Research shows that a whopping 80% of new year’s resolutions don’t make it past February.
It’s the beginning of the year, and you’re on a roll! You’ve replaced the ice cream in the freezer with mixed berries, and the 9 pm impulsive McDonald’s run with protein shakes. You are exercising and making sure to do everything right this year. “I’m doing it!” you think to yourself, and you are set to achieve all these goals this year. But as much as we all want to achieve our goals, unfortunately, we fail due to poor time management skills.
Some Time Management Tips and Tricks
We know that time management is crucial when it comes to achieving anything in life. Whether you are a student working for good grades or a professional working for a promotion. If you cannot manage your precious time, you are less likely to achieve your goals.
So, how do you keep the goal-accomplishment high and make sure that you don’t become part of the failing 80%? There are two critical ways to a good balance in your life and make use of your time wisely.
1. Scheduling Priorities
2. Setting Deadlines
Let us talk about each of these keys to understand how they help you improve your time management skills.
1. Schedule in Your Priorities
Jim Rohn once said, “Either you run the day, or the day runs you.”
We all have a list of un-ending demands on our time and attention. You have a work meeting scheduled in the evening, someone commented on your Instagram photo. You’re a part of three group chats that all require your attention, and you’re trying to decide what to have for dinner tonight. All these things to do can take a toll on our brains and easily jumble things up.
If we’re not careful, the seemingly urgent yet insignificant demands can get in the way of us accomplishing our most important goals. This is why scheduling priorities is essential. Once you know which task is more critical and can be delayed, you will get a firm grip over how you spend your time, leading to good time management skills.
Individuals who carefully plan out their day and guards their time with passion end up creating extraordinary lives for themselves and their loved ones.
But how do we know what to put first and what to delay for some other time?
The Time Management Matrix
Stephen R. Covey, in his seminal book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, outlined the critical difference in understanding what is urgent and what is important in our lives. Initially popularized by President Dwight Eisenhower, this matrix will help you focus as you schedule in your most important priorities.
The Time Management Matrix consists of 4 quadrants:
1. Urgent / Important:
Fire crisis, project deadlines, feeding the baby are examples of quadrant one urgent and important problems. They should be the first priority and must be done at once.
2. Non-Urgent / Important:
Long-term project planning, exercise, relationship building are examples of quadrant two not urgent but still very important. They should get the second priority and should be scheduled on a calendar.
3. Urgent / Non-Important
Meetings, extra activities, non-important phone calls, and other interruptions may seem urgent but not very important. It would help if you tried to minimize them or shift them to a free time like the weekend.
4. Non-Urgent / Non-Important:
Time wasting trivial tasks like scrolling Facebook or chatting with friends for hours on a weekday are neither urgent nor important and should simply be eliminated.
Even though everyone has different routines and activities planned, we still have the same 24 hours each day. This means we all have the same amount of time to schedule our activities and complete them. The key is to be deliberate and thoughtful as you demonstrate courage in saying “no” to the lesser important things, as exciting as they may be, and favor the more critical things which may not sound as exciting.
2. Setting Deadlines
Setting deadlines for every task is also a great way of improving your time management skills. As important as it is for a project to have a starting time or “start line,” it is equally crucial to have a deadline. Once you know exactly when a task or project starts and ends, it is easier to complete it.
Imagine your manager comes to you and says, “Brian, I need you to give me the gap analysis on the company goals by next Wednesday at noon.”
Is there any confusion on when the deadline is for this goal? No. Can you now schedule the appropriate tasks to ensure the goal is completed by this time? Yes.
Now, imagine that same manager comes to you and says instead, “Brian, I need you to give me the gap analysis on the company goals whenever you can.”
What is one of the first thoughts that go through your head?
“Oh, perfect. My boss didn’t give me a deadline, so that means I don’t have to do it for a while. I have four other projects due in the next two weeks, so I’ll get those done first, then come back to the gap analysis.”
Not having a set deadline for ourselves will not only increase the amount of time it takes us to accomplish our goals, but it will most likely decrease our productivity in completing them as well. Since we won’t have the sense of urgency that is so often needed to get stuff done, most things might be left unfinished.
How to Make Sure You Hit Your Deadline?
Well, according to one of the top global providers of research and learning resources, some ways can help you finish your work at a pre-defined deadline.
- Be assertive:
If you feel like you can‘t finish on time, be assertive and say no if possible. A good practice is to take some time and evaluate a deadline before you agree to it.
- Adjust your mindset:
Adopt a positive attitude toward deadlines instead of resenting them. Deadlines can help you to achieve goals that you might otherwise put off.
- Don’t mistake “planning” for “doing:”
A plan will always be a plan, no matter how good it is. It is imperative to implement it if you want to achieve your goals.
- Make good use of your time:
Time management is a crucial factor while trying to finish work on a deadline. Keeping track of your time will benefit you greatly when the deadline is close and help you complete it in time.
- Defeat procrastination:
If you are a procrastinator, accept it and then figure out ways to overcome this. Things like isolating yourself while working or turning off your phone will help you focus on the task at hand.
- Make meeting deadlines a habit:
Start by working toward smaller deadlines in your daily work, and then transfer this habit to other aspects of life. This way, you will develop a way of always setting a deadline and finishing on time.
The tricks mentioned above will help you improve your time management skills. Being able to keep track of your time correctly will help you achieve a lot in life.
You‘ve got your goals down, you‘ve still got the motivation to complete them, and now you have these time management tips to accomplish them.
Remember, knowledge does not apply itself; you must make the application!
To learn more about how to schedule your priorities, stick to your deadlines, and accomplish your goals, sign up for Arootah’s life coaching program – explicitly tailored to your needs and circumstances.