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12 Time Management Tips That Will Save Your Sanity

Nearly everyone has heard of “time management” at some point and has a basic understanding of what it means (to manage one’s time).

But why is time management so important? In short, effective time management gives you freedom and peace of mind. Using your time effectively means you have more down time to do what you please and get the most out of your life, instead of being bogged down by endless tasks and feeling like you never have enough time.

As humans, we thrive on having a sense of control in all aspects of our lives. When we don’t have control over something, we feel threatened and insecure. And while we can’t control time itself, we do have a say in how we use it.

We asked our career experts to share their must-know time management tips:

1. Set a timer

“Set a timer for 10-15 minutes and turn off all email, phone and social media notifications. You will be amazed at what you can accomplished without distractions,” career coach Mary Kruger suggests. “And reward yourself at the end of the time – maybe with a quick walk, stretch or flipping through your favorite magazine or social media site.”

2. Take out time to think

“I am not a big fan of ‘time management.’ We as humans cannot ‘manage’ something that keeps moving, like time. The best thing we can do to be productive is to manage ourselves. Self-management is where most people miss it,” explains career coach Marla J Williams. “I encourage clients to schedule time to think; yes, think. Think about your day, life and career. Take 15 minutes a day to start off. Author and speaker John Maxwell has time to think scheduled in his day to think for an hour a day.”

3. Schedule everything

“Schedule yourself for tasks and do them in bulk. For example set aside two times a day for email. That way you aren’t getting distracted from other tasks answering emails,” Mary explains. “The same goes for other projects. When you assign a time for doing things, they get done!”

Career coach Reginald Jackson Sr agrees, adding that you should schedule in time for yourself as well.

“When we schedule meetings with clients, vendors, etc., we put it on the calendar,” Reginald explains. “We also probably send calendar invitations…to everyone but ourselves. Show yourself how important you are (to you). Schedule time on your calendar for the things that are important to you. 3) Self-care is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. When you are rested and fully present, everyone benefits!”

4. Schedule in advance

Career coach Lisa Pachence suggests scheduling yourself well in advance. “Schedule tomorrow TODAY. Don’t wait until you’re in the office or sitting at your desk, distracted by coworkers/emails/phone calls. Schedule your upcoming day the night before. Likewise with your week – sit with your calendar on Sunday nights to map out time for work, well-being, socializing, family, etc. ”

Career coach Benedicte Flouriot suggests looking at the bigger picture when you’re planning your week. “Every Monday, spending 15 to 30 minutes to prepare for the week and decide the following things: What do I wish for? What’s my intention? What do I want to see happen by the end of the week? Moving away from the “pressure” of setting objectives and connecting yourself to more meaningful aspects of what you want to see different in your life, this week.”

“It is important to give the same importance to personal and professional projects. They should be placed together on the same weekly planner. Creating a habit out of it and making sure to repeat the same exercise every Monday, first time in the morning,” she adds.

5. Switch off

We have all fallen victim to notorious time wasters like the internet (specifically, surfing the web, checking Facebook and watching YouTube videos) and television (Netflix series binge, anyone?) at some point or another. So, a great way to better manage your time is to restrict the amount of time you indulge in these activities.

There are time management apps designed specifically to monitor your usage or block you from using your phone for periods of time. Try out Offtime (iOS, Android) or BreakFree  (iOS, Android) to block distracting apps.

6. Delegate

“DELEGATE! No one is good at everything but everyone is good at something. Whether you have a team or others that support you, use them to your advantage,” Reginald suggests.

7. Break it down

“Wanting to get to that project that you never can find time for?” Mary asks. “Hugh Culver, a local business coach, says that if you spend 10 minutes a day, five days a week, in a year you have worked on something for a whole week! You have now found a whole week of time – at just 10 minutes a day. What project can you pick away at?”

8. Write it out!

“When in doubt, write it out. If your mind is too “busy”, you can’t focus your attention on the task at hand,” Lisa suggests. “Whatever is taking up your valuable mental real estate, extract it from your head onto a piece of paper, your to-do list, email, organization area. Or, just get your current thoughts onto paper to clear up space for you to do what’s really important.”

One method to consider is incorporating “morning pages” into your daily ritual. Introduced by Julia Cameron in her book, The “Artist’s Way”, morning pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.

“There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages – they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only,” Julia Cameron explains. “Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.”

9. Fine-tune your focus

In the past, being someone who could multitask was considered a good thing. However, numerous scientific studies have shown that multitasking is a bad idea. In fact, by attempting to multitask (switching rapidly from one task to another), you are actually at risk to make more mistakes and retain less information.

What’s more, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to fully refocus your energy on a task after you’ve been distracted!

Do your psyche a favor and focus on one task at a time and you’re sure to power through a ton more on your to-do list.

10. Get more sleep

“The most effective thing a person can do to be more productive and manage their time is get a good night’s sleep every single night,” explains career coach Marla Williams. “They say if people get 60 to 90 minutes more sleep per night, it would make a big difference in their effectiveness and productivity.”

It’s been scientifically proven that most American adults are chronically sleep deprived. “Very few Americans regularly obtain the eight or more hours of sleep that almost all adults need each night,” Marla says.

Here are some results of scientific studies Marla shared:

  1. Most people need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. There has been research on sleep debt, where healthy volunteers stayed in bed for at least 14 hours a day for a week or more. Most people, given this opportunity, sleep about 12 hours a day for several days, sometimes longer — and then they settle into sleeping seven to nine hours per night. This is the optimal level for full functioning. As sleep researcher William Dement, PhD, put it, “This means…that millions of us are living a less than optimal life and performing at a less than optimal level, impaired by an amount of sleep debt that we’re not even aware we carry.”
  2. So then they asked is carrying a sleep debt really so harmful? Experiments by psychologist David Dinges, PhD, and others have shown that the answer is “Yes.” They recruited healthy young volunteers to continuously in a sleep laboratory for 10-20 days. By randomly assigning the volunteers to receive different amounts and patterns of sleep over time, by controlling their access to stimulants such as caffeine, and by constantly monitoring their physiological states (to document the amount of sleep they were actually getting), Dinges learned that people who get fewer than eight hours of sleep per night show pronounced cognitive and physiological deficits, including memory impairments, a reduced ability to make decisions and dramatic lapses in attention.  In fact, Dinges showed that two weeks of limited sleep — about four hours per night — created brain deficits just as severe as those seen in people who hadn’t slept at all for three nights. As sleep deprivation continues over time, attention, memory and other cognitive functions suffer. Too little shut-eye has been linked to increased risk of car crashes, poor work performance and problems with mood and relationships. Sleep deprivation taxes the immune system, and is associated with a heightened risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and depression. People who chronically fail to get enough sleep may actually be cutting their lives short.

No, really – get more sleep!

“Many people argue that they get by just fine on very little sleep. However, research shows that only a tiny fraction of people can function well on fewer than eight hours of sleep each night. Dinges estimates that, over the long haul, perhaps one person in a thousand can function effectively on six or fewer hours of sleep per night,” Marla explains. “Many people who operate on chronic sleep debts end up napping during the day or fighting through long periods of sleepiness in the afternoon. Worse, most people who are sleep deprived do not even realize it. If you get sleepy during long meetings or long drives, chances are you are sleep deprived.”

Researchers have discovered that getting an extra hour or 90 minutes of sleep each night… improves memory and increases people’s ability to concentrate.  I would propose this extra sleep would help them manage their time more effectively allowing them to increase their productivity.

I know that I personally am more productive, manage my time better and are more efficient at everything I do when I have great sleep and do not feel deprived. How about you?

11. Manage your energy

“I encourage energy and environment management versus time management. It’s easier and more effective to embrace what is within your control (how you manage your resources and environment) than to fight with what is not within your control (the number of hours in a day or workday, for example),” career coach Sally Anne Geidrys  explains. “Setting healthy standards in managing your own personal energy increases well-being and productivity in a more sustainable way than trying to figure out strategies to pack more productivity into our days.”

12. Check in with yourself

The best way to manage your time is to really be aware of how you are using it. Pay attention to bad habits that are stealing your time, such as mindless surfing or scrolling through social media, and how present you actually are at work (see multitasking). If you find yourself getting bored and searching for a distraction, you may just need to give yourself a break. Get up and go for a walk, get a glass of water or a snack and let your mind rest for a little while. You’ll go back to the task with a fresh set of eyes and will be ready to conquer it!

Have you got any time management tips you would like to share? Please tell us about them in the comments!

Thinking of hiring a career coach to help you better manage your time and get the most out of your professional life? Browse our directory of career coaches and get a FREE consultation or request a personalized coach recommendation!

About the Author Kristen Moran

Kristen is the editor and community manager at Noomii.com and the Noomii Career Blog. Kristen's desire to ask questions and share information with others led her to pursue journalism. While she has worked at various publications, covering everything from municipal politics to local restaurants, it was her love of self-improvement and sharing inspiration with others that made Noomii the perfect fit. Connect with Kristen through Twitter.

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