Time Management Skills for Life

Learn the number one life skill that schools DON'T teach us!



What is time management and why does it matter?


Time management is the ability to use one’s time effectively or productively. This is typically done by being proactive, organizing and planning the amount of time spent on a particular project or task.

This might seem counter-intuitive to some people. Why waste your time learning about time management and planning when you could use that same time to get your work done?


To which I respond: when was the last time that you were able to get up, complete everything in your day on time without planning ahead, without forgetting anything and without getting stressed in the process?


Probably never. So you should care.


Effective time management skills comes with some major benefits:

  • Less stress

  • Increased productivity and efficiency

  • Greater sense of accomplishment

  • Increased levels of goal achievement

  • Increased opportunities in personal and professional life

Just being less stressed can drastically alter your day to day.


The ability to manage time efficiently is a highly underrated and underappreciated skill to have - especially in our crazy stupid busy modern day lives.


And this isn’t a skill that we are taught in school. Some of us are lucky to get introduced to this in university or college but even during school I found myself trying to balance too many plates which left me constantly scrambling to finish papers before deadlines and cramming for exams.


We’ve all been there a time or two.


But what about in the work place? Surely, people must have some sort of system in place to ensure they are productive between 9 and 5, right? Maybe sometimes, but even this is unlikely.


The truth is that the majority of people aimlessly grind their way through the chaos of each day merely hoping they complete their to-do list, often getting burnt out in the process.


And burnout can be difficult to recover from.


But before getting into the tips and techniques to help you properly manage your time, I’d like to demystify a few common misconceptions.


“I’m too busy”


Being “too busy” is a glorified concept. There is a very distinct difference between being busy and being effective.


For example, if you are paid by the hour then you will be paid the same amount of money for your time in the office, regardless of the work that you accomplish throughout the day. You might look busy, you might even believe you’re busy, but where are the results to back it up?


People are focused on being busy rather than the results they are producing.


If you truly are too busy then it is more likely that you have too many projects on the go and aren’t managing your time well OR you simply don’t care enough about the task to add it to your list.


“There aren’t enough hours in the day”


We all have the same 24 hours in a day. So why is it that some people are able to accomplish more than others in the same amount of time?


The answer is simple.


High achievers know the difference between being busy and being efficient.


Highly effective people know how to manage their time correctly. They are proactive, they plan and keep an organized list of the tasks they want to accomplish within a given timeframe.


If you have a long list of things to do but no plan of action to accomplish them, you will likely be left feeling like a chicken with your head cut off.


Work smarter, not harder.


How to Get Started


The best way to get started is to track your time for a week. It is imperative that you are honest with yourself when you do this or else it won’t work. You would only be fooling yourself and (ironically) would be wasting more time.


There are 168 hours in a week. We spend approximately one third of that time sleeping. People tend to average between 6 and 8 hours of sleep per night, which leaves you with somewhere between 112-126 hours in your week.


That is a significant amount of time to complete tasks - if you manage your time wisely.


Pay close attention - annoyingly close attention - to where, what, and how long you give your time and energy to. Here are some questions to consider when you track time.

  • How much time do you spend getting ready in the morning?

  • How often are you late?

  • How much time do you spend on your phone?

  • Is that time spent productive or is it spent mindlessly scrolling social media?

  • What time do you go to bed?

  • How many hours of sleep do you get per night?

  • Is it enough or too much sleep?

It is important to ask ourselves these questions because they all consume our time and energy. So if you find you are constantly late for work in the mornings, maybe this means you need to get up earlier or try to shorten your morning routine.


Once you have completed a week of tracking time you will be able to see where your time is spent being productive and where it is being wasted.


*As I go through my tips and techniques for effective time management, I will leave you with some helpful links to kick-start your journey to a more productive life*


Time Management Tips




Schedule your week


Planning your week is key to becoming productive and efficient in your day to day.


I typically plan my weeks every Sunday. I start by brain dumping everything that I know will need to be done during the week on a piece of paper. Then I schedule in the tasks that have specified days and times in my calendar. This way I can see where my free time is outside of work and training.


Once this is done, I schedule the rest of the tasks I need to complete in the free time slots that are left.

Check out this helpful yearly planner - it is already completely set up to help you schedule your days and weeks down to the hour!


PLUS a bonus goal project section!!


This is something I was lucky to learn when I was in university. My schedule was all over the place with classes spread throughout the day and practices and games on top of it. This made it much easier to schedule time to study for whatever subject was most pressing at the time.


Which leads me to my next tip.


Prioritize


You have GOT to be able to prioritize.


Some weeks will be busier than others. And if we aren’t able to prioritize during the busier weeks, all hell will break loose.


You have to be able to identify which tasks are the most important. Typically I do this by considering deadlines first. For example, if you have two important projects and one is due Tuesday and the other Wednesday, you should prioritize the first task.


"What if Wednesday’s project is more important than Tuesday’s?"


Ultimately, that will be a decision you have to make. If the Wednesday project is worth significantly more and requires more time and the Tuesday project is small and relatively unimportant and can be put off for a day, then maybe it is best to make Wednesday the priority.


But again, that is a decision you will need to make on your own.


Once I have gone through deadlines, I highlight which tasks are of more importance. This way I am able to delegate the time needed to each task when I am scheduling my week.


Oftentimes, the difficult part becomes when we have to choose between something we really want to do and something that will bring us closer to our goals.


We have to make sacrifices for the things we truly want in life, and sometimes that means missing the party.


It’s all about the long game. Short term sacrifice for long term gain.




Make a list


Sometimes one of the simplest things we can do is make a list. Because of my lifestyle, I tend to make a daily list of things to accomplish to ensure I am on track for the week.


However, this can be done daily, weekly, monthly, whatever YOU need to help you keep track of what you need to do.


Not to mention that satisfying feeling of crossing them off when they are completed ;)




Quit Multitasking


“I’m good at multitasking” is something I hear people say often. This is actually something I used to say myself - and I believed it! But unfortunately, it just isn’t true.


Studies have shown that we aren’t as good at multitasking as we think we are. Some research suggests that we are up to 40 percent less productive when we multitask.


This is because our brain power is being divided rather than focusing fully on one task. When we focus on multiple tasks, we are giving less brain power to each task, ultimately reducing our level of efficiency. When we switch from one task to another it also takes a significant amount of time to refocus fully on the task at hand.


New research even suggests that multitasking can lower IQ level and cause cognitive impairment (yikes!!)


All the more reason to quit trying to do a thousand things at once. Pick a single task and focus solely on that task alone.



Learn to Delegate


Believe it or not, you don’t HAVE to do everything yourself. It’s hard to let go of control every now and then, especially when it has a high degree of importance in our lives.


I had a really difficult time doing this at first. But once I started to trust others to handle the small things I didn’t need to spend my time on, life got so much easier!


Assigning tasks to others is a great management skill that will free up more time so that you can pursue other goals.



Minimize distractions


Distractions can come in many forms. I don’t know about you guys but I cannot (CANNOT) focus if I am in a messy work space. So before I get to work, I take some time to tidy things up, this way my brain can work efficiently and effectively.


As humans, we are visual creatures. Our brains are stimulated by visuals and our eyes consume our surroundings which, in turn, means that our brain is constantly calculating what is going on around us - even if we aren’t aware of it.


For example, when you are working and see a notification pop up on your phone your instant reaction is (probably) to look at your screen and check it out. Even if you don’t open your phone, it still distracts you from whatever you were doing before, taking away precious time and brain power.


Turn off the distractions, whatever they may be.



Time Blocking


This is one of my favourite techniques. I have used it for about four years and it has honestly changed my life.


Time blocking is a productivity technique for time management where you break down the day or week into smaller time frames - typically by the hour. You “block” a certain period of time and dedicate it to a single task (I touched on this a bit in the first tip)


Basically this technique allows you to be more productive by completely scheduling your time every hour. For example, if you have set time for lectures, fill those in first and then fill in the time gaps around it with other important tasks like studying or writing a paper.


There are apps you can download on your phone for time blocking, although I would recommend going old school with pen and paper (simply because this will avoid the tempting distractions on your screen).



Eat That Frog


Not literally.


This is a really useful book on time management and the first rule is to do the hardest task first.


You know, that task that you absolutely dread. Whether it is taking time to research for a class or getting in a cardio session at the gym.


Why do the hardest thing first? Reason number one - you will have more energy to complete the task if it is first on your list. Reason number two - once it is complete, it is smooth sailing for the rest of the day!


Whatever your frog is, eat it.



Batching Tasks


Batching is another great time management technique that will help you get more accomplished in a shorter amount of time.


Since I run social media platforms for different companies, I block off a day so I can plan to sit down and focus on the task at hand. Typically that involves researching topics, writing blogs and creating social media posts.


Doing this allows me to accomplish a significant chunk of my work in a shorter amount of time because the tasks are “like-tasks” or similar in nature.


Students can easily apply this to their studying habits ;)



Take More Breaks


Studies have shown that people who take breaks more frequently have higher levels of achievement. This might seem counterintuitive, especially in the United States, where working around the clock is often praised.


But working all day, every day is a recipe for burnout (which we want to avoid at all costs) and it decreases our level of output.


Getting up and moving around for a few minutes boosts energy levels by circulating blood in our bodies and increasing oxygen intake.


Next time you’re feeling a bit sluggish at your desk, try walking around or incorporating some sort of physical exercise to rejuvenate your body and mind!



Pomodoro


The Pomodoro technique utilizes the power of time blocking and taking breaks together.


Essentially set a timer to work without distractions for 25-30 minutes and when the timer is complete you allow yourself to take a 5 minute break.


I personally would recommend longer work periods, mainly because studies have shown that it takes approximately 20 minutes to fully refocus your mind on a project.


But test it out for yourself to find the best time frames for you to get productive!



Sleep


It goes without saying that sleep is one of the most important parts of a properly functioning mind and body - we spend a third of our life doing it!


So make sure that you are catching enough Zz’s every night or else it will really kill any motivation to get shit done!


If you are the kind of person that has a difficult time falling asleep, try these products before getting into bed - they have helped me immensely on nights when my brain just does not want to shut off!!


Relax Sleep Aid by FNX Fit


Deep Sleep Body Cocoon Lotion by This Works


Essential Oil Set by PURE AROMA


And last, but certainly not least:


Just Get Started

If you want to be more productive then you need to hunker down and just start. Take a few minutes to clear your mind , mix in a coffee (or two) and focus in on the goals you want to accomplish! If I can do it, you can too!!


I hope that these time management tips and techniques are able to help you as much as they have helped me get through some of my most stressful and overwhelming days!


Here are a couple other book recommendations to further your time management skills:


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey


Getting Things Done - David Allen


The 4 Hour Work Week - Tim Ferriss


Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less - Greg McKeown

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Always remember that you have the power to create a life you love! -Tay

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