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You have probably already found plenty of time management advice online. Maybe you have friends and colleagues who swear by the Pomodoro technique, early-morning exercise, or specific time management tools. And if you’ve been following Productivity Academy, you know that I strongly believe in planning your time.
If time management makes you more productive, then productivity will make you more successful — right?
The problem is, perfecting your time management system and increasing your productivity takes time and effort.
So before you invest in your time management skills you want to be sure: how does time management make you successful? And since we’re at it, how much more successful, exactly?
Being More Trustworthy
Of course, time management is first and foremost a way to stay on top of your deadlines and schedule — a way to make sure you take care of your responsibilities on time.
In other words, good time management will make you trustworthy and accountable.
It’s unfortunate that this concept is not covered at school in depth, or is shown as a way to simply get a project done.
After being in the workforce and a business owner for a long time I am now convinced that time management skills and their results should be taught in schools of all types as it’s a skill that anyone can apply to any position, project, or problem.
Let’s consider a practical example. During a hiring process, let’s say it becomes hard to choose between two final candidates.
Candidate A has more experience, consequently needing less training and guidance. They can deliver fast results that will likely require minimum scrutiny. However, they tend to leave everything to the last minute, and sometimes forget when projects are due. They will probably miss a few deadlines.
Candidate B is relatively new to the field. They will need extensive training and possibly an extra set of eyes for the first few weeks. As a consequence, they may lack confidence and repeatedly ask for advice. However, they are very organized and never miss a deadline. They are good communicators and you are sure they will let you know in advance should they need help or a deadline extension.
What candidate would you choose? To me, it’s a no-brainer. I want the person who is trustworthy and knows how to manage their time because I can always teach them, show them how to do the rest. But people who are not good with time management impact more than just themselves and it starts to show quickly.
More Stable Projects
Being on top of your time management doesn’t happen overnight. Whatever you work on — project management, cost estimates, design and production, personnel management — applying my techniques today and trying out a few methods once will not make you instantly successful.
Because time management optimization feeds into your overall productivity, you will see results in the long run. You will get better at it over time and you will experience fewer and fewer instances where your project is taking too long or you have really underestimated a timeline.
Reducing Your Stress Levels
By being more productive, you will also be able to help yourself and those around you with lowering stress levels.
Last-minute issues will still arise, but you will have more patience to face them with. If you are confident in your time management systems, you will stress out less, guaranteed.
Think about it: you are making better estimates, planning things throughout, working ahead, saving time.
All this will give you more energy and spare time to deal with unexpected challenges.
Moreover, the people you are managing will be less stressed out just because they report to and interact with you.
What Are the Best Time Management Tools?
There are plenty of choices when it comes to time management assistance. The great news is, many tools are completely free. Here is a list of the most common time management tools that I have tried and tested myself.
The daily review and schedule. I have discussed my daily review method in the past. It is the first step towards boosted productivity and better time management, and if you decide to do only one thing, this should be it. Take your time in the morning to gather all the information you have about your tasks (maybe from your Evernote account) and rearrange them.
To-do lists. It doesn’t matter where you write them — a post-it note, a Word document, your Best Self journal. Try different things and see what works best for you.
Your calendar. Using your calendar helps you get better at estimating how long it’s going to take you to do something. It is great for time blocking: by knowing what you already scheduled for today, you will figure out how long you can actually dedicate to a new task.
Task management apps. Some apps will do the hard work for you. By integrating with your calendar, they will be able to find available time for any new task you may want to put in your schedule.
Avoid distractions. If you are in an office environment, avoiding distractions is hard. Know when the busy and loud times are, and schedule your day around them. Ask friends and colleagues to not disturb you (if possible) when you know you are most productive and plan to carry out intense-focus tasks there. Importantly, do not leave your email open. This is hard to do all the time but when you can, close your email tab and only check it at allocated times. Of course, this applies to Skype, Slack and other communication tools. You can also segment your emails so that they go directly into folders. This way, you will not have them all in your face at once and you will be able to check certain low-priority folders when you will have time.
Write what you want to do beforehand. I do it on a post-it note. When I know I have a time block — let’s say one or two hours — I take a minute to sit down and write what I want to accomplish during this time. I try to prioritize the list so that I can start with what is really important and work my way down. It also helps me make sure that I make better estimates and don’t miss anything.
Hopefully, this article will have given you good reasons to work on your time management skills and practical advice on what time management tools you can use to help in the process.
I’ll leave you with a summary of the three main reasons why better time management will make you more successful:
It will make you more trustworthy and dependable;
It will make you and your projects more stable, and ultimately more successful;
It will help you and those around you decrease your stress levels.