification until you’re free to attend to it. Put your phone on silent mode until you’re done with the important thing you’re supposed to do. Do this, and you’ll find yourself saving up on precious time effortlessly.
19. Limit Social Media Time
Another huge time-eater is social media. It’s magnetic; it grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go - well, not until hours later. You might find yourself randomly scrolling down FaceBook and get sucked into the rabbit hole. It’s an addiction, but you must wean yourself off of it as quickly as you can.
Give yourself specific slots in the day when you’re allowed to use social media. Be your own strict but well-meaning parent. Supervise your social media time and cut back on it as much as you can. It’s not healthy, and it’s incredibly time-consuming while also being mostly unproductive. Once you manage your social media consumption, you will have a lot more time on your hands to do things that really make a positive difference in your life.
20. Use Calendar Tools
Enlist technology’s help wherever possible. We know we just told you to kick off your social media addiction, but hey, here we’re talking about useful apps! There are many apps out there that help you take control of your day, week, and month. They help you keep track of everything you are doing and everything that is upcoming.
Try out WeekPlan. It will help you track your time, prioritize, and plan. It will also ensure you get work done per your deadline. Use it to schedule your days, organize the upcoming agenda and plan your goals. It’s the most effective way to manage your project and, more importantly, your time!
21. Add Buffer Time in Your Calendar
Not all of your time in the day is dedicated to working. It would help if you accounted for all the time you spend doing everyday things like commuting and taking breaks between a jam-packed day. Add them to your calendar to make sure you have taken your entire day into account. This way, you’ll stay on top of things, and your schedule won’t require impromptu adjustments.
Also, add time for leisure to your calendar. That’s right - schedule your trip, spa appointment, and social hangout! Give yourself intentional breathers. We often become too consumed by work and professional life. However, that leads to burnout. Effective time management means you carve time for your self-care, too.
22. Declutter and Organize
It takes time to sort things out - whether they are objects on your desk, a cluttered desktop, or a chaotic digital workspace. Free your time by cleaning up your space. Make it a habit to keep everything organized and clean. This way, you won’t have to spend hours just trying to find what should be easily accessible to you.
23. Get Enough Sleep
Yes, the world tells us to cut back on our sleep time and spend more hours working. However, that’s a very counterproductive and even harmful practice. Set your sleep schedule, get your mandated eight hours of sleep every night, and wake up rested. This will keep you alert and quick throughout the day.
Fatigue and tiredness lead to wasted time. It keeps you fuzzy or compromises your efficiency. It also impacts your decision-making skills. You might end up performing poorly at work and be forced to re-do things. This only means you spend more time just correcting and revising tasks. So, get proper sleep to stay healthy, boost your concentration and save time at work!
24. Start Your Day Early
You only have 24 hours in a day. That’s quite limited if you’ve got a lot of things to do. Someone who wakes up at 5 has the edge over someone who wakes up at 12. If you are habitual of sleeping in, you will find your hours slipping away quicker. You might lag behind others as well. So
One way to hack your time successfully is by starting early. Most successful people report waking up at 5 AM. They exercise, meditate, and eat a healthy breakfast before starting their workday. All of this puts them in an optimal mental state where they can be productive and efficient. So, take a page from their book and become an early riser.
25. Reward Yourself!
Working hard is….hard. While you must be persistent and consistent in chasing your goals, you can quickly experience burnout if you don’t take breaks and give yourself the much-earned pat on your back. One guaranteed way to keep yourself going at the pace you want is to reward yourself.
Give yourself little treats every time you achieve a milestone. Go for a movie, a dinner, or just watch a movie on a quiet weekend. This is your recharge time, which is as important as your work time. It might not look like a time hack to you, but we promise, it helps keep you focused and motivated to work hard during the day and make the most of each hour.
Benjamin Franklin wasn’t off the mark when he said, “Lost time is never found again.” Well, take a proactive approach in your present, so you have no regrets in the future. There’s nothing you can do to bring back lost time but there’s plenty you can do to take charge of the clock today. Start valuing your time, and make the most of it.
You now know the best ways you can adopt to manage your time like a pro. What’s stopping you? Start using the tips and tricks we have shared above so you can be your most productive, fast, and efficient self.
It’s all in your hands!
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