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If you ever heard the late Jim Croce sing “Time in a Bottle,” you remember how great the idea of the song sounded at the time.
While it would be wonderful to have a bottle in which we could store time and then use it as needed, that is unfortunately not how life works in the real world.
However, you can use a series of techniques and create a mindset that is focused on getting the most out of each day.
In fact, I have no doubt you will discover that while there are still only 24 hours in a day, you will suddenly be getting far more done than you ever thought possible.
With today’s world feeling more hectic and stressful than ever, there is no better time than now to commit to getting your life better organized.
Whether in your professional life, personal life, or perhaps both areas, using a variety of time management techniques will help you get more stuff done.
And it will also improve how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Here is how to get started using time management techniques to live a happier life.
Proven Time Management Techniques To Live A Happier Life
What Is Time Management
While it is important to understand why time management is required for success, you must also understand exactly what the idea of time management is.
Simply put, most experts define time management as a set of practices, skills, principles, tools, and systems that allow you to use your time in ways that lets you accomplish what you want each day.
While I agree this definition does sound relatively simple, most people find the concept somewhat difficult to implement into their daily routines.
As for why time management is so important, here are some of the biggest reasons.
- Time is special
- Allows you to get what you want out of life
- Helpful in planning your priorities
- Accomplish more with less time and effort
- Gets rid of daily distractions
- Increases your willpower and self-discipline
In my view, it is crucial you remember that life puts many choices in front of you each day.
As a result, you have countless decisions to make regarding which options you will choose.
For example, do you allow yourself to be distracted by surfing social media for an hour, or do you choose to exercise willpower and self-discipline to complete a report your boss needs the next morning?
By having the ability to increase your willpower and self-discipline, you can find it becomes much easier to overcome procrastination and laziness.
Once you overcome these barriers to time management, life suddenly starts to feel much easier to manage.
Benefits Of Time Management
Once you discover the importance of time management, you will quickly start to ask yourself about its numerous benefits and how they will help you in your day-to-day activities.
While it is true that initially you may have to put in some extra time and effort to implement various ideas, I guarantee this initial hard work will pay off.
In my years of practicing time management skills, I have found some of the biggest benefits of time management have been the following.
- Less stress in all areas of life
- Reduction in self-made problems
- Creation of more opportunities each day
- Ability to improve your reputation
- More free time to pursue what you love
If you want to dive further into some of these areas, let’s examine the reduction of self-made problems.
If you are like me, you have certainly missed a deadline for a work project or forgotten an appointment.
While on the surface these sound like random acts that could not be helped, you and I both know better.
In fact, most if not all of these situations come about due to procrastination, laziness, and our inability to effectively manage our time.
By choosing instead to plan and prepare for the day, you can avoid self-made problems, decrease stress, and find you have more time to do the things you truly enjoy.
Time Management Styles
In order to begin using time effectively, you need to understand how you deal with work.
In other words, everyone has a method for how they handle tasks.
Here are the most common time management styles.
Try to identify which one you most closely align with so you can take the appropriate action to learn how to better manage your time.
A procrastinator is someone who puts off work, whether it is personal or professional, until the absolute last minute.
They claim they are great working under pressure, but their results say otherwise.
Common signs you are a procrastinator include missing deadline, an inability to schedule your time, and an over reliance on multitasking.
This person always thinks a job or task will take a lot less time than in reality.
They tend to overfill their schedules and then get overwhelmed because there is too much to do.
Common signs you are an underestimator include missing deadlines, feeling overwhelmed by your to do list, and over scheduling your days.
A perfectionist has good intentions.
They want to submit the best possible work.
The problem is, the work they create is never good enough. There is always one more thing they can do to make it better.
Common signs you are a perfectionist include missing deadlines, working overtime and skipping breaks, and feeling burnout.
This person is a good worker. The problem is they are too easily distracted.
Instead of focusing on the task at hand, this person is jumping from one thing to the next because the grass is always greener.
Common signs of a distractor include multitasking, not seeing work through to completion, and missing deadlines.
A firefighter is a person who is never happy unless they are working on multiple things at once.
This person tends to act as if the world is coming to an end and they need to solve every single problem right now.
Common issues with this person are burnout, skipping breaks and working overtime, missing deadlines, always asking “what’s next”.
#6. Time Martyr
This person is always putting others first.
No matter how much work they have, they have no issue putting their own work aside to help others.
Common signs of a time martyr include missing deadlines, not getting any of your work done, and multitasking.
Now that you know the most common time management styles we can begin to look at various time management methods to help you get more done and achieve more success.
10 Best Time Management Techniques
It’s time now to start looking at specific routines you can start using.
Since you’ll never be able to change the fact that there are only 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in one hour, and 24 hours in one day, the key to successfully using your time effectively is taking a new outlook to the issue.
If you’re eager to get started on your journey, read through these options and pick a couple that will become your go to time management philosophy.
I’ve used most of these over the years to get better organized and stress free.
But I have found that one or two have a major impact on me, so I stick with them to be more productive.
#1. 80/20 Rule
One of the most popular techniques of time management is the 80/20 rule.
The 80/20 rules states that, 80% of your results come from only 20% of your actions.
You take your most important tasks and organize them by importance and tackle the most time sensitive ones that will have the most impact on your day.
The advantage here is focusing on the right things that will get results.
The drawback is that in some cases, you might classify items incorrectly and as a result, focus on the wrong things.
#2. Eisenhower Matrix
This method has you organize your daily tasks into one of 4 quadrants.
Your outstanding items can be Important and Urgent, Important and Not Urgent, Unimportant and Urgent, and Unimportant and Not Urgent.
Breaking your list this way will help you to prioritize what needs to get done first and second.
It also helps you to know what you need to delegate and what to eliminate.
The main benefit here is prioritization. You have a clear expectation of what needs to get done.
The downside is it can be hard to determine the urgency and importance of some of your tasks.
#3. The Seinfeld Method
This time management approach comes from Jerry Seinfeld’s idea of not breaking the chain.
It works by having you turn a daily calendar block red when you work on a skill.
By working on a skill every day, you create a chain of red squares and are motivated to keep the chain going.
This motivation is the biggest driver in the success of this method.
The downside is some days there may be other tasks and activities you need to focus on and as a result, cannot keep the chain growing.
#4. Pomodoro Technique
This routine is also called the tomato timer.
It works by having you focus on a task for 25 minutes and then taking a 10 minute break.
Then you focus again on a task for 25 minutes before taking another short break.
It is up to you if you want to stick with the same task over and over until complete, or if you want to switch tasks each time.
This benefit is you get more done because you are only focusing for 25 minutes at a time.
The downside is there is no prioritizing tasks with it.
#5. To Don’t List
This is a twist to the common to do list.
Instead of writing down everything you need to get done, you write everything you won’t do today.
Mark on your list the items you plan on not doing. Then focus on the items you will do today.
The benefit here is you prioritize what is most critical, so you focus on those tasks.
The downside is it doesn’t address issues that might come up throughout the day.
#6. To Done List
Here is another twist to the to do list.
At the end of the day, you create a to done list of everything you completed.
The benefit here is you get motivated to tackle more tasks as you see what you’ve completed.
Also, it helps you to better plan, knowing what you still have to complete.
The downside to this method is it doesn’t help you to specifically meet deadlines.
You might be getting things done, but they might not be the ones on the tightest deadlines.
#7. Biological Prime Time
This idea takes a little more practice and work, but if you are willing to do it, it is a game changer.
We all have different times of the day when we are most energetic and focused.
For me, this time is first thing in the morning.
For you, it might be early afternoon or later at night.
By identifying your most productive times of the day, you can set aside the critical tasks for these times and focus on other tasks during the rest of your day.
The biggest benefit here is you get a lot more done.
By working on your main tasks during high energy times, you are able to work more efficiently.
The drawback is your high energy time might not coincide with your typical workday.
#8. Time Blocking
Time blocking works because you use it to completely plan out your day.
You first write down everything you want to accomplish daily, and then you prioritize each item and determine the time it will take.
Then you organize your time based on your list.
This method became popular when Elon Musk began talking about how he uses it to be productive.
The benefit is that you get more done because you allot specific time to your tasks.
You even schedule all of your breaks too.
The downside is there is no margin for error. If something pops up in the middle of the day, you don’t have a time set aside for it.
#9. Eat That Frog
This strategy will help you with time management at work.
To use it, you identify your most important task of the day, also known as your frog.
You then work on and complete this task first.
The idea is you do not move on to the next task until the first frog is done.
The benefit here is the most essential task tends to be the most difficult or the one we try to put off the most.
By tackling it and completing it, it motivates us for the rest of the day.
It also helps us to meet deadlines as you will identify a task with a close due date as a priority.
The downside to this is you may need to push through the task just to get started.
Kanban is a visual guide to help you accomplish more.
The easiest way to use it is to write out all of the steps of a project or task on sticky notes and organize them on a chart.
The chart will have 4 columns.
- To Do
As you work on each task, you move the sticky note to the appropriate column
This works for many because it is a complete visual reminder.
You see exactly how much work there is to finish a task completely, so you aren’t surprised as you go.
The downside is first, it doesn’t prioritize your tasks. And second, it can take a good amount of time to detail every step of the process.
Best Time Management Tools
While it is important to limit the amount of technology you have in your daily life, it is also smart to take advantage of those aspects of technology that can help improve your time management.
Therefore, since you are bound to have your cellphone or iPad with you while at work or at home, you might as well put it to good use for you in regards to time management.
While there are many ways to improve your time management, I suggest downloading and using a variety of tools and apps that are designed to help you make the best use of your time.
Having tried a variety of apps to help me in my quest for better time management, here are some I’m sure can help you as well.
Considered one of the best apps available for time management, Any.Do can be used with Android, iOS, and Chrome.
For users, one of its best features is the Any.Do Moment.
This lets you easily review your daily tasks each morning and prioritize what is important, allowing you to get in the habit of forming productive and time saving habits.
Using real-time tracking and an easy-to-understand dashboard, Focus Booster limits distractions and evaluates how you are using your time and where time is being wasted.
If you want to decrease daily anxiety that comes from procrastination, this app is for you.
If you are into chunking your activities into various groups, I recommend you definitely download the Clear app to your phone.
Compatible with Apple Watch, this app lets you organize your goals into categories that make them very manageable, allowing you to get more done.
In addition, it also sends notifications to keep you from procrastinating and eliminates tasks from your to do list as they are completed, allowing you to easily visualize your progress.
When you want to organize your ideas into one location, turn to the Evernote app.
Along with keeping lists of your tasks, it also allows for the storage of images.
A great tool for brainstorming, it will make sure you never again lose a great idea that pops into your head.
This is a unique app in that it allows you to track both your positive and negative thought patterns.
Moodnotes encourages healthier thinking habits and lets you see why you may procrastinate on certain types of tasks.
By doing so, the idea is you will learn to spot potential problems with your thinking before they impact your life.
The end result is allowing you to think more positively and accomplish more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is time management important?
Time management is important because you need to get things done.
And with so many things trying to get our attention, it is easy to become distracted and get nothing done.
By having a time management strategy in place, you limit the distractions and can get more things done.
What are the 4 D’s to time management?
The 4 D’s to time management are:
Using this strategy, you would delete any task that isn’t important or leads to the completion of a larger goal.
You delegate things that are time sensitive but that other people can do, thus freeing up your time.
You do anything that is important and no one else can complete.
Finally, you defer everything else.
By following the 4 D approach, you organize your calendar and remove many of the items on it, which leads to a lesser overwhelmed feeling.
What is the best time management tool?
The most effective time management technique varies by person.
Most people prefer using apps, which is why I covered so many of them in the section above.
For me, the best time management tool has been a tomato timer, or the Pomodoro Technique.
By focusing for a solid 25 minutes, I get more done than if I don’t time myself.
Over the course of an entire day, I find when I use this routine, I get much more accomplished.
What are some time management strategies for college students?
Good time management strategies for college students are the same ones I outlined above.
The only difference is you are applying them to your studies as opposed to work.
What are some time management best practices?
To succeed in managing your time, you need to understand your flaws and work on these.
Here are a handful of time management tips to help you overcome many of your flaws.
#1. Not Establishing Goals
Without goals, you are like a dog chasing its tail or a baby who is infatuated by a shiny object.
By deciding what your priorities are in life and then setting daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals, you’ll get the outcomes you desire.
#2. Don’t Be Afraid To Say No
Whether it is with your family or coworkers, don’t be afraid to say no now and then.
If you don’t, I promise you will find yourself in situation after situation where you will have constant conflicts in trying to achieve your goals.
Therefore, whenever you agree to take on a task, always have a deadline in mind and make sure you will still be able to accomplish what is most important to you.
#3. Cut Back On Meetings
While meetings are certainly beneficial, that doesn’t mean you have to have one each day.
Instead, be willing to cut back on the number of meetings you have at work.
By doing so, you’ll decrease wasted time, increase productivity, and without a doubt increase staff morale.
#4. Create An Organized Environment
Both at home and in your office, create an environment that exudes organization.
To do so, eliminate useless clutter.
Reorganize your filing system, having your most essential items in places where they are easily accessible.
Then organize an efficient workflow system that makes even the most complex task seem easy.
Every time you come home or enter your office, you will feel a sense of calm because everything is orderly.
#5. Take Care Of Yourself
Perhaps most importantly of all, take care of yourself in terms of physical health.
Along with getting enough sleep each night, make sure you eat a healthy diet and exercise as much as possible.
Remember that if you skimp on taking care of yourself, you’ll do nothing but make it much harder to get even the simplest tasks done on a regular basis.
#6. Electronic Time Wasters
While you swear you are only going to look at Facebook for a few minutes, before you know it an hour or two has passed that you will never be able to get back.
To keep this from happening, I suggest you give yourself a certain amount of time to check Facebook, Twitter, emails, and general web surfing.
To make the most of your time, try to spend no more than 1 hour on these activities.
If you can muster the willpower to do so, these electronic time wasters will be replaced by enjoyable, productive activities.
There are many ways to manage your time.
Whether you are using an app, visualization techniques, or other methods to help improve your time management, doing so will be one of the best investments you will ever make in yourself.
Not only will you get more things done, making you successful at everything you do, you will also be less stressed.
As I have learned from my experiences, while it may be difficult at first to make necessary changes in your life, upon doing so you’ll see each day in a whole new light.
Don Dulin is the founder and main author on Unfinished Success, a personal development website whose goal is to help you be the best you. By making small changes everyday to how you live life, you can live your best life. You can learn more about him here.