8 Tips to Improve Your Time Management Skills

8 Tips to Improve Your Time Management Skills
Feeling overwhelmed with too many things and can’t seem to get anything done? Are you multitasking and finding out you don’t have enough hands and ‘spreading yourself too thin’ all the time? Perhaps you can improve on your time management skills… Below are some helpful tips on how you can manage your time better:

1. Get organized

You will spend lots of time ‘fire-fighting’ or trying to ‘survive’ chaos in your life if you don’t adapt a system where you can easily manage your time. Get organized by having a system that works for you best. First, organize things physically, assigning items to certain places in your work and at home. Then, organize your life by de-cluttering it with non-essentials. Say goodbye to commitments that don’t serve you anymore. The same goes with people who just take up your time unnecessarily.

2. Write down your lists at the start of the day

After you’ve had your coffee/tea and breakfast, make a list of things-to-do during the day, and if you need to shop,write down a to-buy-list. With your to-do list, arrange them in order of priority; in case you run out of time, you know you’ll be able to do the most important ones. Keep this list handy where you can easily check it the rest of the day; index cards are good for this because of their size. Check off your list as the day goes by.

3. Keep a diary/ calendar

As soon as something comes up, like an important doctor’s appointment or an exam, write it down on a diary or calendar, to be sure you won’t forget about it. Keeping a diary also helps you stay organized with dates, giving you a chance to plan ahead. Upon seeing a birthday coming up, you can include a gift on your shopping list to save a trip outside the house.

4. Have the right tools on hand

There are many tools available to keep your time and schedule easier to manage.Having a watch is basic, but other things can help, such as apps you can download on your phone, tablet, or other gadgets. The Palm Pilot, which is an electronic organizer, became popular in the 90s because of its portability. There are many task manager apps nowadays for both Android and iOS devices that can help you organize your daily tasks. These are normally found under the category ‘productivity,’ and some can be downloaded for free, such as Any.do, Wunderlist, Googlekeep, and RememberTheMilk.

5. Enlist helptime

If you are already overwhelmed with too many chores and your house is already starting to look like a scene from the TV show ‘Hoarders’, then it might be wise to enlist professional help. There are many professional organizers that you can hire either per hour or per project. Most people who hired organizers in the past are happy with their decision, saying that it gave them that opportunity to start on a clean slate and have someone take on what they felt was ‘insurmountable’. Professional organizers not only organize houses, but they can also provide valuable tips on how to organize your life. They will also assist you on how to adapt habits to ensure clutter doesn’t take over again.

6. Keep a schedule and routine

Having a schedule is one thing; keeping to it is another. Unless of course there’s an emergency, try to stay within your schedule. If you allotted 2 hours for a task, don’t spend the whole day doing it, especially if you have other more important things to accomplish later in the day. Your personal life shouldn’t suffer either. Set an alarm to remind you to adjust your pace and know when it’s time to end a task.

7. Learn to say ‘no’

Resist saying yes to everyone and spreading yourself too thin; it’s exhausting and you don’t want to be burnt out in the end. It’s good to be pleasant and diplomatic, but you can’t always be saying yes to everyone, even to family and friends. Explain to them that ‘while you would love to come over and help, you have to keep to your schedule for the day in order to meet deadlines and perhaps can come over some other time.’ Try it; they will understand.

8. Delegate

If you find you have too many tasks that need to be completed, delegate to others. If you have colleagues at work who can do a task better than you, give it to them. At home, if some chores can be assigned to someone else, delegate it to them. If you don’t have anyone to delegate tasks to like a partner or a close friend, keep a list of numbers of childminders, house sitters, and a local handyman. There are websites that offer such services, such as TaskRabbit where you hire ‘Taskers’ to perform  services for you like cleaning, house repairs, moving, and even being your personal assistant. 

It’s good to be organized and have a schedule and to-do-lists nearby, but to ensure having a smooth day, you need to stay focused.Stay within schedule and keep distractions at bay by constantly reminding yourself of what you want to achieve today.

About the author

Mae Davies

BA, MA Psychology (and Conflict Resolution), University of Cambridge (2007). With a decade of trial and error in psychology and 33 years of navigating my own complex (that's one word for it!) relationships with family, friends, co-workers and men, I hope I have some useful knowledge and skills to share with my readers about making sense of relationships and trying to become a better person every day.