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Time management, anyone?

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Time management, anyone?

As R. L. Adams from Entrepreneur says, “time is the greatest equalizer in life.” Regardless of who you are, where you live, how old you are or how much money you make, you have the same amount of time as everybody else. The real question is: how effectively do you use and manage the 24 hours in the day?

Generally, “time management” refers to the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between particular activities. The objective of time management is to increase efficiency and productivity – historically in business; nowadays, both in our personal and professional life.

As Susan Ward explains in her article, the roots of time management date back to the 19th century and the industrial revolution. The rise of factory work created a need to construct a new relationship with time and “people had to learn to live by the clock rather than by the sun.” To address this need, Frederick Winslow Taylor published his famous theory, ‘The Principles of Scientific Management’, in 1911, whose main objective was to improve worker productivity. His work was widely influential and dominant for over 40 years, up until Peter Drucker published his more inclusive theory of management that included white collar workers. His idea was “based on management by objectives and the need to manage a business by balancing a variety of needs and goals.”

Since then, time management has put forward countless new theories, out of which Steven R. Covey’s ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ is remarkable. His work is still of one of the bestselling nonfiction books and has widely popularized the concept of personal time management.

In the 21st century, when we think of time management, most of tend to think of personal time management and work-life balance. To put in layman’s terms, personal time management is making sure that we waste less time on things we have to do in order to have more time to do things we want to do. While the lucky ones have the talent to achieve this balance right off the bat, some have to work hard for this to happen; however, it’s achievable by all means.

From a marketing perspective, you are probably familiar with countless ways to boost your performance and automate your work, including social media scheduling apps, drip campaigns, abandoned cart emails and so on. If you need a few more reasons as to why you’d want to go great lengths to manage your time even more efficiently, here come a few benefits:

  • No more missed deadlines
  • Greater productivity and efficiency
  • Higher chances to reach your career goals
  • A better professional reputation
  • Decreased stress levels
  • More free time

Likey? We thought so. Now, what can you do to see all these right up your alley? Quite a lot, but no need to be overwhelmed. Let’s break the steps down a bit.

1. Find out where you're wasting time.

A survey found that 89 percent of respondents waste time every day at work. 26% of people waste 2 hours or more a day! Track your daily activities to form an accurate picture of how much time you spend on specific tasks.

2. Create time management goals.

Your main objective is to change behavior patterns and eliminate time-wasting activities, such as checking your phone, taking personal calls while working, answering emails all day long, browsing social media platforms.

3. Find and implement a sound time management system and tool.

Now, that you’ve set out to use your time more efficiently and change behaviors that don’t benefit you, you need to physically track your time, and see whether or not you're accomplishing whatever general goal you’ve decided to reach.

4. Audit your time for a week.

Spend 7 days assessing how you spend your time and record it in a journal or on your phone. What did you set out to do? What did get done? How much time did you waste? At the end of the week, after summarizing the results, you might be shocked.

5. Spend your mornings on the most important tasks (MITs) of the day.

Getting the most important or most difficult tasks of the day early in the morning will give you the biggest momentum to get you through the day. Also, you’ll be less stressed out since you know that whatever really needs to be done that day is already done.

6. Establish routines and stick to them.

You’ll be more productive if you follow your own set of rules and routines most of the time, however, this behavior comes in especially handy when you face a crisis or an unexpected task. Depending on what you have a hard time with, you can try to schedule email response times, and not check emails throughout the whole day. Or set time limits for particular tasks and try not to spend more time with them. And always make sure to take frequent breaks when working so you won’t run on fumes.

7. Be organized and declutter.

A messy environment leads to messy work. Declutter your office/desk/wherever you work so you can better focus. Create to-do lists and set daily goals in the evening for the next day. Prioritize and set performance benchmarks. Use the quadrant time-management system to split your activities into four quadrants based on urgency and importance. Organize your systems as well: if you’re spending lots of time searching for files on your computer, reorganize your file management system.

The most important time management tip is to realize that there are always 24 hours in a day, time doesn’t change – it’s you who does. Find the most proper tool for it!