We all fall victim to ineffective time management from time to time. Sometimes life just throws something unexpected at us and subsequently, our entire routine is out of whack. It can be difficult to get back into the swing of things and regain control of our time.
That’s why building a strong foundation for time management is key to not only boosting your productivity in general but also for having a reliable system to return to for those times when life leads you astray. Developing a skill set now will pay off throughout your career and your personal life. A few ways to help boost productivity and conquer time management are to slowly form habits (yes, I know mentioning ‘slow’ and ‘productivity’ in the same sentence seems counterintuitive), learn to outsource, and leave yourself buffer time.
Start Slow with New Habits
It may seem counterproductive, but be patient with yourself when forming new habits, and that includes time management habits. It’s easy to put a lot of pressure on ourselves, especially when it comes to changing our behavior.
BJ Fogg, a behavior scientist at Stanford University, advocates starting with tiny habits. Essentially, this means taking any behavior you want to change and scaling it back, so you start with a small act, and build upon that. Determine where this behavior naturally fits in with your daily routine and connect positive emotions with it.
For time management, this could mean waking up just 5 minutes earlier than usual, then waking up 5 minutes earlier, but creating your power list for the day and so on. Or, maybe you’ve decided you want to use a time management system in place of traditional pen and paper to-do lists. Start with just adding one recurring task to build your trust and confidence with your new system, and slowly add more. If you start smaller and slower, you’re likely to form habits lasting habits.
Learn to Outsource
Delegation is important to your success. Don’t think this applies only to your professional life, learn to delegate in your personal life too. Many people find it difficult to outsource, wanting to keep control over all aspects of their life or business. Chances are, this won’t last and you’ll burnout. Outsourcing is a great way to save time and what many entrepreneurs find themselves doing more and more.
Exercise some due diligence and choose who and how you’re outsourcing tasks to, but it is surely an investment that’ll pay off. If you go the virtual assistant route, delegate, delegate, delegate. If you tend to micromanage, or just aren’t sure about a new hire, overcommunicate until you feel necessary. There is also great project management software available so you can assign and track tasks that you’ve delegated.
If you find yourself struggling with time management due to personal responsibilities, reach out to your support system. Family and friends are usually eager to help, even if that means canceling plans or learning how to turn down invitations so you can catch your breath.
Leave Buffer Time
Do you have every minute of your day scheduled and wondering why you’re still not in check with this whole time management thing? It may just be a matter of leaving yourself some buffer time between tasks. We can’t concentrate for too long on any one task, and if you can spend hours at a time getting through your to-do list, it may not last for more than a few days. You need to leave time in between tasks to fuel your body and rest your mind. You may even come back with more creative ideas.
This isn’t to say that you should take a 30-minute break for every 15-minute item on your list, but at least get away from your screen, stretch, drink and maybe grab a healthy snack. It’s recommended to spend 20-50 minutes on a task, and anything after that may not reflect your best work.
Invest some of your precious time by starting small with time management habits so they’ll last, get used to delegating more and outsourcing if you’re able to, don’t forget to leave yourself time in between so you can rejuvenate. These efforts will pay off, and not too far down the road, so you can better manage your time and enjoy more of your day. Not to mention, instilling these tips into your routine will allow you an easier introduction back to it if you’re ever off track.