Time management skills are extremely valuable, and not just for your professional life! Knowing how to manage your time wisely can help you to make time for the things that are most important to you, while still taking care of all your responsibilities. Below, find five simple ways to upgrade your time management skills to a whole new level.
- Plan out your week and identify your priorities.
If your work week starts on Monday, then it’s a good idea to figure out that week’s priorities on Sunday. Then you can lay out a plan to achieve those priorities and have everything ready to go on Monday morning. Rather than writing a long to-do list, try setting just a few priorities or goals for each day. This is much more manageable, and you can create actionable plans to achieve each goal on your list. It’s also a good idea to block out your time using software or online tools like Google Calendar. This way, you can realistically see how much work you can fit into a single day, and you can avoid setting unrealistic expectations and overscheduling yourself.
SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-sensitive. An example of a SMART goal would be, “Increase productivity by 15% over the next month.” SMART goals are a great way to help you achieve things, because they are specific enough that you can create a clear plan, and they’re measurable, so you can easily judge whether or not you’ve met your goal. They’re also attainable, meaning that they’re possible for you to complete, and relevant, meaning that they pertain to your life. Of course, SMART goals are also time-sensitive, so part of the goal states when you want to have it completed. By structuring your week with SMART goals, you’ll find that it becomes much easier to manage your time.
- Treat any underlying mental health issues.
Difficulty managing your time can be a symptom of a variety of mental health issues, from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Two of the main indicators of OCD are obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, and this mental health disorder can make it very difficult to manage time wisely, even if you have the intelligence and the skills to complete the tasks at hand. If you know of or suspect that you might have an underlying mental illness that’s making it tough for you to focus and manage your time the way you should, be sure to get help from a mental health professional. It may also be helpful to take online assessments to evaluate whether or not a mental health disorder is the root of your issues; if you experience obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors as mentioned above, you may want to take this OCD test. Once you’ve gotten professional treatment for any underlying disorders, which may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both, it should be much easier to improve your time management skills.
- Give yourself regular breaks.
If you work in a traditional office setting, then you most likely already have breaks built into your day. If you’re self-employed or work from home, however, you’ll need to make the effort to create a schedule that includes occasional 15-minute breaks as well as a lunch hour. Regular breaks improve concentration and focus. And choosing to use your breaks wisely–for example, taking a walk, doing a quick meditation, or enjoying a healthy snack–can further aid your productivity and time management.
Just because a schedule works for one person doesn’t mean it’ll work well for everyone else, so be sure to optimize your schedule for your own abilities and preferences. Pay attention to the times of day you’re most productive and feel energized and ready to get work done. As you pick up on your own patterns, you’ll be able to schedule the projects that take the most time and energy for the times of day when your productivity level is higher. Over time, once you’ve identified your patterns and adjusted your schedule accordingly, you’re likely to find that managing your time becomes much simpler.
Time management is a valuable skill, and as long as you’re willing to put in the effort, it’s absolutely possible to upgrade your time management skills to an entirely new level. Start by planning out your week and identifying your priorities, setting SMART goals, managing stress healthily, giving yourself regular breaks, and learning your own patterns of productivity.
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