Do you ever feel like you’re on a hamster wheel? Constantly hustling and setting goals but this is leading you nowhere? There’s never enough time to get everything done?
I know I have felt that way.
Not anymore though! I’ve learned the art of effective time management and now I’m able to focus my energy on what really matters: getting things done and enjoying life. No more feeling overwhelmed, no more feeling guilty over taking time for myself, and no more feeling behind in my goals.
Believe me, it wasn’t easy. Especially when I decided to start working on my side biz. There never seemed to be enough hours in the day between working my corporate job, spending time with loved ones, cleaning the house, and working on my business.
I felt like I was going nuts! My stress levels were through the roof and I was falling behind in one thing or another.
If you are like me (and I feel like you are if you’re reading a personal development blog), you want to achieve success in life, but you don’t know how.
You feel like you’re working hard, but not getting anywhere. All your friends seem to be doing better than you and it’s frustrating.
That’s where effective time-management skills come into play when chasing your dreams.
Goal setting and time management are two important aspects of achieving success. By using these two together, you can optimize the amount of time in a day to be as productive as possible. With goal setting and time management, you can lower your stress level, achieve success, and more!
What is time management and why does it matter?
According to MindTools, time management is the process of planning and controlling how much time to spend on specific activities.
A lot of people think that good time management is only important if you are a business owner or have a demanding job. However, this isn’t true because effective time management can help anyone who wishes to be more productive in any aspect of their life.
The benefits of effective time management
Everyone can benefit from time management.
This is because having good time management skills will enable an individual to complete more in a shorter period of time.
Many people underestimate how much time they need for work, their family, themselves, etc. This isn’t surprising because many people have a lot on their plates.
Just think of everything you do on a daily basis! We live in a world where our to-do lists are never-ending.
Time management is important because when you have a lot going on in your life and you aren’t managing your time well, it will lead to stress and being overwhelmed by things that need to be done.
A lot of us go through life on autopilot. We are just going through the motions and trying to get through the day.
That’s where goal setting comes into play. Goals give you direction. A roadmap of sorts that tells you where you want to go.
You can’t manage your time effectively without having clear goals. Goals unite all areas of your life and help you prioritize tasks so that you can spend more time on what’s most important to you.
Have lofty goals that you want to achieve in your life and then use the power of effective time management to accomplish those goals. I suggest using SMART goals to achieve your wildest dreams.
The importance of SMART goals
SMART goals are written in an action-orientated way. They are way more specific than the vague goals a lot of us set for ourselves.
However, it is so important to set specific goals that have a clear path forward. It is going to make it much more attainable because you know exactly what you need to do.
There are five basic criteria that need to be addressed for a goal to be considered “SMART”. They are:
I have a whole post on SMART goal setting so if you want to learn more, definitely check that out.
I would suggest setting long-term and short-term goals. This way you know what you need to do next month as well as what steps you need to take to get to those bigger 5-year goals.
Time Management Strategies
Just like SMART goals, there are time management techniques as well that can help you effectively manage your time. I’m going to go over 4 popular time management techniques.
Give all these techniques a go and see which one works best for you. You may notice that some of these strategies can be combined for optimal success.
Eisenhower matrix (Quadrant time-Management System)
This method was coined in the popular book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Convey. It’s all about prioritization. What tasks are going to move the needle forward?
Here’s how it works:
Urgent and important – These types of tasks require immediate attention. They can’t be ignored. It’s the most important work towards your long-term success.
Not urgent but important – Tasks like working out, spending time with your family members, and taking courses are examples of tasks that need to be done but aren’t urgent. Even though they’re not urgent, these are important things that you should do to keep your personal life balanced and happy.
Urgent but not important – These tasks are often the ‘little fires’ you have to put out. It’s tasks that have to be done immediately but aren’t moving the needle forward. If it doesn’t require your expertise, delegate these tasks.
Not urgent and not important – These are the time-wasters and these tasks don’t have to be done nor does it get you closer to achieving your goals.
Using the below urgent-important matrix, you are easily able to identify what should be the most important task, what you need to schedule onto your calendar for a later date, what you could delegate, and what you need to get rid of altogether.
You should definitely use this technique to help you prioritize your to-do list and free up more time. Look at your list of tasks for the day and prioritize accordingly.
Pareto principle (80/20)
This was actually developed by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1895 when 80% of Italian land was owned by 20% of the population. Now, how does this relate to time management do you ask?
Well, it is said that 80% of our success comes from 20% of what we do. It’s the idea that most things are not distributed evenly. The ‘Life is not fair’ kind of concept.
If you’re wondering how this impacts time management, well it’s simple. We all do things that seem urgent and important at the moment but what we need to understand is that most of those tasks are not actually important. It doesn’t actually produce any kind of result or help you reach your goals.
So identify what 20% of your activities lead to 80% of the desired outcome. It is these important activities that you should focus on. If you have a list of 10 things, 2 out of the 10 items are going to move the needle forward more than the other 8 combined.
Once you identify which items will have the greatest impact, do those items first.
Did you know Pomodoro is Italian for tomato? So you could also refer to this technique as the tomato technique 😉 Just kidding
This tactic was actually developed by college student Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. It’s really simple. Spend 25 minutes on a specific task then once those 25 minutes are up, take a 5-minute break. After doing this 4 times (so 2 hours) take a longer break (15-20 minutes).
It’s called the Pomodoro technique because Cirillo found a tomato-shaped timer when he needed to focus on a task for a designated amount of time.
This technique works really well for people who are distracted by social media or their phones when they work. It helps them stay focused on the task at hand and one thing I love about this technique is that it allows you to schedule breaks throughout your day which is very important.
For those 25 minutes, nothing else matters except the task at hand. It is meant to force you to work with the time limit you have and not against it. If you give yourself all day to finish a task, you’re going to take all day.
If you break tasks into 25-minute increments then you’re going to get the task done quicker and more effectively.
I would suggest prioritizing tasks before starting this time management strategy. Then work on the most important tasks first. A helpful tip is to keep a time log with how much time it takes to complete tasks. Once you get into the habit of doing this, you’ll begin to know how long specific tasks typically take and you can combine some small tasks that won’t take a full 25 minutes.
This method is all about prioritizing tasks on our to-do list. I know many of us fall into the trap of productive procrastination. While this can be helpful at times, it means that you procrastinate on the most important tasks and instead focus on little tasks that don’t make a huge impact on reaching your goals.
So to get past this, you could start using the ABCD method. This is a great way to know what is the topmost urgent task and what can be put off (or deleted altogether).
Using this method, sort tasks into 4 categories:
A Tasks: topmost priority. These urgent tasks should be done today and if it isn’t, there are some big consequences. There should be no more than 3 different tasks in the A category.
B Tasks: These are tasks you should do but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get to them today. These would have some consequences if you don’t complete it but it’s not severe.
C Tasks: These are tasks that are the icing on the brownie. It would be nice to have but it isn’t necessary. There aren’t going to be any consequences for not doing these tasks today.
D Tasks: These are tasks you can delegate to someone else.
E Tasks: These are tasks that you realize you can remove from your to-do list altogether.
Once you’ve labeled all the items on your task list then go in order for A to E. You shouldn’t complete any B tasks until the A tasks are completed and so on and so forth.
Choosing the right Strategy for you
So as you can see a lot of these techniques are similar but they will speak to different people in different ways.
I personally like the Pomodoro method the best. It’s simple and it helps me work with the time I have. I also get distracted from social media or my phone in general so, with this method, I am not allowed to touch my phone until those 25 minutes are up.
However, what works for me might not work for you. That’s why it’s important to try these different strategies out and see which one makes the most sense to you.
How to manage your time effectively
Managing your time effectively is all about prioritizing what tasks will help you reach your short-term goals and long-term goals.
You need to find a routine that works for you and if it doesn’t work, change it. At the end of the day, procrastinating is a bad habit that you need to break so it’s something that is going to take time to do.
One important thing to keep in mind as well is that multi-tasking kills productivity. Unlike popular belief, we can’t truly focus on more than one thing. So pick a task to focus on and work on just that one task.
The importance of adding a time management Strategy to your routine and identifying time-wasting activities
Ever since I started making a plan for the day, my time management has increased significantly. Another thing I do is time blocking my calendar in conjunction with the Pomodoro Method. This way I know exactly what I should be doing throughout the day.
The one thing I realized was that my biggest time-waster was social media. Not only would I lose my train of thought if I jumped on social media, I realized I lost a lot of time where I could have been more productive.
I have also stopped checking emails so often. This has helped me become more productive by letting me focus on one task at a time without losing my train of thought or feeling overwhelmed with information overload.
Identifying what distracts you can really help you improve your time management skills. If you can identify the problem, then you can find the solution.
Finding a routine
If you’re able to find a daily routine that works for you, it can be really magical. It’s important to figure out when you are most productive. If you are a morning person, getting those A tasks done first thing is going to be super beneficial.
However, if you aren’t a morning person, the ABCDE method may not be the best for you because you’re wasting energy forcing yourself to get the high brainpower stuff done when you’re still half asleep.
It’s important to understand your limitations and put off the high brainpower stuff until specific times when you are more focused.
It is also important to take breaks to avoid burnout. The Pomodoro method has you take a five-minute break after every 25 minutes of work. This gives your brain time to reset so you don’t feel overwhelmed. However, you should incorporate breaks in any method that you chose.
Life isn’t about the hustle all the time. It is about finding a better work-life balance so that you can accomplish your dreams and also enjoy life. Creating a schedule with time management tips in mind will help set yourself up for success.
There are so many different ways to manage your time effectively, which is why it is so important for us to experiment and find the best way that works for you.
Goal setting and effective time management skills are two important aspects of achieving success. You need to set the right goals for yourself, identify your routine, and identify what time-wasting activities you indulge in. With that knowledge, you can then start using effective time management techniques to help you be more productive.
Lastly, goal setting and time management cannot be separated; you need to use both together in order to achieve the desired success.
Let me know in the comments below what your favorite time management technique is? How have you incorporated it into your routine?
Until next time,
Related Posts on Goal Setting
- How to set professional goals that will help you crush your career aspirations
- 11 Common Goal-Setting Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them)
- How to Plan, Schedule, and Crush your Goals for 2022