15 Time Management Tips That Actually Work
Sometimes it feels like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Instead of lamenting your lack of time, make the most of the time you do have with these time management tips.
Time management tip: Start the day with your most important work
As soon as you settle into your desk in the morning, get started on your most important work—the creative, strategic tasks that only you can do. If you start by checking your email or social media, you’ll end up wasting half your morning. “The next thing you know, two hours have gone by, you haven’t gotten to any of the important stuff, and the rest of your day is crowded with meetings and calls,” writes Bennett. Instead, follow these steps to be more productive in your first hour of work. Set a timer for two minutes to skim your inbox for emergencies, but if there’s nothing that requires your immediate attention, shift straight into your important work for a more productive morning that sets you up for a successful day.
Time management tip: Make replies prompt but not immediate
You should still be a reliable communicator, but dropping everything to answer people’s requests immediately not only forces you to adjust to their schedules and puts you off course, but it also doesn’t give you time to fully think out your reply. Bennett says she likes to wait 24 hours before responding to emails, calls, and other messages. “I find that this gives me time to prioritize, to consider people’s requests, and give them a solid answer,” she writes. If you’re saying no to someone, no need to give a long-winded explanation—just be vague and thank the person for thinking of you as you kindly decline.
Time management tip: Put everything on the calendar
Your calendar shouldn’t be limited to big meetings and deadlines. Use it to schedule every little thing, from clearing off your desk to taking an afternoon walk. “I hear from people all the time, ‘I wish I had time to write a book,’” writes Bennett. “You do. You are just spending that time on other things.” If you don’t write down nonessential activities, there’s a good chance you’ll let other tasks get in the way. In addition to these productive tricks to help you stop procrastinating, commit to blocking your time with a calendar. This will increase the chances that you’ll actually accomplish everything you’d hoped.
Time management tip: Be intentional with news consumption
Set aside dedicated time to consume news, rather than getting drawn into the 24-hour news cycle. Read the newspaper in the morning rather than scrolling through Twitter all day to find out what’s going on. And keep in mind that at its core, the news business is part of the entertainment industry, designed to tug your emotions and keep you engaged. “When you let other people—particularly people in the entertainment industry—form your opinions for you, or tell you what’s important, you give away your power,” writes Bennett. Watch and read mindfully, asking yourself whether your opinions on current events are yours or theirs.
Time management tip: Seek out new media
“Get out of your rut,” writes Bennett. “Doing, watching, or listening to the same things every day makes time feel like it’s slipping right through your fingers.” Instead of falling back on the same media, use one of many daily habits of naturally productive people and search the Internet for new ways to learn and stay entertained. Whether you’re into podcasts, games, meditations, craft projects, or artwork, you don’t have to restrict yourself to mass-market media. Spending time making new memories and finding new media will expose you to new culture and enrich your life.