Time-management Do’s and Don’ts: How To Manage Your Time Wisely

Time management can often seem like an impossible task in life. Time, like anything else, is boundless and illusive. Time management strategies tell us that being efficient is being successful. However, many people have trouble implementing time-management strategies into their lives simply because they don't know how to use them.

The fundamental strategy for managing time is dividing the day into segments used for specific tasks to manage your day more effectively. Suppose you are attempting to keep up with everything on your plate. In that case, there are specific steps or strategies that you can implement to stay productive while accomplishing all of the tasks assigned to you. One major element lies at the heart of mastery of time: self-control or discipline.

It's about:

  • getting up on time every morning for work
  • keeping up with all deadlines
  • working away on your task until it's completed
  • not indulging in consuming foods or sleeping too much

For some of us, "time management" may seem like a strategy that is exhausting, stressful, and suffocating. But for others, it is the secret to leading a happy and successful life. Read on to learn more about time management do's and don'ts and how you can stick to them without losing your mind!

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Time-management do's of successful people

Have you ever wondered how successful achievers manage to run their businesses, spend time with family, work out, and still have time to enjoy their life? Yet, they have the same amount of time in a day but achieve way more than an average entrepreneur. The secret of their success hides beneath broad experience — the trials and errors that led them to the top. By learning from successful achievers' experiences, you can avoid their mistakes, adopt some of their helpful habits, and expand your horizons.

Start your day early

If your work schedule allows you to stay in bed, using this opportunity wouldn't be the best choice. Days of most successful achievers start exceptionally early. The CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, wakes up at 3.45 am and has a strict morning routine to set him up for a productive day. At the same time, Jeff Wainer, the CEO of LinkedIn, gets up at 5:30 am, managing to clear his inbox, perform meditation, work out, and have breakfast before 9 am. Oprah Winfrey, one of the most influential women in the US, rises at 6 am to work out before her kids wake up.

In a nutshell, a study of self-made millionaires had shown that more than half of them woke up at least three hours before the workday started. Since morning is the best productivity time for your brain, it's better to get up earlier than spend night hours on work. However, if you're not used to getting up early, start incorporating this habit step-by-step by going to bed earlier. Then you'll be able to gradually wake up earlier each morning without feeling too tired or sleepy.

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Focus on five essential tasks

With the hectic schedule and crazy life pace, you could have plenty on your plate each day. Essential tasks alternate with distracting minor routines, and you juggle them without fully contributing your attention to any of them. That's why most successful achievers focus only on essential tasks during their days. A self-made millionaire and the star of "The Profit" reality show, Marcus Lemonis takes only five tasks for one day. Still, these tasks matter for his goals the most, so he does everything to accomplish them throughout 24 hours.

Suppose you think more globally and want to select essential tasks for a more extended period. In that case, you can use a trick Warren Buffet once shared with his pilot. Warren recommended writing down all his goals for the next couple of years and choosing the five most essential from the long list. Then, he told the pilot not to take on the other tasks on the list until he had mastered the top five. Use this time-management hack to avoid distractions and reach your high-priority goals faster.

Learn to say no

Imagine if all successful leaders would agree to help everyone and take every task when someone asks them to do it. In that case, none of them would be famous achievers but more likely unknown people pleasers. Warren Buffet's quote says: "The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything." And he's right: by taking other people's duties on your shoulders and helping everyone, you're stealing your own time and focus.

So when you agree to help everyone, you're contributing to other's people successes instead of making yourself flourish. Of course, it all depends on the situation, but you should always put your goals first. Steve Jobs viewed the science of learning to say no as a wise decision-making process. He claimed that you should say no to hundreds of other great ideas before pursuing a promising idea or goal. Thus, ensure you have set the right priorities and stick to them when deciding whether to agree on a new task or meeting.

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Minimize decision fatigue

Every decision you make throughout the day takes your time and energy. Even if you're simply picking the color of your shirt to wear or which breakfast to get. Because, on average, you make 35,000 decisions per day, it could suck your energy. Thus, successful achievers reduce decision fatigue by all possible means to save more time for important matters. For example, Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg wear the same outfits daily to have more mental energy for their work.

A business magnate Richard Branson says delegating minor decisions is a key to growing as an entrepreneur. If you're planning a home makeover, hire a designer to pick the colors of wallpapers and furniture style instead of wasting hours doing it yourself. When many daily routines drive you around the bend, hire a personal assistant to save a few hours for deep work without distractions. Delegate everything else to spend your energy and time more efficiently. So you got it - make only those decisions that truly matter for your career and personal life.

Schedule breaks

This advice could sound like a joke if you're a dedicated hard worker. The century of rush and deadlines makes you feel guilty for not doing anything every minute, so you overload yourself with more tasks. Just to not appear as a procrastinator and beat the guilt. In turn, successful achievers include breaks in their schedules. John D. Rockefeller, the wealthiest man in modern history, took naps after lunch and rested after dinner in his chair.

Another enormously successful achiever - LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, claims that he add blank spaces to his schedule to do nothing. This buffer time helps him to look at the bigger picture of his goals and plans. At the same time, these lazy breaks are essential for your brain to blow some steam off and reload before the next work session. So schedule them the same way you're scheduling meetings - your mind relaxation is equally vital.

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Turn wasted time into your power

Daily routines sometimes take too much of your time. Stuck in a traffic jam on the way to work or waiting on hold for customer service, you let your mind wander. On average, you can spend 50 minutes commuting to work, 32 minutes remaining in the doctor's office, and 28 minutes standing in security lines. So why don't you use this wasted time as famous achievers do?

Tony Robbins - best-selling author and business strategist - repurposes time gaps in his schedule. For example, you can read a book you've put off when standing in line. Listen to an audiobook when riding the subway - always have an activity in mind. If stuck in traffic, turn on the podcast of an influencer you admire.

Successful achievers have mastered the way of dealing with their time and distractions. It's one of the critical factors that help them grow their wealth and careers. So are you willing to join the list of famous influencers and business sharks? Then use their experience to plan your next steps and alter your habits. What's more, if you want to avoid common mistakes in your time management, it's worth knowing them first. Let's look at what you can do wrong when scheduling your day.

Time-management don'ts that can ruin your productivity

When you're not so familiar with time management, it's easy to make mistakes in the beginning. Then you may though: "No, time management isn't for me." But maybe you've just been stuck in one of the evil time management traps? Here they are:

Scheduling less time than you need

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Okay, sometimes each of us overestimates our capabilities. An extra piece of cake, additional work tasks, too small shoe size - these kinds of things won't hurt. But when it comes to time management, thinking that you can finish jobs faster is a hazardous mindset. When you familiarize yourself with time planning, you may schedule too little time than tasks need. Thus, you'll run around like a blue-arsed fly, not even having a minute to wind down between your duties.

So let's be realistic about your capabilities. If you know that some of your tasks are harder and may require someone's feedback or help, give yourself more time to accomplish them. Plus, don't ignore your body's need for short breaks. You can schedule 5-minute breaks between small tasks and set up a time for longer (up to 15-minutes) breaks after complex assignments. It will help you feel that you're in control of your schedule and give you the ability to have a sustainable workflow without stress.

Leaving the most difficult tasks for the end of your workday

Have you ever put your most complex tasks on the back-burner because of the fear of failing them? Or such tasks make you feel uncomfortable and scared, so wait till the last minute to finish them. That's understandable because our brain makes you do everything to avoid stress and discomfort. Though most of such tasks are inevitable, you prolong your mental suffering. In addition, waiting will bring you even more pressure than completing a task.

The first work hours are the power-time for your brain, so you'll manage to perform your best at a complex task. At the same time, dealing with the most challenging assignments first will make you less stressed for the rest of your day. So if you're eager to spend your days most effectively, schedule demanding and complex tasks in the first half of your day. In that case, you can use the "Eat your frogs in the morning" strategy.

Sticking to perfectionism

Time management requires accuracy, intense focus, and purposefulness, so you can follow the plan and ignore distractions around you. Still, sometimes you can overshoot the mark and turn to perfectionism. So you can't just complete your assignment - you need to ensure everything is flawless. When checking it, you can notice some things that you can improve. In that case, an average person would put it away with the thought, "Better done than perfect." Perfectionists, in turn, would spend hours polishing the result. And that's a time-management trap you should avoid at all costs.

Scheduling your day means having a particular amount of time for each duty. However, the whole plan will blaze if you try to make everything perfect. Every task will take more time than you expected, deadlines will start to burn, and people that depend on you will be disappointed. That's why you should remember that time management means you should finish the task at a specific time, not make it perfect.

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Wrapping up

So it's clear that time management is vital to your everyday productivity. It is not about how much time you have but how you use it. You should balance your hours, set the right priorities, and divide your time into activities that truly matter. For example, it might seem like the most productive thing you can do is to focus exclusively on your job or duty. Still, taking care of your mental and physical health may be more reasonable.

When you face a problem, it's easier to figure out how to fix it. Turn to time-management strategies if you continue to skip deadlines and sacrifice your private time to fix work issues.

There are many different strategies for managing your time. Some achievers like to use a calendar or planner to keep track of their appointments and deadlines. Other people prefer to plan their day, making lists of tasks they need to complete. In contrast, others like to break their day into smaller chunks of time devoted to specific tasks, such as an hour for email or phone calls. Try and find yours to manage your time as a pro!