Nowadays it seems like everyone is busy all of the time. But the real question is – what are you busy doing?
Are we productive or are we wasting our time on things of little value and procrastinating. How can we make
the most of our time? The answer to many of our productivity problems is an effective time management plan.
This allows us to set our priorities and ensure we achieve what matters during the day. But this easier said than
done. We all know what it’s like to waste time day in day out and failing to achieve our daily goals. By learning
to use your time effectively, you can reap the benefits of a time management plan that actually works. If you
don’t want to join the 92 percent of people who fail to achieve their long-term goals, you need to keep reading
for our ultimate time management plan guide.
1. How to Set Goals
There are many different methods of setting goals. Some are better than others in helping you manage your
time effectively. Setting goals are the foundation of any successful time management plan.
By far the best and most popular goal setting method is the so-called S-M-A-R-T method. This stands for the
When you’re thinking about setting goals, make sure each S-M-A-R-T goal setting attribute is checked off.
But most of all, make sure you really want to achieve the goal you set. You can do all the time management
thinking and research you want unless you’re motivated to achieve the goal, you won’t succeed.
2. Use a Time Management Systems
Now you’ve established your goals, and you know how to set them, it’s time to get a time management
system that actually works. This is the cornerstone of any time management plan. There are many different
types of time management systems with unique benefits and drawbacks. However, one of the most popular
and effective is the time management grid system. Based on President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s so-called
“Eisenhower Matrix,” the business writer, Stephen Covey promotes the Time Management Matrix system.
As explained in his “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” the time management system allows you split
activities according to whether they are urgent/importance. By distinguishing between tasks that are urgent,
important, both or neither, you can make sure you prioritize things that actually matter. While eventually
getting to the tasks that go into neither box.
3. Get Organized
As the saying goes, “tidy desk, tidy mind.” While organization and tidiness isn’t everyone’s thing, it definitely
helps when it comes to your time management plan. If you have a clear space to do your work, you’re less
likely to get distracted. You don’t have to do it all in one day, take your time to get your house in order slowly.
4. Record How You Spend Your Time
Do we actually even know how we spend our time? Sometimes it might feel like you’ve been really productive,
but you actually haven’t done anything. Whereas there are certainly times when you think you haven’t
achieved anything all day, but when you check your to-do list, it’s empty. One way you can monitor how
productively you’re spending your time is by keeping a record of it. This way you know if you’re sticking to
your time management plan. You can do this in your journal or just by using your smartphone. At the end
of one hour of work, consider whether you wasted time or not. This is where you can use the time management
5. Start with the Big Things
Now you’re getting into the rhythm of the world of serious time management; you need to learn the lingo.
Big things are MITs, or most important tasks. As the writer and wit, Mark Twain remarked, “if it’s your job
to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.” By getting the MITs out of the way early on in the
morning, you know you’ve accomplished something. This means to start the day with the tasks in the urgent
and important boxes of your time management matrix.
6. Always Remember the Pareto Principle
The Pareto Principle, named after the economist Vilfredo Pareto, states that 80 percent of the effects come
from 20 percent of the efforts. Because of this, it’s also known as the 80-20 rule. This means that the majority
of peas come from just a few pea-pods. The same can be said of how you spend your time. Once you identify
the 20 percent that is working best, focus on making this bigger, better and more efficient. This is likely to
improve your overall results of anything you’re doing.
7. Make Use of Keystone Habits
As the Ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle said, “quality is not an act, it is a habit.” This is still true today
about keeping to your time management plan. But keystone habit is a concept introduced by Charles Duhig
in his “The Power of Habit.” In this book, he argues that keystone habits are not only good habits in themselves
but they also help you create further good habits and get rid of bad habits. Whether it’s an early morning walk
or a particular breakfast. Once you find out what your keystone habits are, make sure you keep doing them.
8. Get Rid of Bad Habits
While keystone habits need to be promoted, the bad ones need to go. This is easy to say, but bad habits are
difficult to kick. That’s why they’re bad habits. We all have different things that distract us. Whether it’s
scrolling down your news-feed on Facebook or watching videos on Youtube, the internet is littered with
distractions. If you are going to make the most of your time in the day, you have to learn to get rid of the bad
habits. Some of these can be solved by simply not going on Facebook or Youtube. But others take even more
willpower to stay away from.
9. Make Time to Respond to Emails and Messages
In the days of instant messaging services and constant flows of emails, it’s so easy to get distracted throughout
the day. But most emails and messages do not need to be read straight away, never-mind responded to. If
something is really urgent, people will call your cell phone. That’s why you can focus better on your urgent
and important tasks by making time for responding to emails and messages. Whether it’s the first thing in
the morning or the last thing at night, schedule time to read and respond. The rest of the time, turn off your
emails and messaging services so that you’re not distracted by the constant flow. You can also do this with
social media app alerts. This could make a huge difference to making sure you keep to your time management
10. Take Breaks Regularly
If you’re trying to be productive, it’s common to think that you can’t afford to have breaks from work. After all,
you have too much to do. But actually, research into time management shows that people who take regular
breaks are actually significantly more productive as a result. According to research by the productivity app,
DeskTime, by working for 52 minutes between 17-minute breaks, you’ll be at your optimum level of
productivity. But the bad news is that the best breaks are not watching videos of cats playing the piano or
checking out the latest gossip on Twitter. The best things to do are go for a walk outside or talk to a colleague
11. Do Exercise and Mindfulness
The latest research into time management finds that exercise helps you to be more productive. Everyone knows
that exercise is good for your body, but it’s also good for staying mentally sharp. Doing regular exercise is a
great way to start your day. As Forbes Magazine said, “Mindfulness is more than a Buzzword.” An increasing
number of businesses and organizations are providing their employees with mindfulness sessions. This is not
because they want their staff to reach enlightenment, it’s because research shows that mindfulness and
meditation make us more productive and better at time management.
12. Plan the Night Before
Most people think that the key to an effective time management plan is all about how you spend your money.
And while Twain is wise to say to eat your frogs in the morning, the planning process starts the night before.
Before you go to bed or finish your day’s work, you should make lists of things you want to achieve tomorrow.
This won’t only help you to sleep better at night, but it’ll also mean you’re more productive the next day.
13. Discover Motivation and Inspiration
Sometimes you’ll find that you’re simply not motivated or inspired by anything. We all have those types of
days. There is no easy solution to these feelings. But you might find that listening to an inspirational speaker
on Youtube, such as TED Talks or reading an amazing story of something pulling themselves up from their
bootstraps to overcome obstacles, can really make a difference. Discover what works for you when you’ll feel
demotivated and uninspired.
Be Productive with a Time Management Plan
With this guide to setting up your own time management plan, you can make sure you stop wasting time and
focus on what you want to achieve. If you want to become your own boss or do freelance work, being productive
is the difference between success or failure. In other words, paying the bills or not. If you want to find out
more about how you can be your own boss, check out our blog posts today, or comment below.