Time management is a way to know where you spend your time and what you can do to improve it. If you find that you can’t get everything done or you are exhausted and aren’t sure why, it probably comes to how you manage your time. The 4 P’s of time management can help focus your attention on the key characteristics to make you more productive.
Here are some of the best time management tips that can make a positive difference in your life.
Prioritization leads to better time management
The first one of the 4 P’s of time management kick-starts the whole process. You can’t really have good time management without prioritization. How can you manage your time if you don’t know what’s important and what isn’t?
Do your tasks have external or internal deadlines? Can you group tasks together?
I am a big fan of grouping tasks. If I have several doctor’s appointments to make, it’s so much more efficient to knock them all out at once. If there are several emails that you have to send, take 30 minutes and get them all taken care of.
I want to mention errands specifically. With the increasing cost of gas (not to mention traffic in my area), I try to group errands together. And I’ve even been known to mentally map them out to reduce the amount of back-and-forth I have to drive. And while you might save a few dollars in grocery bills by visiting multiple stores, balance that savings against your gas cost and your time cost.
Before you put together your to-do list, make sure to check out these strategies to create a more productive to-do list.
Planning for more efficient time management
Once you have your prioritization taken care of, next comes planning. How do you plan to get it all done in the time you have available?
Looking at your calendar, review the blocks of time that are immoveable (appointments, meetings, jobs, etc) and then work around those.
If you feel like you don’t have enough time for everything, then it comes down to one of two things: you are either trying to do too much, or you aren’t spending your time wisely. Take a few days to write down what you work on each day (including non-work tasks), and how long each thing took you. You might find you spend too much time reading email, on social media, or just procrastinating.
Whether you use a time blocking system or set a Pomodoro timer for tasks, it helps to designate a certain amount of time to each task. Some tasks will take more or less time, but without a timer, it is hard to know when it is time to move on to the next thing.
Make sure to maximize your most productive time of day no matter when that may be.
Everyone has their prime time to work each day, often referred to as your golden hours. This is the period of time when you tend to have the most energy and focus. When it comes to time management, you need to know when you are able to focus the most on certain tasks, and when you should spend your time on lower priority items on your list.
Multi-tasking feels efficient but when our focus is divided, all of the tasks can suffer. Let me just say this…
Enough with the multi-tasking!
We are now discovering how detrimental this can be for your focus and productivity. Choose one task to work on and focus at a time before you move on to the next on. It might seem like it would keep you from being productive, but this actually helps you to get more done in the long run.
And don’t forget to “schedule” yourself some downtime too. It can be hard to squeeze it in, but the more complicated our schedules become the more we need that downtime built in.
When you do have down time, make better use of it. Read a book, learn something new, or enjoy a relaxing break. Otherwise, down time just turns into mindless tasks that don’t help you in any sort of way.
Productivity is time management
Brushing up on your prioritization and planning skills definitely leads to increased productivity. Isn’t that the ultimate goal? To get more done in less time? And by the way, let’s be clear on the differences between busy and productive.
There are two rules that I have to share, just so that you actually hear them:
- Delegation: It’s okay to delegate tasks. You can’t do it all by yourself in most cases, so if you find that there just isn’t enough of you to go around, it’s time to delegate.
- Deletion: It’s okay to not do something. You might also have some tasks that are just unnecessary, and more like busy work that you don’t need to spend as much time on.
Positivity about what your time management looks like
Out of all of the 4 P’s of time management, this is the one that can slip past me. We all have bad days — competing priorities, jobs, school, obligations, responsibilities, bills, chores, errands, family, friends, and the list goes on.
But positivity can really go a long way. It doesn’t reduce everything we have to do, it just makes “getting it all done” a little more bearable.
Lots of errands on Saturday? Maybe treat yourself to lunch. Waiting at the doctor’s office again? Bring a book you’ve been looking forward to reading. I don’t even mind the 3-hour drive to my mom’s house. It’s 3 hours to myself, to listen to the radio or drive in silence and let my mind work through everything.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the 4 D’s of time management?
They are Delete, Delegate, Defer, and Do. Personally, I love the visual guide that the Eisenhower Matrix offers for these guidelines. This works wonderfully with the first of the 4 P’s of time management – Prioritization!
How does time management increase productivity?
Look at it this way. At the grocery store, we typically walk from Aisle 1 to Aisle 2 to Aisle 3. If we shopped from Aisle 10 to Aisle 3 and back to Aisle 8, what does that do to our energy and our time?
By being in control of our time, we can move from one task to another more efficiently and more effectively. These proactive time management tips such as using reminders, developing a planner system, establishing a routine, and time blocking are in our toolbox now!
What are the benefits of time blocking? How does it work with the 4 P’s of time management?
Time blocking is a method of choosing what tasks you will do during different times of the day. The blocks of time are dependent on your schedule and the tasks(s) at hand. You dedicate each block of time to one specific type of task. This definitely goes hand-in-hand with the 4 p’s of time management, as part of the Planning step. Take a look at all the benefits:
You Can See How You Spend Your Time
The first benefit to using a time blocking schedule is seeing how you spend your time. Assess your daily tasks, and how long they usually take.
You Focus on One Thing at a Time
Each block should be dedicated to just one task or one type of project. It is okay to use batch work, since your focus will still remain on the same type of task.
You Have Better Time Management Skills
If you struggle with managing your time and often spend too long on one project, then not enough time on the next, time blocking will be perfect for you.
You Don’t Get as Bored
With time blocking, you also tend to not get bored or procrastinate, since you move fairly quickly from one task to the next. A trap that many people fall into is that when they finish one task, they take too long to move to the next one. With time blocking, this rarely happens since you are improving the use of your time throughout the day.
You Have More Free Time
Lastly, you might even find FREE blocks of time, thanks to these skills. If you think you don’t have any spare time, use time blocking and find those little blocks of time when you can enjoy yourself.
How can journaling help with time blocking?
Journaling has been used by numerous successful people to actively engage in their future and control various obstacles that will inevitably spring up on the journey forward.
You Can’t Stop Me!
Let’s face it, multitasking, for the most part, is one of the biggest killers of your success in the modern age. Many of us pride ourselves on our ability to perform various tasks simultaneously, new data reveals that multitasking is not what it’s cracked up to be. In fact, multitasking renders us either unable to finish a project or leaves multiple tasks performed below our normal standards.
Once a section of productive time has been completed, follow that with a short-duration break that can range anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes.
Get Control of Your Work Output
Many of us that have full-time jobs have undoubtedly heard grunts and groans from our fellow coworkers over the years about how many hours they’re forced to work. Take a look at the average person’s workday — shockingly, on an average 8-hour workday we only have 2 hours and 53 minutes of productivity.
With time blocking through our journal, we can greatly increase our output and bring insight into how we spend our day and what activities are preventing us from getting ahead.
As a helpful tactic for the upcoming week, write down in your journal areas of your day that you’ve found yourself wasting time, goofing off, falling asleep, or quite frankly, avoiding a certain task that you need to be doing. When we actively seek out tasks that sabotage our future, we are more inclined to correct them.
Time blocking through a journal approach is, quite literally, like breathing a huge sigh of relief on a daily basis. Many areas of our lives, particularly our career and finances, are riddled with doubt and anxiety from lack of action and clarity.
Journaling gives us a playbook that we can follow throughout each moment of our day and give us a map that can steer us in the right direction. Much like how a football coach would never play a game without his playbook, we should never tackle obstacles without a series of rules and pre-planned actions.
Having structure in your day will, unequivocally, put you in the top 1% of successful people and high-end producers on the planet. In a short period of time you can not only achieve the goals you’ve laid out for yourself, but help others build structure in their lives to succeed in their personal journey.