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Usually when people hear “time management skills”, they think in terms of application in a college or business setting.
In reality, time management is the secret weapon you need to master in order to get better results in your personal life, relationships, and health and fitness. You will see benefits other than better grades or a promotion at work.
Those benefits show in a number of ways, including a fit physique, better mental health, and higher satisfaction with our lives overall.
Manage your time well, and you will feel more in control of your life, rather than letting life events control you.
There is no single “perfect” system of time management, either in business or personal life. However, there are various time management tips and best practices that will enable you to find the best balance to get the results you want in your life.
Mastering time management skills is something you can set about doing in a methodical way.
Really, you are already practicing time management whether you know it or not. It is more a matter of whether you already do it well or if you need some work.
The following tips are for improving your time management skills, building on those that you will have naturally. Even cavemen used time management; they just had a more defined to-do list. Time had to be allocated for hunting, and that time had to be used to get food to make it possible for them and their people to survive.
Real time management success comes down to knowing what you want, figuring out how to accomplish it, setting a reasonable timeframe to make it happen, then the most important ingredient of execution.
Time Management Tips
Define Your Broad Targets
You can’t get to where you’re going without knowing your destination. So what do you want to do? Lose weight? Get a date?
Create SMART Goals
This is where you will become more specific on exactly what you want to make happen and when you want to achieve it. Learn more about SMART Goals here.
Break It Down
What are the smaller specific steps that need to happen in order to get you to your endgame? Start from the end with the achievement or your SMART goal and work backward to each step that will need to have happened along the way. Now you have something resembling a map to your destination. These steps become milestones for you to focus on during your daily and weekly routines.
I recommend using a good executive planner or at the minimum a decent notebook to plan out your SMART goals, and to list out your Annual, Quarterly, Weekly, and Daily milestones. You can make adjustments along the way if you come up a little short or (even better) if you overshoot your targets.
Cut The Fat
Make a list of things you can do less often or stop doing altogether. If you’re watching 3 hours of Netflix a night, but complain you have no time to do the things that will get you where you truly want to be….it’s time to be honest with yourself. Do a time audit and be ruthless with your cuts.
Schedule Your Tasks & Do The Work
Use your planner to fill your day with tasks. Use a Pomodoro timer to put a little urgency behind each task. If you are in a strong workflow then you can do away with the timer. The key is that you keep showing up and putting in the effort consistently.
Life happens. Maybe you missed a task or a day’s worth of tasks. Maybe you got sick or a family emergency came up. It’s okay. Get back up and dust yourself off and keep going.
Be Kind To Yourself
Stay motivated and cut out the things that don’t work for you. But also have patience and compassion for yourself. Nobody masters time management and goal achievement overnight. It is a lifelong process and there will be ups and downs along the way. If you cut out 3 hours of Netflix in Step 5, maybe you can reward yourself with an hour of Netflix after a productive day. This way you will use your cravings as a reward for a positive behavior instead of an escape from it.
If you can improve your time management skills, you will find your life more satisfying and less stressful. You will start to see your life for what it is: a marathon and not a sprint. For most people, life just sweeps them along in a haze of inactivity, over which they have little to no control.
That can be very stressful and demoralizing over the long term.
You can take control of your time and make the most of it and by doing so make the most of your life.