Time management skills are beneficial for everyone, regardless of age. Learning and putting these skills into practice during childhood helps people continue these habits into adulthood, which can help you be more productive in your personal and professional life. Knowing how to manage your time will help you balance responsibilities, take on more tasks, reduce stress, and feel confident about handling anything that comes along. Establish these good habits to be ready for success in the future.
Time Management for Professionals
- Break Up Tasks: A large project can feel overwhelming. Instead of looking at the big picture, break down a project into smaller parts that you can finish in part of a day or a couple of days at most. Breaking up a big project into more manageable tasks helps you plan the entire scope of the work so you're more likely to get it done on time.
- Prioritize: Look at all of the tasks that need to be done and decide which ones need to be done first. Prioritizing tasks ensures that you accomplish the most important tasks first. It also narrows your focus so you're not being distracted by less important things.
- Keep a Clean Work Area: Working in a cluttered space makes it difficult to be productive. Mess and clutter are often distracting. Cleaning your work area energizes you and helps you feel ready to accomplish your tasks.
- Make a Plan: Plan each day the night before so you'll be ready to get to work right away in the morning. Make estimates of the amount of time it will take you to complete each task on your to-do list. Be ready to make adjustments during the day if things come up.
- Revisit Your Plan: Keep your daily plan up to date. If unexpected tasks arise, restructure your plan to keep it manageable. Figure out which things can be rescheduled for the next day.
- Decline Tasks When Necessary: Effective time management includes knowing when you can't take on a task. If a request comes in that you just can't fit into your day, don't be afraid to say that you can't do it.
- Minimize Interruptions: Staying on task and focused involves minimizing distractions and interruptions. Keep your creative flow going by using a "do not disturb" sign if necessary. Put your phone on silent to avoid distractions.
- Delegate: If you have more than you can handle, delegate some tasks to others. Asking others for help lets you maintain your schedule, and it may even help someone else develop a new skill.
- Use a Paper Calendar: While electronic calendars and planners may be all the rage, there's something to be said for maintaining a paper calendar. Writing appointments, tasks, and goals down on paper helps commit these things to memory. You also have more time to analyze and think about what you're scheduling for yourself when you keep a paper calendar.
- Make Time to Reflect: Take a few moments each day to reflect on what you accomplished and anything that might not have gone so well. Make adjustments if you didn't correctly estimate the amount of time necessary for certain tasks.
Time Management for Students
- Stay Organized: Keep your assignments and homework organized so you don't misplace anything.
- Minimize Distractions: Turn your phone to silent and put it away when you're working on schoolwork. Choose a quiet spot to work to eliminate distractions.
- Make To-Do Lists: Make a to-do list every day that includes everything you need to do. Stick to your list, and cross items off as you finish them. Don't forget to add relaxing to your list each day, too.
- Set Priorities: Look over everything you need to do, then schedule the most important things first so you're sure to accomplish them.
- Schedule Studying: Add studying to your daily plan to make it happen. Find a quiet place to work, and don't let anything interfere with this time.
- Budget Your Time: Allocate a specific amount of time each day for your activities. Then, try to maintain your schedule as much as possible, making adjustments if necessary.
- Figure Out Your Best Time: Everyone has a time of day when they are most focused and productive. Figure out your best time, and schedule the most challenging or difficult things to do during this part of the day.
- Don't Waste Time: Surfing your social media accounts and watching television can be relaxing, but it's easy to waste a lot of time with these activities. Be aware of the amount of time you spend not accomplishing much, and minimize this time.
- Use Downtime: When you come upon unexpected downtime, use it effectively.