We all keep telling ourselves that we’d like to visit the gym more often, handle work more effectively, read more, cook healthier food and so on. But nothing changes much and we continue to lead our lives in a rut.
And yet, there are others that seem to get a lot done with relative ease. They hold high-end six figure jobs, exercise daily, cook healthy and still find the time to spend with their kids.
How on earth do they accomplish so much day in and day out? Well… the answer lies in how well they use their time.
Every one of us has only 168 hours in a week. Some people accomplish a lot of valuable things in their 168 hours and there are others that don’t accomplish much.
This is mainly because highly effective people use their time and energy a lot differently than normal people.
In this article, we’ll talk about some of the most common time management strategies used by highly effective people and how they differ from others.
Here are the 5 key time management strategies of highly effective people…
1. Proper planning
There’s an old saying that goes like this – “Failing to plan is preparing to fail”. And that’s very true when it comes to getting things done at work or at home.
168 hours in a week is a lot of time. If you aren’t planning and charting out what you are likely to do each and every hour of those 168 hours, chances of you getting much accomplished in the week are quite low.
So make sure that you set aside time every weekend (either Saturday or Sunday) and clearly plan out what you intend to do each and every hour during the subsequent week.
If you don’t know what you are going to be doing Wednesday 10 am at work, that’s okay. Just make sure that you allocate 10:00 – 11:00 am as Work @the office desk on Wednesday.
By planning and setting aside a time for the activity, you’ll be able to make at least some kind of progress.
2. Create lists
If you’re working on a project with plenty of moving parts, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and lose focus on the project. This is because the amount of information our brain can hold in the short-term memory is quite limited.
Too much of data can lead to overwhelm and cause procrastination on the task that needs to be done. And this is where making lists come in handy.
Make sure that you list out all the possible things that need to be done on a specific project or task and get busy handling 1 task at a time. And also make sure that you break each task down in such a way that it takes no longer than 20 – 30 minutes to complete the task.
3. Dedicate blocks of time for priorities
If you’re doing any sort of creative work or a long-term activity that requires a lot of thinking like writing a blog post, drafting a report and so on, make sure that you carve out a block of time in your calendar for this very specific task daily or multiple-times a week.
Set aside anywhere from 1 – 3 hours for the project/activity that you need to work on even if you are not sure of what exactly needs to be done.
Once you set aside the time, make sure that you show up at the environment (ex – office desk) when the activity does need to be done.
This will ensure that you make at least some kind of progress on the project without leaving it to the day when the deadline looms.
4. Break down tasks and projects into small chunks
One of the main reasons why people procrastinate on projects until the deadline looms is because of the mind’s inability to process tasks/activities that have multiple moving parts.
But when the deadline looms, you naturally experience a sense of urgency which makes you focus on the task and get it done whether or not you feel like it.
However, working when the deadline looms close by is an incredibly ineffective way of getting things done.
The key to get started early on your projects without procrastinating on them is to break tasks and projects down into incredibly small chunks.
Make sure that you break each and every task down in such a way that each task does not take more than 2 minutes to complete.
Once you have a list of tasks that take less than 2 minutes to complete, start working on them and finish them one after another.
As you make a checkmark on your list after each and every task is accomplished, your brain will release endorphins and you will naturally feel motivated to get a lot more done.
5. Fuel yourself
One of the main reasons why people struggle with time management is because it does not exist. Time is not something that you can manage. It’s something that will pass by whether or not you do the work.
Every hour is not created equal. Your energy level at 1 PM is a lot different from your energy level at 8 Am in the morning.
The real secret is energy management. It’s how well you spend your energy on the things that are important to you over a 24 (or 168 hour) period.
If you begin your work day feeling groggy and exhausted, chances are you’ll end up spending your time on Facebook rather than on the projects that matter the post.
In order to perform better and get a lot done, you will have to fuel yourself.
Our body requires 3 things as fuel in order to get a lot done – sleep, exercise and food. Too much or too little of any of these 3 things will cause a breakdown no matter how hard you try.
Eat too much and you’ll feel sleepy. Too little food and your ability to control your emotions and focus will go down.
Over train too much and you’ll injure yourself. Too little exercise will lead to muscle loss and low energy levels.
Sleep too much and your energy levels will gradually decrease. Too little sleep and your will power and ability to concentrate will reduce.
The key is to maintain a balance in each of these things.
Make sure that you eat what is necessary, but do not overload yourself.
When it comes to exercise, 3 days of strength training and 3 days of cardiovascular training are optimal. But make sure that you start small and increase intensity gradually.
And lastly, make sure that you get around 7 – 8 hours of sleep each and every night. 7-8 hours of sleep is critical in order for you to recover and have the mental, emotional and physical strength to do what needs to be done.
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