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Work Smarter, Not Harder: 18 Time Management Tips

Planning your day is important, and it often feels that there is not enough time in the day. Knowing how to manage time could be difficult to many, since life gets busy.  So how do you manage your day?

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you hand in your assignments/homework on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 tips on how to be a better time manager:

  1. Create a daily plan. Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.
  2. Peg a time limit to each task. Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.
  3. Use a calendar. Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. Google Calendar is great – I use it. It’s even better if you can sync it to your mobile phone and other devices you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are.
  4. Use an organizer. The organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.
  5. Know your deadlines. When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.
  6. Learn to say “No”. Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm ‘no’. Or postpone it for a later time.
  7. Target to be early. When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time. For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.
  8. Time box your activities. This means restricting your work to X amount of time.
  9. Have a clock visibly placed before you. Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.
  10. Set reminders 15 minutes before. Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important event to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.
  11. Focus. Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.
  12. Block out distractions. What’s distracting you in your work? Text messages popping in? Instant messages? Phone ringing? When I’m doing important work, I switch off my phone or put it on silent. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.
  13. Track your time spentEgg Timer is a simple online countdown timer. You key in the amount of time you want it to track (example: “30 minutes”, “1 hour”) and it’ll count down in the background. When the time is up, the timer will beep. Great way to be aware of your time spent.
  14. Do not fuss about unimportant details you will never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.
  15. Prioritize. Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and hardest tasks first. We tend to want to complete a bunch of little tasks instead of one big one and put off the hardest task and at times it never gets done.  
  16. Batch similar tasks together. For related work, batch them together.
  17. Eliminate your time wasters. What takes your time away from your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often. One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important school-related sites. While you’ll still check FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.
  18. Leave buffer time in-between. Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

Retrieved from: 20 Quick Tips For Better Time Management. (2016)