Time: it never ends, and yet it always seems to be in short supply.  I don’t know about you, but I never can seem to find enough of it to accomplish every little thing that I’d like to do.

As I get older and my responsibilities grow (sometimes, it feels, exponentially), I realize more and more how vital it is to manage my time well.  It’s not something that I do perfectly by any means, but over time, I’ve come to consider time-management to be as essential to my well-being as things like budgeting and relationship-building --- mainly because time-management has an undeniable ripple effect that spills into those other areas.

If you’re like me and you’re constantly on the hunt for strategies to improve your efficiency, take a look at the suggestions below as you seek to become a time-management master:

Each day, begin by thinking ahead. 

 What tasks lie before you?  What responsibilities are you to fulfill today?

  • A planner of some kind --- a wall calendar, a pocket agenda, etc. --- serves as an invaluable tool and visual aid. It helps you to sort obligations according to where they fall in your daily priorities and how much time is required to meet them.

When called upon to lead, do the heavy lifting in advance. 

If you’ve been tasked with preparing a presentation or coordinating a project, spend adequate time getting your ducks in a row beforehand.

  • There are few worse feelings in the world than faltering under the spotlight, when all you feel you needed was a little more preparation.

Home in on whatever’s in front of you. 

It’s all too easy to let your mind drift to other responsibilities, but when tackling an assignment, give it your full attention.  Do your best to see it through to completion before moving on to the next thing.

Remove temptations from your presence. 

 You know best what distracts and sucks you in.  Take strides to eliminate those things so that you can enjoy unwavering focus.

  • On the other hand, if you find that something like background music helps you to stay on task, incorporate it as needed.

Stay on your feet. 

If you’re on a mission to finish a project, try to avoid taking a seat as you’re on the go.  As soon as you sit down, it becomes much easier to get pulled into a longer conversation or a TV program that’s on.

Be willing to postpone chitchat. 

Don’t feel bad about having to decline certain conversations politely.  Instead of giving offense, you may actually inspire admiration for your focus.

  • Ultimately, both you and your colleagues will benefit from your diligence. And you’ll set the tone for a serious work ethic.

Be selective with your “Yes.”  

Successful time management hinges on how well you’re able to prioritize your many responsibilities.

  • Ironically, as we start to hone our efficiency, it can become tempting to take on more than we can truly handle. Self-awareness --- knowing just how much you can and cannot juggle at once --- is absolutely vital.

Be thoughtful and strategic with your personal time. 

Every one of us knows how hard it is to keep the momentum going in our off-hours.  After a long day’s work, a trip to the couch seems far easier than a slog outside to the lawn mower.  But if you make a plan for the various home projects that you have going, you’ll be better positioned to get them done --- even if it’s just a chunk at a time.

Make the clock your friend rather than your enemy.

To stay on track, incorporate things like timers and alarms into your daily routine.  That way, when you’ve decided to allot a half-hour for an assignment, you have something to keep you accountable; that half-hour remains a true thirty minutes instead of stretching out to an hour or more.

  • Without sacrificing quality, work to reduce the amount of time that you require to get tasks done. Being on the clock helps you to gauge your progress toward this end.
     
  • Some projects require sustained attention over a longer period. In those instances, set your alarm for shorter windows of time so that you can take breaks as needed.  It’ll make such projects feel less daunting and easier to accomplish.

Mastering time-management is an essential step toward greater efficiency and effectiveness.  Use the pointers above to guide you in your pursuit of it.  Time-management mastery is just around the corner!