When you’re trying to achieve a goal, the best tool in your toolbox is time management. Everyone has 24 hours in a day, even those who have built a billion-dollar company. I’ve learned throughout my career, those who are most successful have simply used that time more wisely.
“One of the most effective skills you can have in life is powerful and effective time management,” shares R.L. Adams, an author, software engineer, and founder of a small business. “If you’re not managing your time well, there’s no way you’re going to reach your goals at work and the life outside of it. Sure, you might make some progress. But your time management will be an uphill battle if you don’t take your time seriously.”
As you ring in the new year, why not make one of your resolutions better time management? Here are some 8 ways I’ve gathered that will help achieve that goal.
- Use Your Social Time Wisely
Social media use is very popular today; for some people, it’s the first thing they do in the morning. If you’re starting a business, it can also be instrumental in marketing. However, it can easily suck up several hours of your day. If you’re like the average person, you only spend about an hour each day on social media, but you usually check it in the middle of other tasks. This slows down you momentum and decreases your daily accomplishments.
You may not be able to turn your back on social media completely, especially if you’re using it to build an online presence. However, you can use it more wisely by setting specific times to get on social media that don’t interrupt your workflow.
You can also use tools to automate your social media. For example, SocialCaptain is a useful Instagram growth tool that grows your Instagram presence 24/7 without you touching a finger (here’s a detailed SocialCaptain review). Tools like this allow you to accomplish much more on social media in a shorter timeframe.
- Do a Time Audit
If you want to use your time more wisely, know where it’s being wasted. A time audit can reveal exactly when you’re most and least productive and which activities are making it difficult to stay focused.
There are software tools and apps that can help you create a time audit, but one of the best ways to monitor your time is keeping a daily calendar of activities for at least a week. You can compare and contrast times and activities to guide you in changing behaviors.
- Create a To-Do List
If you view everything to be accomplished as one big chunk, it will feel insurmountable. Using a to-do list can help.
“All goals and projects are made up of smaller parts that need to be accomplished in order to achieve the goal, or complete the project. Create to-do lists for each goal and project, listing all the measurable steps that need to be accomplished,” William Lipovsky told Forbes. “Aside from keeping you focused, this also motivates you as you are able to see what you have already achieved, and what remains.”
You may use a planner, Excel spreadsheet, Word document, or a notebook to write everything down. There are also apps that specialize in to-do lists to keep you focused.
- Time Your Tasks
It also helps to create realistic time limits for each task. Set a timer or a deadline for each. It almost becomes a game as you race to beat the timer.
Just remember that there may be interruptions that will prevent you from completing a task within the timeframe you set. This doesn’t mean you should abandon it. Instead, go back to the drawing board and set a new time to complete each task.
- Wake Up Earlier-But Don’t Sacrifice Sleep
When speaking to many highly successful entrepreneurs, you’ll find many wake up early. The more time they have in the quiet hours of the morning, the more they’ll be able to get done throughout the day.
Scott Adams, the creator of the famous comic strip Dilbert, for example, says that early mornings are his sweet spot.
“Some people are just morning people, myself included, so for me it is easy to get up in the morning, that’s the best part of my day,” Adams told CNBC. “Typically speaking I’m happiest, smartest, most creative and most optimistic between the hours of 4 and 8 a.m.”
Adams also recognizes the necessity of getting enough sleep. Everyone is different, but the majority of people need at least eight hours to function well, which may mean adjusting your lifestyle, so you can go to bed earlier.
“Being tired can be dangerous,” he says. “It takes a pretty predictable chunk off your IQ.”
- Organize Your Workspace
Do you have a dedicated space to work every day? If you don’t, you’ll have a difficult time separating yourself from distractions as you work towards your goals. Create an office space for any goals, whether work-related or personal, that you want to accomplish.
Perhaps worse than no workspace is an unorganized one. A cluttered and confusing space is overwhelming, and you’ll find yourself avoiding it. Take a few minutes on a Saturday to organize your office so that when you need to work, everything is in the right spot, and you can work much more efficiently.
- Schedule in Activities and Appointments
You’ll have important responsibilities beyond your life goals, such as keeping up with friends, going to your child’s basketball game, or going to the dentist. You can’t shove them to the backburner, but stopping in the middle of other important tasks to accomplish them can be counter-productive. Instead, add outside responsibilities to your existing schedule.
“Most of us are very good at keeping meetings and appointments when other people are involved,” reasons Lou Markstrom of CIO.” ” … If you need to get a specific task or item complete, schedule it just like you would a meeting with the CEO and honor your commitment to it in the same way.”
This way, you don’t drop the ball in any of your responsibilities while achieving your ultimate objective.
- Say No
You may have learned that saying “yes” more often can set you up for success in many situations, but it’s just as important to know how to say “no.”
“It’s great to be known as reliable, but never let people take advantage of your kindness,” says Claire Brenner of G2Crowd. “If you’re slammed and a coworker asks you for a favor, you are allowed to say no. You don’t have to be rude about the matter (and you shouldn’t), but putting your own tasks ahead of a colleague’s is perfectly acceptable.”
Learning to say no will allow you to prioritize your most important tasks. You can still lend a helping hand on occasion, but this skill will prevent what you do for other people from overtaking your own goals and accomplishments.