KEYS to Time Management


We live in a busy society where everyone is on the go all the time – in the office, at home, and in school. More often than not, it seems like there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

For budding entrepreneurs and freelancers in particular, time may come at a premium as you work to balance your side gig with a regular nine-to-five, start and grow your business, and find time to eat!

One of the most important aptitudes for any individual with more tasks than time is time management. To reduce stress, increase productivity, and shorten the length of time between setting a goal and achieving it, use these KEYS to time management:

K – Keep distractions away!

All of us, myself included, are familiar with the sweet temptation of procrastination. In today’s world, distractions are practically smacking you in the face.

Television, the internet, and texting, not to mention the vast array of time vortexes that are social media sites – all these are huge distractions that impede effective time management.

If you work from home, even the lure of your comfy bed is a very real distraction, but you must overcome.

Separate yourself from as much distraction as possible. Sit at a table in a separate area from the television. Put your phone in another room, turn off your internet if you can or limit yourself to 10 minutes of internet every 2 hours.

The cost of going into hermit status for a few hours each day brings about great time management payoffs.

E – Effectively prioritize

Knowing your priorities is essential to balancing and effectively using your time. Prioritizing helps to organize your tasks by importance, so you can get all your work done more efficiently.

Prioritization can work in different ways. When the tasks you are working on have deadlines, one simple approach to prioritization is to tackle the task that is due the soonest.

Deadlines aren’t always a factor, however, or you may have competing deadlines. In these cases, assessing the size or importance of the project may be helpful.

Personally, getting the small, less important tasks out of the way first helps to get me in a rhythm, then I can address the larger ones once I have reached my stride.

In some cases, getting through the largest or most important projects first, then finishing off with the smaller ones is more effective. Whatever your approach, keep in mind deadlines, size, and level of importance and take an organized and well thought-out approach.

Y – Your pen is your sword, write it down!

In the wake of the keyboard, the pen has become a somewhat underutilized tool. But time management gurus know just how important the pen can be.

Writing things down allows you see the tasks that are in front of you, memorializes ideas that are necessary to completing those tasks, and provides you with the satisfying feeling of crossing something off when you have completed it.

You can use your pen to make lists, organize priorities, brainstorm ideas, sketch designs, or create schedules and timelines.

Writing things down with an actual pen provides something that typing something into a word processor or an app just cannot, (when I figure out exactly what it is, an article describing it will surely ensue!) and helps to manage your time by creating a clear picture of the tasks at hand.

S – Set targets and break it down

Ever try to fit an entire apple in your mouth?  No one eats a whole apple at once; they bite into it or cut it into smaller pieces.

The same theory applies to effective time management. Having a large project ahead of you can be overwhelming, leading to increased procrastination.

If you break the project into smaller, more easily-digested pieces, you not only have a better chance of achieving the overall goal, but you also get the benefit of more frequent pats on your own back as you finish each piece.

Be realistic about how much time you have and what you can accomplish and set weekly, daily, or even hourly targets for what part of the project you will accomplish by a given time.

Each time you do accomplish a piece of the puzzle, reward yourself! Whether it’s 5 extra minutes on the internet, a tasty snack, or a television break, treating yourself when you achieve your mini-goals is a great source of motivation to get things done.

Time management can be a tricky skill to master, but with these KEYS, you should be well on your way to success.

What are your most effective time management tips?


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I'm Samantha, a law school graduate with a passion for writing and a 'go-getter' mentality. After graduating from the University of Southern California, I began my Master’s Degree in Sport Management at California State University, Long Beach. I worked at various entertainment agencies while in school but the two degrees just wasn't enough, I had to go back for more! I received my J.D. from Pepperdine University, School of Law, where I got the chance to spend several amazing months in London, England, traveling throughout Europe, feeding my love for travel and foreign culture. Now, I live with my snake Trubble and enjoy every day to the fullest!

Discussion

  1. SJ Scott on the 9th December

    Samantha,

    Love your KEYS. Acronyms for learning these positive benefits is always so helpful.

    I specifically like your “Y”. Going low tech like this is something I always do for my lists and ideas. Sometimes I feel like I am the last person out there not using fancy tools for my processes (although i use some apps too).

    It is nice to know you see a simple pad and pen as important as I do.

    Steve

  2. Nanette on the 9th December

    I definitely agree with breaking down your bigger more complex goals into smaller chunks. I just posted setting small goals as one of my Weekly Career Tips.

    Good advice.

  3. Matt on the 9th December

    Great article you broke these concepts down really well. KEYS definitely something to help remember these rules.
    For me prioritizing is most effective. Tough part is do you take on harder tasks to finish them and get them out of the way or smaller tasks to narrow down the total number of jobs.

  4. Kosio Angelov on the 12th December

    Great acronym Samantha and some very good tips!

    I would like to add H for habits. “We are what we repeatedly do” as the famous quotes say so having productive habits and also knowing how to eliminate the bad one is an essential skill in time management, in my opinion at least.

  5. Frank Harding on the 30th December

    I agree with the suggestion of writing things down. I do it every day and it really focuses my thinking. I remember reading in a Brian Tracy book the importance of ‘thinking on paper’ or dumping your thoughts on paper to crystallize your thinking.

    Also, a danger worth mentioning is perfectionism. While high standards are important, perfectionism can sometimes take up a lot of time unnecessarily. I found some helpful comments on this here under the heading Strategy 2 – Avoid Time Stealers:
    http://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/g201402/invest-your-time-wisely/

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