5 Clever Ways To Improve Your Time Management

Get rid of stress. Take control of your time.


Photo by cottonbro from Pexels


When was the last time you were stressed, busy, or in a rush? Yesterday? On Monday?

Time is a venture. “I don't have time.” is a mantra of everyday routine. But you can have time. You can manage your days better. Many people call themselves rich if they have time. Let’s be one of them.

How?

By being in control of your time. Five ways that helped me solve the time machine puzzle (and no, you don’t need Hermione Granger’s time turner necklace) are:

  1. Schedule

  2. Plan B

  3. 3 Ds

  4. Negative but honest answers

  5. Challenge deadlines


1. Schedules

I haven't even started and you are already bored! I don’t want to disappoint you, but schedules are the easiest and most effective tools you have in your hands.

Plans help you structure your days, sharpen your agenda, and make you focus. Investing in summarizing priorities pays off. You immediately see what to do and when.

Here comes the first clever trick:

1# Do the plan and the schedule yourself.

Why is it so important? Because by doing it yourself, you are making decisions and making yourself accountable. You can be as creative as you wish. Instead of being stressed as someone told you to do something, you do it as you are motivated to on your own.

Sweet, isn’t it? On a serious note, deciding about the task, time, technique, and teams, can improve motivation a great deal. So, take an active role in your planning. It might be super refreshing to feel in charge for once.

2. Plan B

Why do you need a plan B when you are a planning superstar? You always need a plan B! The reason is simple. Plan B gives you a flexible perspective over your schedule.

Plan B is a scenario that saves your day. Ask yourself:

  • What if this task is not delivered on time…

  • What do I need to shuffle if the client comes with….

  • What can I do to speed up the process…

  • Who can I contact for a piece of advice…

Be aware of the resources. Nothing is easier than delegation of tasks others can perform too.

Plan B is your catapult to your potential productivity. The only this to do is:

#2 Think ahead and imagine everything collapsing.

Having a plan B will strip stress out of your shoulders.


As you know what you need to do if something unexpected happens. It makes you a confident wizard and a time management pro.

3. 3Ds

2D or 3D? Always 3D. Not just because it is more interesting to look at, but also because it is a smart way to control your time. If you control your time, you control your life. Sweet deal.

Now, 3Ds are:

Decide to focus

I am not pulling your leg. You NEED to decide to focus. Dr. Barbara Oakley, a learning expert, talks about focused vs. diffused mode. Understanding these two modes is a real-life-saver.

Our brains are not wired to focus all the time. They need short junks of focused time and some junks of relaxed time to sort the information out.

So, don’t punish yourself when you need to relax. Your brain needs it too.

Decide to focus and indeed focus on the task. Find the will to achieve that without being distracted.

Device hygiene

I know your will is sometimes reluctant to focus. So, help yourself and get rid of your devices that are luring you on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Medium, etc. When you focus, focus. Not thinking about looking at the news.

To be safe, just leave your phone somewhere away from your desk. When you don’t see it, it’s less tempting.

Do not disturb

Last D is about switching off from people. You cut your devices, but you need to let colleagues or friends know you are not available. You focus after all. So, put do not disturb mode. Book yourself a meeting. Tell your partner, you need to focus between 3–4 pm.

#3 Be Diligent and switch off from the outside distractions.

4. Be negative but honest
  • “No, I can’t.”

  • “No, I won’t have time to finish that.”

  • “No, I need to stay home and focus today.”

Do you say ‘no’ enough? Yes? I bet you don’t. You have to it say even more. Don’t be afraid of being called grumpy, selfish, or unhelpful. It’s fine. Smart people keep their time management clean as well as honest.

Even if you wish, you can’t please everyone. Sorry. Be honest with yourself and with them. Time management is a way of communication. You manage your own and their expectations.

Honesty is something you can’t wear out. — Waylon Jennings

What is worse? An unfulfilled promise or a lie? Avoid both.

#4 Say an honest ‘no’.

It takes courage to say no. But you can do it. Be in charge of your time and won’t let other people sneak in when they wish to. It should be a fair play on both sides.

5. Challenge deadlines

Are you afraid of asking? Grrr. I know. But if you don’t ask, you won’t gain. Many deadlines are surprisingly flexible. Yet, they cause much stress.

I am not saying don’t deliver on time or come late. I want you to be clever enough to foresee what could happen. Be one step ahead.

One thing I learned in the corporate world is that everyone adds some buffer. Look at this example:

  • The boss of your client has a deadline on the 1st March. Your client needs to check it before handing it to his boss. He communicates to your boss his deadline on the 22nd of February. Your boss, who leads this account, gives you the job and asks you to deliver it by the 15th of February. So, he has time to check it. You push your suppliers to deliver it by the 7th as a potential buffer if a delay occurs. So...


Deadlines have a buffer. You can ask for a favor and in 98% of cases, there is some flexibility. But if you don’t ask, you might be stressed.

#5 If you don’t ask, you don’t get. — Mahatma Gandhi


Final Thought

Time management is nothing else than a process of deciding what to do when. By improving your time management, you become efficient in your daily activities. You boost your work-life balance and happiness.

It helps you with two things:

  • Not to lose time

  • Have time

Get in charge of your time, get rid of time stress. Stick to plans, block distractions, and foster flexibility and communication. You can do it. Decide to focus now.



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