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Time Management Is About More Than Life Hacks



Time Management Is About More Than Life Hacks
Project creep, slipping deadlines, and a to-do list that seems to get longer each day - these experiences are all too common in both life and work. With the new year resolution season upon us, many people are boldly trying to fulfill goals to "manage time better," "be more productive," and "focus on what matters."


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Prerequisites for Effective Time Management

Trying to apply time management tools without having prerequisite time management skills is unlikely to work effectively. The prerequisites are:

  • Awareness about time being a limited resource.
  • Arrangement and designing of goals, plans, schedules, and tasks for maximum time-efficiency.
  • Adaptation in your use of time, including adjustments and improvisation.

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    Steps To Improve Time Management

    Steps To Improve Time Management

    The way to improve your Time Management skills requires us to figure out where to focus. This can be done by:

    • Getting an objective self-assessment done by your peers or boss, or establishing a baseline behavior to measure your performance against.
    • Understanding that it is your skills, not your personality or preferences that can be developed to provide the best results.
    • Identifying the key skill(s) that you need to prioritize, and avoiding spreading yourself too thin.

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      Developing Awareness Skills

      The key factor to consider when developing awareness skills is that effectiveness (doing things well) is as important as efficiency (doing things fast).

      • Find which time of the day is your 'peak performance time.
      • Treat time as money, a limited resource, and create a 'time budget' for your to-do list.
      • Measure and evaluate the projected time vs the actual time taken.
      • Consider which of the tasks create follow-up tasks that take up your time later.
      • Take into consideration the 'opportunity cost' of spending time in an activity.

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        Developing Arrangement Skills

        Developing your arrangement skills isn't about managing your work, but about managing your life, taking control of it and structuring/arranging the work accordingly.

        • Prioritize your activities and obligations instead of simply making a list.
        • Learn to distinguish between urgent tasks, which may not be important, and important tasks that are significant and have real value.
        • Use a calendar app to plan out tasks and appointments, while making sure you have uninterrupted time for yourself.
        • Make realistic estimates of time allotted for completion of a task.
        • Break down a large goal into small goals if needed.

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          Developing Adaptation Skills

          Adaptation skills are tested/developed in high-pressure or challenging situations while maintaining one's calm.

          • Tie your time management behavior to your already established habits.
          • Short bursts of effort work best for overwhelming tasks and they also help avoid procrastination.
          • Track your time and to-do list with an App, and provide a detailed description in the reminder for important tasks, ensuring your future self doesn't ignore them.
          • Avoid social media and minimize all notifications during critical work time.
          • Create a contingency plan while you envision possible outcomes of the ongoing plan.

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            Failing to Keep a To-Do List

            The trick with using To-Do Lists effectively lies in prioritizing the tasks on your list. Many people use an A – F coding system (A for high priority items, F for very low priorities). 

            Not Setting Personal Goals

            Goals give you a destination and a vision to work toward. When you know where you want to go, you can manage your priorities, time, and resources to get there. Goals also help you decide what's worth spending your time on, and what's just a distraction.

            Not Prioritizing

            It's essential to learn how to prioritize tasks effectively if you want to manage your time better.

            Determine if a task is high-yield and high-priority, or low-value, "fill in" work. You'll manage your time much better during the day if you know the difference.

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            Automate Decisions

            Automate Decisions
            • Transfer money to your savings account every time you receive a paycheck
            • Choose all your outfits for your week on Sunday and hang them in the closet in order
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            Single Task

            Switching between tasks can have damaging costs to our work and productivity.

            Develop the habit of single-tasking by forcing your brain to concentrate on one task and one task only. Put your phone away, close all the browser windows and apps that you don’t need. Immerse yourself in this task. Only move to the next one when you’re done.

            Brian Tracy

            Brian Tracy

            Time management is not a peripheral activity or skill. It is the core skill upon which everything else in life depends.” 

            The Wild Procrastinator

            You are indecisive and often deals with things in the nick of time. But procrastination has a physical and social toll as your body and your coworkers get stressed over it.


            The Perfectionist

            You are obsessed with your idea of perfection and end up spending way too much time on a specific task. This leads to feelings of being overwhelmed, missed deadlines and delaying other priorities.

            Solution: Make sure you have achievable standards that don’t get in the way. Train yourself to do things that fall short of your idea of perfection until you begin to accept that the “imperfect” but functional is enough for most things.

            The Underestimator

            You often miscalculate how long it will take to do something to the point of missing deadlines and having to reschedule.

            Solution: Schedule more time than you expect to take to finish a task, learn how to work faster and to estimate time more accurately. Reviewing past assignments duration will give you good time estimates for future reference.