Yes, accomplishing all five seems close to impossible, but pocket these time management tips to maximize efficiency and you might escape with more time on your hands.

1. Learn how to say “no”

Let’s face it. We are the main culprit when it comes to our level of busy. But why is it so hard to say no? The word ‘no’ in and of itself has a negative stigma. Saying no to someone can feel like rejecting that person. Perhaps we avoid the word out of fear; we’re afraid someone will take offense, of what others will think, or how they might interpret the unseen implications of ‘no.’ Will they ever come to me again? Will saying no to them diminish trust? Some of these questions are valid fears depending on the person and situation, but saying no is vital to effective time management. So, instead of overthinking the situation, use these strategies to cushion the the next time you simply can’t afford to say yes:

  • Just add a ‘thanks’ at the end.
  • Offer another solution/suggestion
  • Don’t fully commit up front. Give them an estimated amount of time for you to decide. For example, say something like this: “Let me check my calendar and see if I have space for that. I will let you know by tomorrow around noon.”
  • If you truly can’t perform the task, be transparent and say although you would love to, you must decline because you feel inadequate for the job.

These tips don’t need to stay in the office. A lot of your workplace stresses can come from your external environment. Use the same tactics to kindly decline opportunities that will unnecessarily overcrowd your schedule at work and in your personal life.

2. Don’t just go through the motions

“Don’t confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but doesn’t make any progress.” – Alfred Montapert

After a long day’s work you plop down on your couch, exhausted after an extremely busy day at the office. As you unwind and think about all that you accomplished, you realize you didn’t actually get a lot done. It just doesn’t make sense. Turns out, you can keep yourself extremely busy, but the work you’ve been keeping busy with isn’t results-driven. Think about impact. Cut out items on your list that don’t contribute to your goals.

Trying to multitask too much is another contributor to an unproductive, yet extremely busy day at work. Pick one or two items at the beginning of the day that you know you can get finished. Don’t let distractions pull you away from completing those two tasks. That way, no matter what, you know you accomplished two important things. Depending on the amount of work required for each task, you could accomplish a lot more than just two. Make sure the two items you select fall under the mission critical category (a.k.a., things that help you reach your short/long term goals).

four young business professionals work together in a meeting showing time management helps.

3. Start sprinting

In a race, you’re supposed to start out slower and sprint to the finish line. However, we want you to do the exact opposite. Think about how much energy you have at the end of a long day. Now think about how much energy you have after lunch. If you function like most workers, your energy dips after lunch and continue to dip until 5 or 6pm hits. The average employee loses motivation the closer they get to dinner time in the comfort of their home.

So, in the mornings, use that initial energy and motivation to knock out the most difficult part of a project, or the most essential item on your list. As your energy decreases and motivation falls, increase your likelihood of making it to the finish with some well-placed time management strategies. Organize your to-do list with the most important/difficult tasks first. Let your brain take a breather with the less strenuous tasks as the day progresses. If every task on your plate is a marathon, hopefully you have a lot of endurance built up. If not, break it down into doable tasks and pace yourself throughout the day.

4. Create balance

“Align your professional and personal goals for maximum efficiency.” – Chris Guillebeau

What you do at home affects how you function at work. Are you getting enough sleep? Eating enough? Watching Netflix enough (probably the most important of the three)? Each individual follows a personal routine. Check in with yourself once a week to evaluate how you feel and adjust accordingly. Instead of comparing the quality of your life to others,’ find out what works best for you. Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson said, “It doesn’t matter what your system is, you have to have a system.”

Create your ideal system. Find out what gets your blood pumping in the morning. Discover what you need to do to recharge your energy in the evening. Then align that with your personal and professional values to create a picturesque daily routine.

5. Communicate sooner than later

As a team player, you collaborate with co-workers and supervisors on a daily basis. The communication process takes up most of the time when it comes to assigning and completing tasks. If a team learns to communicate clearly and frequently follows up, imagine how much time they save when they eliminate re-phrasing sales material, re-assigning tasks, and re-doing projects.

If you’re not sure exactly what your task is or what methods you need to use, remember to communicate. It will save you from doing it wrong the first time.

Additional resources

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