Every day, each of us has 24 hours to spend. Some of us make better use of that resource than others. Learning to manage time and spend it wisely is among the most significant things you can do to build personal and professional success.
Here are 65 of the best ways to manage your time:
1. Know yourself. First and foremost, you have to know who you are. You can’t structure your time effectively if you don’t understand your dreams, strengths, challenges, and priorities.
2. Create an action plan. When you plan to do something, create an action plan and give it all your focus.
3. Construct a system. Whether it’s electronic or paper-based, centered on tasks or goals or events, something you purchase or develop on your own, find a system that works for you.
4. Focus on your goals. If you have goals but you tend to get distracted, start by focusing on what you need to achieve and what it will take to make it happen.
5. Understand your patterns. Maybe you get a burst of energy in the mornings, hit your stride after working out at lunchtime, or think best in the late-night quiet.
6. Structure your time. Focus your energy on doing your most important activities when you’re most productive. Save routine chores for low-energy times.
7. Do the hard things first. Difficult tasks require more discipline. If you commit to doing the hardest things first, you will end up doing them with greater consistency.
8. Lace it with passion. Passion will move you beyond your limits and your shortcomings.
9. Create optimal deadlines. It’s crucial to create deadlines for yourself to help you achieve your goals. Think through what you want to accomplish and make your deadlines challenging but realistic.
10. Overcome procrastination. Procrastination is the top enemy of achievement, standing in the way of countless worthwhile goals. Get serious about becoming a person who gets things done.
11. Overcome fear. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Don’t let what is false keep you from getting things done. Convert it instead to Face Everything And Recover.
12. If it’s important, put it on a schedule. It’s the best way to keep yourself on track.
13. Prioritize your to-do list. You can’t do everything, so learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.
14. Don’t obsess over unimportant details. Trying to make sure that every detail is exactly as you want it to be will bog you down.
15. Choose your battles. You win some, you lose some. Pick what is most important to hold on to and be willing to let go of the rest.
16. Stay motivated. Learn what keeps you motivated and inspire yourself daily.
17. Maintain momentum. Learn what it means to stay in motion no matter what comes your way. Momentum is key.
18. Stop worrying. Don’t waste time worrying about things that may not even happen. Focus instead on what you know and how you are going to be successful.
19. Manage your stress. Stress management is life management. Whether it’s exercise, meditation, prayer, family time, or social life, find what destresses you and schedule it regularly.
20. Stop multitasking. If you think you are being efficient by multitasking, think again. Focus on what you are doing, get it done, and move on to the next thing.
21. Initiate a routine. Routines increase productivity by making it easier to identify shortcuts and efficiencies.
22. Take notes. Save time by taking good notes, electronically or on paper. Develop a system to flag things you need to remember or act on.
23. Have an accountability partner. Communicate your schedule and goals with each other and meet regularly to keep each other accountable.
24. Think positively. Where your attention goes, so goes your emotional energy. Don’t think about what might go wrong; think about what could go right.
25. Delegate tasks. You may be able to do anything, but no one can do everything.
26. Pay people to do things that would cost you time. For everything you don’t like to do, there is someone you can hire who will enjoy doing it well.
27. Take breaks. Being busy doesn’t make you productive. Take a break to reset your energy.
28. Act now. If you read an e-mail, respond immediately. If you open a letter, act on it or throw it away. If you need to speak to someone, pick up the phone. There is great power in now.
29. Time yourself. If you tend to get distracted or procrastinate, time yourself. Set a timer for 25-minute intervals and commit to work without stopping or distraction in each block.
30. Turn off notifications. Every notification you get on your computer or phone is an interruption that diverts your attention from your work. They’re almost impossible to ignore, so turn them off.
31. Manage distractions. Silence everything that distracts you so you can fully focus and be as productive as you can be.
32. Eliminate time wasters. If there are things that you do that completely waste your time and are not productive, eliminate them.
33. Create an email system. Use a system when you check your email: once in the morning, once at lunchtime, and again in the evening. Being attached to your email and responding to messages all day interferes with your productivity.
34. Limit social media. Unless you are using social media to grow your business, limit the amount of time you spend on such sites as Facebook and Twitter.
35. Value your time. When someone asks for a block of your time, be clear on boundaries. Show others that you value your time, and they will be more respectful of it.
36. Don’t start projects you don’t plan on finishing. Don’t start a side project before you’ve learned what’s involved and identified the amount of time that it will take to be successful.
37. Take small steps. All big things start with taking small steps. Breaking a big project down into smaller steps makes it achievable and easy to accomplish.
38. Plan for the unexpected. Build some flexible time into your schedule so when the unexpected happens–which will–you won’t be thrown off.
39. Leverage technology. Make use of apps that can help you be productive. My recent article on 75 apps for the busy professional is a good place to start your research.
40. Be concise in your communication. When you make a request, be clear and concise in your communication to make sure you get what you need.
41. Build proficiency. Learn how to be more proficient in your daily tasks, because the better you get at them, the less time they’ll take.
42. Back it up. Make sure all your files are backed up onto an external hard drive. Anyone who has learned this lesson the hard way wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
43. Manage your meetings. Poorly run meetings are time wasters. Show your respect for all parties by managing your meetings in a productive way.
44. Don’t stop everything. If someone says it’s important, make sure it’s important before you drop what you’re doing.
45. Learn to do less. Make a point of learning how to work efficiently. Can you learn a new skill? Can you ask someone to help?
46. Find a mentor. Find someone you can learn from who has done it before so you can waste less time trying to figure it all out.
47. Solve a problem. Be proactive and address problems while they are small and manageable rather than putting them off to deal with later.
48. Get into a flow. When you get into a flow state, things get done in less time and the work goes easier.
49. Study best practices. Learn from what others have done before and practice those things yourself.
50. Know your limits. When something is out of your expertise or skill set, find some help to get it done.
51. Stop obsessing over perfection. Learn to work at your highest level of performance without obsessing and backtracking.
52. Refine the way you make decisions. Establish a decision making process that allows you to accurately and authentically make good decisions.
53. Avoid putting off decisions. When you have a decision to make, make it. Otherwise it will take up too much bandwidth in your mind.
54. Don’t keep revisiting the past. If something didn’t work in the past, don’t keep revisiting it. Learn to move on and forward.
55. Have a nightly ritual. Get everything ready for the next day by having a nightly ritual.
56. Do things that make you feel good. Do the things that make you feel good, and you’ll also become more productive.
57. Reward yourself. When you complete a set of tasks, give yourself a reward.
58. Take time to recharge. A constant state of stress and overwork slows you down. Make sure you schedule time to refresh and recharge your batteries.
59. Learn to say no. Saying yes to everyone is saying no to yourself. Know your priorities and your limitations and don’t commit to anything that doesn’t align with them.
60. Take pride in what you do. Take pride in how far you have come, and have faith in how far you can still go.
61. Manage your energy. Manage your energy, not your time. No car goes anywhere without fuel.
62. Get enough sleep. Sleep is the foundational element that ties our health together. When you sleep enough, you have more energy and happiness.
63. Never renegotiate the time you spend with your loved ones. Family time is off limits.
64. Enjoy your time. Leave room for fun and play.
65. Become the best manager. Don’t just learn how to manage your time. Learn how to manage your actions, projects, distractions, attention, and habits. Because either you manage your time or time will manage you.
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
THE LEADERSHIP GAP
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.