Time is something that every person has, and even with all the time in the world, you’ll still never be able to do everything you want to do. The secret to using your time wisely is knowing what your goals are and then finding the best way to achieve them in the most efficient manner possible. Here are some tips and tricks you can use to make sure your time is spent wisely and on task.
Get rid of procrastination
The motivational cliché about procrastination is that it’s the thief of time. (Some sources trace that back to Benjamin Franklin, so it may be true.) Without procrastination, you could get more done, spend more time with your friends, or learn a new language; whatever your goal might be, procrastination doesn’t help you reach it. There are several ways to reduce your procrastination; these tips and tricks can help.
The first step in reducing procrastination is recognizing that it happens. If you know what causes you to put off working on a project, you’re more likely to recognize when you’re doing it and be able to stop yourself. To help with that, write down your biggest problem areas for procrastination—are there certain situations or tasks that make it easy for you to put off work? Make a list of those situations, then try these three tips.
Try breaking up big projects into smaller tasks. When you have a big project due, it can be daunting to think of how much work is involved. Instead of focusing on how much work you need to do, focus on doing one small part of it. Then tackle another small section, and another after that; before you know it, your whole project will be done.
Don’t multitask. Focus on doing one thing at a time
Multitasking, or attempting to juggle multiple tasks at once, has long been thought of as a necessity in today’s fast-paced world. But it turns out that multitasking is simply not effective for our productivity; studies have found that those who attempt to multitask are less efficient in their work. Focus on doing one thing at a time. It will help you use your time wisely and focus on what needs to be done immediately.
The key is to choose one thing that needs to be done right away. The next step is to check off that one task, so you can move on to something else. While it may be hard in your first few tries, with practice you’ll find that multitasking can actually help free up time for more important tasks.
Take Breaks After Every 90 Minutes
If you really do value your time, it’s important to break up your day into 90-minute increments. Set an alarm and after every 90 minutes, get up, stretch, or even go for a quick walk. This will help keep you motivated during those long stretches at work and prevent burnout later in the day.
If you’re working, it can be hard to stay motivated. Even if your job is exciting or you’re passionate about what you do, there are going to be long stretches where you just have a lot of work ahead of you. If you don’t take breaks, it’s likely that by mid-afternoon fatigue will set in and your motivation will drop off significantly.
If you stay at your desk for hours on end, you’re missing out on a lot of benefits. Not only are breaks important for keeping your energy levels high throughout your workday but research has also shown that taking breaks helps boost memory and productivity.
Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you have to do it. Try delegating responsibilities that are outside of your core competencies. Need new business? Hire a salesperson. Don’t know how to create a marketing plan? Call in a consultant. Skilled with video editing software? Seek out someone who is an expert, and show him or her what you want done.
In fact, most people can’t do everything themselves, even though we all have a tendency to believe we can. The truth is that when you try to do too many things in a given day, week or month, your performance will suffer on each of them. Effective delegation leads to better results with less effort! For every hour you spend doing something yourself, you can usually save three hours by delegating it effectively. Now that’s time-saving at its best!
Here’s a real-world example that illustrates how delegation can help you use your time wisely. If you’re not good with financial analysis or creating marketing plans, don’t try to do them yourself!
Avoid trying to finish all tasks in a day
One of my favorite tips for how to use your time wisely is learning to say no when necessary. This might sound contradictory in a post that recommends getting more done, but it’s not. It just means you’re being realistic about what you can accomplish on any given day, so your tasks are achieved without stress or unnecessary sacrifice. Don’t try to finish every project, meeting, assignment or daily task; focus on creating quality over quantity when using your time wisely.
Don’t try to be perfect. Perfectionism is something that can cause you to be indecisive or procrastinate. You might avoid starting tasks because you’re not sure if they will turn out perfectly, or you might spend too much time on one task because you’re afraid it won’t meet your expectations.
Another time-saving tip for how to use your time wisely is embracing minimalism. This doesn’t mean you have to live in a Spartan, austere environment. But it does mean doing away with as much clutter as possible—both physical clutter and mental clutter. Clutter can waste time that could be spent on more important things. Minimalism means being organized so you always know where things are, so you can quickly access what you need when you need it.
According to a study from The Journal of Social Psychology, people who multitask tend to be more stressed, have more difficulty concentrating, and have less work satisfaction than those who focus on one task at a time. Try eliminating distractions like cell phones or TVs in your workspace in order to encourage better concentration. Schedule times throughout your day for checking social media and email. If you’re trying to get work done, switch off Wi-Fi or turn off your phone in order to avoid distractions.
If you can, stay away from all technology when you need to focus on work. If you have no other option, try using tools like Freedom or StayFocusd that block websites and apps for a pre-defined period of time.
To make it more tempting, work in a cafe or another public space. This will help discourage you from checking your phone, especially when there’s no good excuse for doing so.
Create systems that make things easier over the long run.
When we’re looking for ways to be more productive, it’s easy to focus on short-term fixes. These can help you meet tight deadlines or handle a particularly difficult client—but don’t let them get in your way if they don’t mesh with how you do things over a longer period of time. Instead of letting new tools slow you down over time, create systems that make your life easier in the long run.
To take advantage of all of these tips, you need to create systems that make your life easier. For example, if it’s easy for you to get distracted by your inbox, use tools like Unroll.me or FollowUpThen that automatically organize your email.
If it’s easy for you to forget appointments or deadlines, use tools like Google Calendar or Trello that make your schedule visible at all times. If you’re prone to misplacing important documents or forgetting things, get a file cabinet or scanner so they’re always at hand when you need them.
Have backup plans in place if an unexpected event occurs
Having backup plans in place will help you use your time wisely even if things don’t turn out as expected. Let’s say you had a tough week at work and were really looking forward to spending Friday night with friends. But then, on Thursday, your boss asks you to come into work for an extra hour or two.
What do you do? What if you can’t rearrange your plans? Do you cancel on your friends, or do you simply make it work? If you have backup plans in place, then it won’t be an issue. Just follow your backup plan instead of letting yourself get caught in a bind. When it comes down to it, that extra hour at work isn’t worth sacrificing time with friends or family.
If you have backup plans in place, you don’t have to let unexpected events impact your productivity. Just take a moment on Wednesday or Thursday night (or both) to list several activities that you could do if your primary activity falls through.
Creating backup plans for any unexpected event is an easy way to be more productive during your workday, whether it’s at home or in an office setting.
Be nice to yourself
Most people are their own worst critic. Instead of being hard on yourself, you should always remind yourself that you’re making an effort, even if it isn’t perfect. Even if your plan doesn’t go as well as you planned, learn from your mistakes and be grateful for where you are. Don’t beat yourself up; we all mess up sometimes.
While it may be more comfortable to rip yourself apart, that’s not going to help you move forward. Remember, we all make mistakes. It doesn’t mean you aren’t good at what you do or that you are lazy. If something doesn’t work out, reflect on what happened and adjust your strategy for next time.
Keep in mind, It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up. You will make mistakes; it is inevitable. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t cut out for what you are doing. Take a deep breath and learn from your mistakes; then, go forward with determination and optimism.
FollowUpThen founder here Thanks for mentioning us, and for the great article, Umair! If you post this on Twitter we’re happy to retweet it. Just @mention us in the post to let us know.