One of the most effective skills you can have in life is powerful and effective time management. The truth is that time is the greatest equalizer in life. No matter who you are, your age, income, gender, race or religion, you have the same amount of time as the next person. Whether you’re filthy rich or dirt poor, your time is the same. It’s not about how much time you have. It’s about how effectively you manage your time.
If you’re serious about achieving your goals, not only do you need to set those goals the right way, but you also have to get serious about avoiding distractions and becoming too immersed in the bad habits that you know you need to quit. Time-wasters need to fall by the wayside, and serious grit-and-bear-it hard work needs to take its place.
What are the best tips for managing your time?
- Set goals the right way.
There’s a right and wrong way to set goals. If you don’t set your goals the right way, then you’ll lack the proper targets, which will force you to fall off track. But when you set them the right way, the sky is the limit. Use the SMART goal setting method to help you see things through. And when you do set those goals, make sure you have powerful deep down meanings for wanting to achieve them.
- Find a good time management system.
One of the tips for managing your time is to find the right system to actually do it. The quadrant time-management system is probably the most effective. It splits your activities into four quadrants based on urgency and importance. Things are either urgent or important, both, or neither. Neither (quadrant 4) are the activities that you want to stay away from, but it’s the not-urgent-but-important quadrant (2) that you want to focus on.
- Audit your time for seven days straight.
Spend seven days straight assessing how you spend the time you do have right now. What are you doing? Record it in a journal or on your phone. Split this up into blocks of 30 minutes or an hour. What did you get done? Was it time wasted? Was it well spent? If you use the quadrant system, circle or log the quadrant that the activity was associated with. At the end of the seven days, tally up all the numbers. Where did you spend the most time? Which quadrants? The results might shock you.
- Spend your mornings on MITs.
Mark Twain once said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” His point? Tackle your biggest tasks in the morning. These are your most important tasks (MITs) of the day. Accomplishing those will give you the biggest momentum to help you sail through the rest of the day.
- Follow the 80-20 rule.
Another great time management tip is to use the 80-20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle. This rule states that 80% of the efforts comes from 20 percent of the results. In sales, it also means that 80 percent of the sales come from 20 percent of the customers. The trick? Identify the 20 percent of the efforts that are producing 80 percent of the results and scale that out. You can do this with meticulous tracking and analysis.
- Instill keystone habits into your life.
Charles Duhig poignantly coined the keystone habit in his book entitled, The Power of Habit. In architecture, the keystone is the stone that holds all other stones in place. Similarly, keystone habits help to not only solicit other good habits, but also help to eliminate bad habits as well. Focus on keystone habits and you’ll get much better at managing your overall time by making your habit development much easier.
- Schedule email response times.
Turn off your email throughout the day. When your email is pouring in, it’s easy to get distracted. Schedule time to read and respond to emails. If there’s something urgent, someone will call or text you. But when you have your email open, those distractions interrupt your thought flow and it’s harder to get back on track.
- Eliminate bad habits.
One of the biggest time-wasters we have are our bad habits. Whether it’s Netflix binge-watching, excessively surfing social media, playing games, going out frequently to drink with friends, or so on, those bad habits take away the precious little time that we do have. Use your time wisely by eliminating your bad habits if you’re serious about achieving big goals in life.
- Take frequent breaks when working.
One study suggests that you should work for 52 minutes and break for 17. You might not have the luxury to do that. But you should take frequent breaks. If you’re an entrepreneur working for yourself, this is crucial. It’s easy to run on fumes and not even know it. Keep your mental, emotional and physical states at peak levels by breaking frequently.
- Meditate or exercise every morning.
You might not think that this will help to better manage your time, but meditating and exercising every single morning gives you balance. Cut the toxins out of your life and get serious by doing this and watch as your energy, stamina and mental focus takes a drastic shift.
- Make to-do lists in the evening for the next day.
Every single evening before bed, make a list for the next day. Look at your goals and see what you can do to help move you closer. This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. But by making to-do lists, you’re effectively setting goals for the day. Daily goals are easier to achieve while helping to move us towards the longer and bigger goals. But that happens by creating to-do lists.
- Find inspiration when you’re feeling lackluster.
Turn to YouTube, TED Talks and any other inspirational source you can turn to when you’re lacking inspiration. It’s hard to stay on track with your time when you lose that drive inside of you. Find ways you can turn the fire back on by focusing inspiring content and seeking out others who’ve achieved big goals.
- Get a mentor who can guide you.
Finding a mentor is crucial. It’s easy to get distracted and dissuaded when you don’t have someone guiding you. But when you can personally rely on someone who’s been through the wringer and can help you achieve your goals, it’s easier to stay on track with your time. Find a good mentor that can help you along your path.
- Turn off social media app alerts.
Incessant social media app alerts aren’t helping you with your time. It’s definitely hurting you. Turn them off. You don’t need alerts every moment or to know everything happening with your friends. It’s not important. What’s most important is to have some peace of mind and be better able to focus on the task at hand.
- Declutter and organize
Studies have determined that clutter in our environment helps us to lose focus. When we lose focus, we lose time. If you want to avoid that, declutter and organize. Don’t do it all at once. Start small. One drawer today. A shelf tomorrow. Maybe a closet the next day. Just one per day. You build momentum and eventually find yourself turning into an organizing warrior.
Article Written by: R.L Adams – Contributor for Entrepreneur.com
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