I’ve been looking at the concept of time management for years now and it has done a lot for me. I was able to do a lot of things with less time. Not only did I become more productive, but I also had time to pursue the things I love. Thus, I want to share in this article the things I did on how I avoided poor time management. I have compiled these tips or steps in order for you to bring your time management skills to the next level. So let me start by giving the tips.
Here’s how we can avoid poor time management:
- Proper Planning and Scheduling
- Prioritize the Most Important and Urgent
- Find the Best Time To Work
- Follow the 2 Minute Rule
- Delegate Tasks
- Take Breaks
- Don’t Multitask
- Group Similar Tasks
- Learn To Say “No”
- Eliminate Distractions
- Don’t Be a perfectionist
- Follow the 80/20 Rule
- Remember To Rest
- Make Use of Our Technology
- Celebrate Your Success
These are basically the tips you need to do in order to make full use of your time management skills. I believe that time management is a skill that people can develop. It is not something that you are just born with. I’ve made an article discussing why I believe time management is a skill in a separate article.
If you think that you can’t develop time management, then I recommend you check that out since I’ve given a case on why time management is something you can develop over time: Why Time Management is a Skill
I know how hard it is to memorize all the tips given above so if you want to have a very simplified summary on how to prevent poor time management, then here it is.
As a general rule, we can prevent poor time management by properly scheduling and planning our tasks for the day, and then respecting and following our plans. By doing this simple strategy, we would be able to avoid poor time management.
The other tips are basically what would make time management better. But the main point in preventing poor time management is to do your best to put everything into the schedule and then to respect that schedule.
If you want to really bring your time management skills to the next level, then I invite you to read further down this article as it might be one of the most comprehensive you’ll find that provides 15 tips on avoiding poor time management.
1. Proper Planning and Scheduling
Proper planning and scheduling is the best way to avoid poor time management. With proper planning, a person would be able to mark times in the day where they would be focused on the task. This is the most basic solution to combat poor time management.
The most common reason why poor time management happens is that the person usually doesn’t have anything to do.
For example, you can’t blame yourself just browsing social media all day, or just playing games all day if you really don’t have anything to do in the first place.
I believe that what makes people come out of a rut is having a carefully written plan. Then execution of the plan happens.
For example, a few years back, I said to myself that I am going to improve my own life. I know that I’ve been using too many computer games thus, I plan to stop gaming. I stopped playing for 90 days as detox and actually made an article about it. You can find the article on the benefits and experiences I’ve had while away from games for 90 days. Here is the article: Quitting Games
As you can see, I saw the benefits and even made an article. In fact, that is one of the first articles on this website.
But lately, I’ve realized something much bigger.
All of those don’t matter much. In fact, the only thing that got me out from that person addicted to social media or computer games is that I learned the value of having a concrete set of plans and goals.
Just after having a clear goal in mind which is to be a blogger that gives tips on self-development, I started to shift my time from wasting it on games to make this website better in my free time.
The reason is simple, I was a lecturer back then, and having lectures all day just tire me out. So, I used my free time to just play games or browse what my friends have been doing recently.
But after having a goal and creating a concrete plan on how to achieve it, my time management skill instantly became better. I was able to have enough energy to make more content on this website with the hopes of helping more people.
The point is this, the moment I learned about my real aspirations in life and made a plan on how to achieve them, my time management skills became better instantly. It doesn’t matter what kind of tricks you have on your sleeves or how much social media detox you do to make time.
If you want to make progress in the long term, then have a plan and stick to it.
In fact, if your plan is the thing that would make you get up every day. Scheduling those plans that will make you better at time management.
So maybe you should ask yourself this. Instead of telling why you’re bad at time management, try to ask yourself what is the thing that would make you get out of bed each morning. What are the tasks that you want to do every day that would bring light to your eyes?
Have those tasks, write them down and plan them. Schedule what time would you want to do them so you can develop grit and ultimately make time management your new habit.
The next tips are the cherry on top if you will. While the first tip is a good solution for avoiding bad time management skills, the remaining tips are the ones that would make your time management skills even better.
If you’re having trouble making a goal list to plan ahead, then I suggest you read this article where I explained in a simple to understand manner how to make a list of your goals. Those steps really helped me a lot: How to Create a List of your Goals
2. Prioritize the Most Important and Urgent
Prioritizing the most important and urgent tasks is a very effective time management tip. The reason is that if we can finish the most important or urgent task first, we would already accomplish a lot of the said time period. This makes sure that we are hitting our goal every time.
The most common mistake people make in time management is that they don’t have priorities.
There are 2 things to remember when we are talking about the most important tasks. One is the important tasks, the second is the most urgent tasks.
Find out the most important task you need to do and focus on that. Sometimes, it might look like there are lots of tasks that are important but upon careful look, you can find the one that would bring the most result.
For example, the most important task for me today is to publish this article. I know that this is a very long article but I also want to finish this article today.
This is my priority. Thus, I am now focusing my time and energy on finishing this first before anything else.
When this is finished, I have accomplished a lot already and I am already satisfied with the day. That’s why I planned this thing ahead of everything else.
This means that this is more important than browsing what’s latest on Instagram or checking my emails. I would only look at those sites later after finishing this task.
With the most important task finish, you would probably feel already accomplished that day. That’s what we are looking for in time management. Find the task that needs the most attention and focus on that task for today.
3. Find the Best Time To Work
To be better at time management, it is one thing to schedule tasks, but it is another to schedule tasks at the perfect time. Timing is very important in time management since working on tasks at the correct time can instantly boost our productivity.
One way to find the best timing is to schedule tasks that involve people at the same time they are also working.
For example, I am not a fan of chatting with other people early in the morning since most are not yet at work. Therefore, the chances of getting a reply are very slim.
Most of the time, we are chatting with others because we are expecting a reply. The faster, the better. But if we are doing it at incorrect times, then we can’t expect any reply.
The only exception to this is to chat or email on something that you don’t feel replies are urgent. If that’s the case then timing doesn’t matter.
Another thing to take note of is some of us have brains that are best right after waking up. That includes me. I can write better after waking up that’s why I usually schedule my creative writing in the morning.
For night owls, then your time for creative writing is at night.
As you can see, we can schedule things out at perfect times to be even more productive. For example, you can’t expect me to write a good article if I am writing very late because I will be really sleepy and my mind won’t function at optimal levels.
Therefore, find the best time to work. Your most optimal time of work will be different from others. That’s why it is best to learn it by trial and error.
4. Follow the 2 Minute Rule
Following the 2 minute rule is a very practical productivity hack to do more things in less time. It is a concept in time management that is about doing things that can be finished within 2 minutes immediately. That way, you can finish a lot of tasks in a day.
The 2-minute rule is basically following this simple rule.
If you can finish a task within 2 minutes, then do it now.
In theory, it works like this.
If you can finish tasks in only 2 minutes and just do it, then you can finish 30 tasks in just 1 hour.
That’s a lot.
Another is that if you follow this rule, you can have fewer things on your to-do list which will make choosing high-priority tasks much easier.
For example, I can finish cleaning my desk in just 2 minutes to I can do it immediately. I can send an email to a client in just 2 minutes so I will do it.
The only exception is when you are really focused on one task.
Sometimes, the 2-minute rule can be a problem if it keeps us away from our focus. If that is the case, then you should not follow the 2-minute rule.
Since there is always an exception to the rule.
An example of an exception is writing this article. I need my full attention and focus when writing an article so even if I can do things that only last 2 minutes, I won’t do it. I know that it takes a lot of energy and time just to go into focus and won’t waste energy into going into focus again.
But on doing tasks that don’t require much focus, then the 2-minute rule can apply.
5. Delegate Tasks
Delegation of tasks is one of the keys to time management. The reason is that you can make others do the things you are not an expert in. That way, you can focus all your time and energy on tasks that would yield you the best result to time ratio.
I know how hard it is to delegate tasks.
There are just moments where you think that you can do everything your own because it seems what others are doing is not at all good.
The reason is that if you really want to make something big, you need others to also work on it. You can’t just do it all alone.
As I said earlier, timing is very important. Find the time when you are the best version of yourself to handle the task
But, there are just tasks that you can give to other people. This opens up more time for you to do things that you are specialized in.
For example, in the office, you can hire someone to clean your office instead of using an hour of your day every day just to clean it.
Instead of cleaning for an hour, why not just use your 1 hour for creative work?
That’s a much better use of your time and what time management is all about.
Doing more things with as little time as possible and delegation does that for you.
The only downside of delegation is the training. You have to train the person you’re delegating to. This means checking their work every time until you can leave them alone. But the time used for that is very worth it.
6. Take Breaks
Taking breaks lets us find some time to recharge some energy. Science says that a person can only focus for 1 and a half to 2 hours at a time. This means that after some time, you need some rest in order for you to maintain your focus.
Taking breaks is important because it helps us regenerate from energy-consuming work.
This can be as easy as closing your eyes, cleaning your desk, or just grabbing something to eat.
Some people say that we can only focus on 1.5-2 hours every time. That’s why there are some productivity timers out there with breaks on it like the Pomodoro technique.
In the Pomodoro technique, breaks are included in the timer in order for you to be always working at optimal levels.
Taking breaks is essential if you are really working too much. While you can still work even if you’re tired, it is not good for your body.
In fact, even if I am someone who is a fan of productivity, I take my rest seriously.
That means even sleeping for a full 8 hours is necessary for me.
But that doesn’t mean that you need to do too many breaks. Too much of everything is bad because frequent breaks cause us to lose our focus.
It might seem simple but it takes around 15 minutes to fully get back into focus. Thus, if you ever get a break, then it takes another 15 minutes to fully get you back on focus and if you have a break again, then you are going back to 0.
So, use breaks if you are really tired. It is always better to work when you are fully rested because it will make the quality of your work better.
But do not overdo it.
7. Don’t Multitask
Some people get it wrong when they say that multitasking is a part of time management. While it may look like you’re working very efficiently since you’re doing a lot of tasks at the same time, you are actually using way more time to finish a task when multitasking.
In my other article, I’ve explained that multitasking is good in small amounts.
While some are always telling you to stop multitasking, I don’ believe it because there are research papers saying that multitasking is a good idea.
One such example is a study on healthcare workers where they found out that doing a small amount of multitasking improved the work performance of their employees.
Thus, multitasking is good in smaller amounts. That’s why I made an article on how to be better at multitasking in a separate article, I think it is a good article to read especially multitasking whether we like it or not is already part of almost everyone’s work environment. Here is the article: How to multitask without breaking your brain
But, too much multitasking is bad. That’s why there are research papers telling that it only makes your work bad.
That’s why if you don’t know how to properly multitask, then it is better just not to do it.
For example, I am completely focused on finishing this article no matter what. So I am not multitasking. The only time I multitask is if I can group certain tasks which I will discuss later.
But as a general rule, multitasking is bad for our productivity. While I shared a scientific paper telling that small amounts are good. Most of us don’t know how to multitask so it would be bad for us.
8. Group Similar Tasks
Grouping similar tasks is a good skill to develop if you want to accomplish more tasks in a shorter amount of time. It is a skill that improves our time management abilities. Not only that, but it also improves our multitasking capabilities which can amount to more productivity.
When I said that multitasking can be good for us, this is the reason.
While we can’t multitask on different tasks, we can multitask on similar tasks.
As an example, I multitask when I don’t need much focus on doing something. One such example is I multitask when I’m using chatting apps, or when I am working on some email.
The reason is they can all be grouped into social tasks which I can do multitasking.
Grouping similar tasks make us work on them efficiently especially if one thing is required for another.
Like how I do email while also checking on other messages.
If you can learn how to group similar tasks, you can multitask and still be very time efficient.
9. Learn To Say “No”
Learning to say “No” is essential if you want to be better at time management. The reason is that we all have a limited amount of time to work each day. Thus, we can only do the things that are really important to us. Learning to say no is respecting your own work.
Most people find it hard to say no.
What happens is a complete disaster.
When we can’t say no. Tasks will pile up and since we can’t finish these tasks, they will continuously pile up until we can’t work on them anymore.
This not only prevents us from reaching our own goals, but also the goals of others.
For example, when someone delegates a task to you and you said yes, it means that they trust you’ll do it. But not doing it since you have a lot to do means that you’ll just disappoint the person.
It is a good idea to try to only get goals that are reachable.
Make sure that your tasks are actionable. If you can’t do it because you are currently busy, then it is better to reject their offer.
They will thank you for it in the near future.
10. Eliminate Distractions
Eliminating distractions is important if you want to be good at time management. Distractions are what keeps us away from our focus so we tend to lose our quality of work. If you don’t want to have poor time management, then start eliminating distractions.
That means eliminating notifications if necessary,
For example, my phone is away from me while working here because I need my focus to finish this in as little time as possible.
If you’re not that then just put your phone into silent mode or put your phone into airplane mode.
The less distraction, the more you’ll stay focus.
The more focus, the faster you’ll finish the task at hand.
11. Don’t Be a Perfectionist
Perfectionism is an enemy of time management simply because we tend to procrastinate more often because of perfectionism. The more we find perfectionism, the less likely we’ll do our tasks which can pile up causing more problems in the future.
The perfect example of this is when I created this website.
I actually wanted to make my own website ever since I was in college. And then only made my first website at age 23.
The reason is I said that I want to learn more things before making one.
My perfectionism is blocking my way to reach my goals. The cause is that I’m not even learning how to make a website, I was just procrastinating because I think I need a lot of things to start.
Another example is my YouTube channel. I am scared that I don’t have the right equipment to record videos. But it turns out, you can just figure out things along the way.
Ever since I noticed my perfectionism from my blog, I did my best to just work on things and figure things out along the way.
My first youtube video is a video recorded on my phone and it looks awful since I don’t even know how to edit videos.
But it didn’t matter. I pushed through and I am happy that if I ever fail in YouTube, at least I tried.
If you want to see it, here’s my first youtube video.
12. Follow the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule also known as the Pareto principle states that 80% of the results come from 20% of input. This means that we can be very efficient with our time if we know what the 20% is and focus on it until we reach success.
Explaining this principle is hard in words so I think I will explain it with an example.
An example of the application of the 80/20 rule is when I was working on this website.
I know that what would bring 80% of my results to this website is to just create more articles. That’s why I focus all my energy on making more posts instead of wasting my time on other things.
Before, I tried to focus on everything including social media marketing, disturbing my friends to check out my new article.
It was a complete failure.
Right now, I am just focusing on creating more content for the viewers and it was way better. The results are surprising and I can see that my website is now rising because I am focusing on the 20% that creates 80% of results.
Will my blog get bigger with social media marketing? Definitely, but that would only account a little.
But making more content brought 50% growth to my website in just a month.
13. Remember To Rest
Remember that we can’t work to our fullest potential when we’re tired. That’s why rest and sleep are also important to include in your time schedule. Make sure to get enough sleep to work to produce the best result you can possibly give.
I discussed breaks earlier but there is a bigger break necessary in order for us to work efficiently.
That’s to have a proper rest and sleep.
Sleep has been proven to boost creative thinking skills and learning. So, we can work really well when we had a good sleep.
That’s why I make content right after waking up because my brain is just faster when I work early.
Another type of rest is having a vacation. It’s not a bad idea to have some vacation at other times if it is necessary.
14. Make Use of Our Technology
We live in an era where technology can help us in almost all aspects of our lives which includes our productivity. We can use these technologies to our advantage to make better time scheduling which prevents bad time management skills.
One of the things I’m using is a site blocker that blocks social media sites when I am working on my computer. This helps me concentrate on my tasks.
More examples are a combination of google drive and google sheets to track my progress on my website. This really helps since I can track my progress whenever I am because it is a cloud drive.
As you can see, you can use a lot of technology to your advantage and there are also free versions which work really well.
Scheduling? Try Google Calendar.
I also have Keep Notes in case I want to note some random ideas.
At our age, there are lots of free apps and programs we can use to be more efficient at time management. Thus, this would really help in preventing bad time management.
15. Celebrate Your Success
Celebrating your success increases your motivation to further improve your time management skills. This makes sure that you will still continue on improving yourself because you’ll start bundling success with having fun. This helps a lot in maintaining good time management skills.
Whenever I achieve something, I always treat myself to something I like.
The reason is that I stick more to my habits if I am rewarded.
Most of us are like that. The problem is that some are just harsh on themselves.
If you did a very good job, then give yourself something nice so you will continue.
Remember that time management is hard to do at the start, and the easiest way to continuously practice and make yourself better is to treat yourself when you did a good job.
These are the tips on how to avoid poor time management.
- KC, Diwas Singh. “Does Multitasking Improve Performance? Evidence from the Emergency Department.” SSRN Electronic Journal, 2013. Crossref, doi:10.2139/ssrn.2261757.