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Master Your Time Management Skills

Master Your Time Management Skills

The time that you have to work on your goals isn’t infinite. So, when you don’t know how to manage your time, you’re losing precious minutes or hours that could take you closer to your goal.


Many would-be achievements have vanished into the black hole of lost time. If you master your time management skills, you’ll have plenty of time to spend accomplishing your goals.


Start By Being Present


When you’re present, it means that you’re paying attention to whatever it is that you’re doing. Or you’re paying attention to the conversation. Being present means that you’re living in the moment - not in the past and not in the future.


The reason that you want to be present is because it’s a better use of your time and when your focus is in the present, you accomplish your tasks or decisions easier and quicker than if you let your mind wander.


Being present can become part of a smart strategy that will let you reach your goals. You might hear the phrase about being present often but you still don’t fully understand what being in the now means.


You live in the present time so how can you not be here? You can be at home but your mind is at the office thinking about tomorrow’s workload. Or you can be at work thinking about the stuff that you need to do at home later.


A good way to determine if you’re being present is to pause every now and then and ask yourself if what you’re worrying about it something from your past or future. The reason that’s not good is because it can train your mind to think about other things even when you need to focus on something that’s goal related.


When you’re in the middle of doing something like walking on a treadmill because your goal is to lose weight, then your mind should be aware of the rapid beat of your heart, the sweat running down your back and the minutes you’re racking up.


Your present mind should be on your weight loss goal and getting healthy. You shouldn’t be thinking about the project you left unfinished, the emails you need to send, or the laundry you need to do.


When your attention is pulled away from the location where you currently are, or from the task at hand, it means that you’re not being present. When you’re present, the moment that you’re in is the one that matters.


Don’t Multi-Task


Getting more done in less time is what most people think they’re doing when they multi-task. But what’s actually going on is that you’re giving your attention half-heartedly to a lot of different tasks and even the people in your life.


When you’re trying to respond to an email and your daughter is asking you a question, you might think that you’re being efficient because you can keep typing while answering.


You think how well you handled that. She thinks that she’s not worth a second of your attention. And over time, those little moments of inattention because of multi-tasking add up and can undermine the relationship.


She’ll think you just don’t listen to her. That’s where that adolescent lie begins. That mom or dad don’t have time for her. But it’s not really a lie, is it? Because it’s the truth. Multi-tasking won.


You’re not more efficient when you multi-task. Studies have proven that. You don’t do your work better because studies have proven that, too. You’re only fooling yourself that your brain is made differently from everyone else’s on the planet.


Your brain only has the bandwidth to fully concentrate on one thing at a time even if your hands are busy doing two or three things. The word multi-tasking is actually not even a truth.


Because when you try to divide your focus, it actually causes your brain to slow down because it has to make a more concentrated effort to try to follow along. So, you’re actually lengthening the amount of time it takes to get whatever you’re working on simultaneously done.


Not only that, but when you multi-task, because your attention isn’t fully focused, there’s a greater chance for mistakes to occur. While some of these might be small, some can be painful - like talking on the phone and trying to take care of household tasks so you end up underpaying a bill, filing something in the wrong folder, or sending an email to the wrong person.


Plus, multi-tasking is bad for your mental health. When you practice trying to do several things at once, your stress hormone rises. So you end up staying on high alert and feel edgy and that can double if you’re multi-tasking while racing against the clock.


It affects your mental health, but it can also affect your cognitive function. Your brain can only store so many details from each task. So you’ll start overlooking details, missing points, and not being able to remember key things from the tasks that may be important.


Don’t Procrastinate


Procrastination wastes a lot of time. Tomorrow isn’t the right time to do what needs to be done. Do it now, get it over with and then it’s off your to-do list and you’re not using mental energy thinking about getting it done.


You might put off doing something because you don’t have any ideas on how to get it done. Once you start something, the ideas flow. But you have to take that first step. Sometimes people hesitate to get started on something because all they can think about are the hours or days that it’s going to take to finish.


But if you tell yourself that you’re going to give the task fifteen minutes and no more, then it’ll surprise you at how much you do accomplish once you begin. The thing about procrastination is that the task doesn’t suddenly lessen in difficulty because you put it off.


You have that task at work you don’t want to do because it’s hard and it’s boring. Tomorrow isn’t going to magically make the task easy and interesting. You just step up and do what you have to do.


If you don’t, then your mind makes the task much harder and worse than it actually is. Remember that the task you put off will not suddenly morph into something else. Don’t procrastinate because you can end up missing a deadline.


This might be work or personal related. But if you run out of time, especially on something important, you may never get that chance back again. This is how many people miss opportunities.


They know they need to answer that ad for the job they want or they need to make a move on a financial opportunity and they put it off. Then they discover that the chance went to someone who jumped on it instead of putting it off.


When you procrastinate, it can lead to pressure. You don’t have as much time to complete the task as you thought you did. So, you start doing whatever just to get it done and the end result is less than your best and it shows.


Blowing off stuff only makes the to-do list get bigger, which adds to the pressure which creates more rush jobs. You don’t want to procrastinate because what if you think you can get something done in an hour and then you can’t?


You also don’t want to procrastinate because you might be projecting the actual difficulty of the task. People put off doing stuff for a reason - because it’s boring or hard or it causes them emotional pain.


So, they keep pushing it aside. But then later when they end up doing it, they discover that it wasn’t so bad after all. Yet, they spent a lot of emotional energy making the task worse than what it was.


Suppose you put off dealing with that work or that family burden. You put it off because you don’t want to deal with it and you think it’s going to be hard. But it’s something that must be done.


So you finally buckle down to get ready to address it, but a huge problem cropped up and that must take priority. So now, you’re up the creek. You’ve put yourself between a rock and a hard place because something or someone is going to end up shortchanged.


Remember that what procrastination does is it steals from your future. Put off working out now, you might not end up losing the weight you want to lose by your deadline. Don’t learn the new skill now, you might not be ready when a career opportunity comes along.


Master Time for Your Daily Tasks


The reason some people find success and others don’t is because successful people know how to schedule their daily tasks. They don’t handle things when they get around to it.


They make sure that there’s time to do what’s important and they get it done. These are the successful people who make the kind of money they want to make. They have the job they want to have.


They have a great work/life balance. Not because they’re smarter than you are but because they’re just better at managing their daily tasks. It all begins with a schedule. The reason you want to follow that lead is because a schedule is the dividing line between getting stuff done and total chaos.


When you have a schedule, you know what you’re supposed to be doing and when you’re supposed to be doing it. You should build your schedule around the time of day that you feel the most productive.


For some people, that’s first thing in the morning. But for others, that’s not until the evening hours. Don’t waste time trying to make your schedule like everyone else’s. The quickest way to failure is to try to conform to a way that doesn’t work for you.


Shut out the distractions during the time you’ve set aside for your daily tasks. If you’re supposed to be writing out a report for your job, then that’s all you should have in front of you.


Leave the cell phone aside and keep social media off. Because if you don’t, you end up taking a “quick” break. While breaks can be good for you, they can also completely wreck your ability to focus.


When you get pulled away from what you’re doing, you can waste half an hour or longer trying to get back into the work zone in your mind. When you’re switching from one task to another within your schedule, you need to give your brain a moment to switch gears.


So as soon as you finish one thing on your schedule, get up, go get a drink, do some stretches or practice some meditation. But make sure you’ve built these task switching moments into your schedule.


What this does is it lets your mind close the door on that task and gets it prepped for the next one without lingering over the last thing you just finished. Only put on your schedule the things that you can handle.


If it’s something that’s going to create chaos such as you trying to fit in learning a new skill in order to complete a project and it’s going to create a time crunch, then give that part of your task to someone who can get it done and back to you by the time that you need it.


Set your daily schedule around like-minded tasks. If you need to write an email to your sister, then create a report, then email your boss, then write a business letter, group the like things together. Write both emails first, then switch to the letter and report. This way, you’re not switching from one form of writing to another.


Having Good Time Management Skills Means Saying No


Most people understand that you have to say no to time wasting situations. You already know that this might be something a phone call from a friend when you’re trying to work. Or it might be that coworker who wants to pop into your office or the neighbor who wants to chat.


But one of the hardest people to say no to so that you can manage your time is yourself. You really do know how to steal your own productivity. You do that by creating a schedule or to-do list that only someone who isn’t human could effectively handle.


You have to be smart about managing what you can get done. Creating a long list might look good on paper, but it can make you feel like a failure when you end up having to leave half of it undone because you ran out of time.


So, when creating your schedule and your list and organizing your priorities, remember your limitations. Say no to superhuman thinking. You have to learn to firmly tell yourself no when it comes to certain opportunities, too.


Just because they’re good and just because they come your way doesn’t mean that they’ll be good for your time. For example, a project comes your way and you really want it.


But taking it on means you’ll have to rush and probably put other projects on hold. You might end up doing a sloppy job all the way around, you upset your long-term clients and now your new one doesn’t think you’re capable of doing a good job.


So be wise enough to say no to opportunities that don’t fit into your schedule. Give up dealing with stuff that doesn’t matter. This usually occurs when people start to sweat the small stuff.


You want to have a website with red font. But is that font the exact shade of red you want? Should it be bright red? Soft red? And you go back and forth with this font color until you’ve spent half a day.


Details matter, but not to that extent. So, say no to decision stalling. Keep moving forward. You can revisit it later if it bugs you. Say no to overkill. This is when you obsess over things such as the red font, that won’t make or break your goals. Do your best and move on and you’ll end up saving yourself time and you’ll be less stressed, too.

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