Seize The Day: A Comprehensive Guide on How to Improve Time Management

Have you ever felt like you were not managing your time properly? Do you constantly feel like there just isn’t enough time in a day to get things done?

The vast majority of us have experienced either of these feelings at different points in time. It’s almost like a norm. Sometimes, you wish you could gain control of time to do as you please. If that wish was granted and you could extend the length of a day, the chances that you might still fail to accomplish every task on your to-do list are high. 

The solution is not in gaining control of time but in mastering how to improve time management

What is time management? 

Time management is what can get you out of that endless loop of constantly feeling like 24 hours is not enough time for a day. It is the cure for time wastage.

Essentially, time management involves effectively organizing your time to accommodate the tasks that you plan to complete per time. Another way to put it is - time management is simply making the best use of your time

Time and tide wait for no one. How do you ensure that you utilize the rapidly-moving time? The answer: time management. It is a vital skill for you to possess if you want to succeed in any endeavor in life. One of the hallmarks of highly successful people is effective time management. They view time as an asset and they treat it as the same.

You must gain mastery of time management skills. Consider them to be weapons in your arsenal that can help you win the war against time-wasting. Common time management skills include:

  • Organization: This affords you a sense of direction and focus. It entails creating a to-do list, scheduling meetings ahead of time, having a tidy and isolated workspace, etc.  It is almost impossible to manage your time without having proper organization.
  • Goal-setting: Clearly outlining what you intend to achieve in the short and long term helps you to identify the activities you should focus on. It would be unwise to prioritize a task that isn’t relevant to your short or long-term goals.
  • Prioritization: Once you have your goals outlined, prioritizing becomes easy. This skill requires you to constantly assess your responsibilities to determine which demands your attention and which can be set aside for another time.
  • Delegation: When you’re swamped with a lot of work, you can ensure optimum productivity by delegating some tasks to someone else. It may be a colleague or someone in a lower position.

Benefits of good time management

Practicing time management can avail you of a lot of amazing benefits. Good time management affects both your personal life and professional life. Let’s examine some of these benefits.

1. It increases your productivity levels: 

It’s easy to get distracted in a world where social media is prevalent. With new technologies come new distractions. The more time you spend on irrelevant things, the less time you have to be engaged in more productive tasks. 

At work, learning how to effectively utilize your working hours helps you complete your assigned tasks. Essentially, good time management practice takes your productivity to the next level. If you were struggling to strike off two or three items from your list before, you would strike off almost every item.

2. Your career may experience a boost:

Your performance often influences career growth. Whether you will rise through the ranks is dependent on the value you contribute to your company or the reputation you build for yourself in your specific field.

Good time management can help you to be highly productive at work. Employers love to reward stellar employees with a promotion or a raise. You can prepare yourself for promotion and, generally, success in your endeavors with good management.

3. You achieve your goals:

You tend to achieve your goals faster when you learn to manage your time well. Setting goals is relatively easy. Taking the necessary steps towards those goals is where we often experience difficulty. 

Learning to be productive with effective time management will make goals seem more achievable. As you move from task to task, your confidence in achieving your goals increases. If you stay consistent, what you once fantasized about will eventually become a living reality.

4. Reduced stress and anxiety: 

Most people procrastinate on important tasks till a time close to the deadline. This habit often results in stress and anxiety as you may be consumed with worries of an imminent deadline or deadlines. Eventually, you may not produce good work quality as you would if you commenced early.

Time management teaches you to organize your time, plan your day or weeks, prioritize, and delegate tasks where possible. If you do this effectively, you can avoid situations where you have to complete a long list of tasks with just a short time available.  

How to measure your time management skills

Before you learn how to improve time management, you should first examine how you currently deal with time. With these five simple steps, you can practice self-evaluation in this regard. 

1. Set a to-do list: 

To know how well you work effectively with time, you can start by evaluating yourself for a while, say a week or two. If you’re not accustomed to creating a to-do list daily, do it for the sake of this evaluation. 

Be rational. Don’t set unrealistic expectations. Only write down the few things you intend to complete by the end of the day. You can create this list in your journal or the notepad on your electronic device. Choose whichever suits you.

2. Be yourself: 

You want this evaluation to be as honest as possible, so you should be yourself. Act like you would on a typical day. Don’t try to put in extra effort to complete your tasks because you want to have a good evaluation. Just approach your day the way you’ve always been going about it. Don’t forget to tick off items you completed successfully. 

3. Identify what time management skills you utilize:

To effectively manage your time, skills such as planning, organizing, prioritization, and delegation are crucial. How well do you organize your tasks every day? Do you create a plan? How well do you prioritize? Do you delegate when possible? These are some of the questions you should ask yourself at this stage. The aim is to determine how well you utilize these skills to manage your time. 

The best approach is to ask yourself these questions at the end of each day for the period you’ve set for your evaluation. Do well to note essential details as you progress to commit them to memory easily. 

4. Pinpoint your challenges: 

Your evaluation would be incomplete without ascertaining what factors impede you from making the best use of your time. For some, it could be a social media addiction. For others, it might result from dealing with onerous domestic responsibilities, like catering to the kids and managing the house. 

5. Examine your performance:

At the end of your set period, look at your to-do lists from the start of the evaluation to the end. Were you able to complete the majority of your daily tasks? What were the factors that prevented you from doing so? What time management skills did you utilize, and how often did you use them? 

You can easily tell if your performance is average, below average, or pretty good. As long as you are honest with the entire process, you should already know where you’re lacking. Here is a quiz you can take to evaluate yourself.

How to improve your time management skills

Here are common ways to beef up your ability to make the best use of your time daily.

Set clear goals: 

I cannot overemphasize the importance of regular goal-setting. Successful people make goal-setting a habit because it provides clarity and direction. It also helps you know what to focus your time and resources on. Imagine a football match without a goal post. The players will keep moving around the field without purpose.

Goal-setting is creating a goal post for yourself. It tells you what direction to take, what skills to utilize, etc. The most effective approach to goal-setting is using the SMART technique. It’s a technique that requires your goal to be;

  • Specific: Your goals should not be vague or general. Narrow it down to the details. 
  • Measurable: Outline what metrics you would use to check if you’re making progress.
  • Attainable: Be realistic. Ensure your goals can be reasonably accomplished within a specific time.  
  • Relevant: Your goals should align with your values and short or long-term objectives.
  • Time-based: Endeavor to set a timeframe for achieving your goal.

Organize your day using the 4 quadrants of time management:

Developed by Stephen Covey, the 4 quadrants method effectively organizes your day to ensure that you stay productive. It helps you prioritize your tasks such that you focus on more important things. Here’s what the method looks like:

  • Quadrant 1 - Urgent and important: This is where you place items that are pressing and require your immediate attention. They should be the first tasks you aim to tick off your list. 
  • Quadrant 2 - Important but not urgent: Here, you find those tasks that are important but can be deferred to a later time. This quadrant is where you place important tasks that do not have close deadlines. 
  • Quadrant 3 - Not important but urgent: These tasks are less important than the previous ones, but they are time-restricted. It includes simple things that need to be done within a specific timeframe, such as calling or emailing a client or colleague.
  • Quadrant 4 - Not important and not urgent: Avoid focusing on items that fall into this category when you’ve not accomplished those in quadrants 1 -3. Sadly, this is where many people spend most of their day, thus making it unproductive. Items here usually contribute to procrastination and time-wasting.

Clear off distractions: 

Distractions are things that prevent you from focusing on essential tasks. They could be activities or people. To ensure that you stay focused when you want to, stay clear of all that could impair your focus. If it’s your phone, switch it off or turn off your notifications. 

Remote working has made it increasingly difficult to focus on essential tasks. To avoid being distracted by kids or family, ensure you have a separate workspace where you get to concentrate.  

Are you an avid reader? Would you love to learn more about effective time management? Here are some of the best books on how to improve time management: