How to manage your time effectively

By Lisa Lim

Useful tips to help save you time on simple tasks.

One thing that people often wish for is more time. The concept of time is unique- the days seem to pass slowly but before you know it, you’re actually more than halfway through 2018! It’s scary to think about how fast time seems to go.

Have you ever wondered why you don’t seem to get things done yet other people are achieving so much? While I can’t devise a way to make your day longer than 24 hours, I can give you some tips on managing your time.

Firstly, being busy does not equate to being effective. Doing too many things at once can actually backfire as your mind gets overloaded with too much information and you end up being less productive. Learn how to work smart instead of only working hard.

A good way to start is to come up with a to-do list. Jot down the things you need to do the evening before. This way you have a clear idea of what needs to be done the next day. Doing this effectively allows you to set goals every day and move towards bigger long term goals in the future.

Once you’re comfortable with making a list every evening, you can try keeping a weekly audit. This can be split into blocks of 30 minutes to an hour where you write down the things done during each period. This way, you can check whether you’re spending too much time being unproductive or taking too long to complete a particular task. From there, you can make minor adjustments to your schedule so that your day can be used productively.

Another way to do things is to switch up your schedule. For example, when I started working, I wanted to continue leading an active lifestyle by going for a jog after work at least three times a week. However, I would lose the motivation to work out every time I came home. I decided to try waking up about an hour and a half earlier instead since I was more of a morning person. This simple change allowed me to fit in my workout, get breakfast and feel accomplished at work by 9am. This change didn’t make me feel tired but instead I felt great and energised all day! Furthermore, I could fall asleep by 11pm without the use of any sleeping aids.

Did you know that some of the most successful people in the world wake up early every day? Apple’s CEO Tim Cook for example, wakes up at 3.45am every day. Clock in eight hours of sleep and try not to oversleep- too much sleep can make you feel moody and tired when you wake up. The goal is to strike a balance between rest, work and leisure. If 3.45am seems too extreme, you can try adjusting your sleep schedule by half an hour every week until you reach your desired wake up time. This allows your body to slowly get used to your sleeping habits and ease you into a new routine.

Complete your daily tasks from the hardest to the easiest. Many people find the first few hours of work most productive. Work on the more difficult tasks before you touch on another project. This way, there won’t be any excuses to skip a task and as the day goes by, you don’t feel too overwhelmed. If you are the type of person who gets easily distracted, try to put your phone on silent and your computer into “Do not disturb” or “Offline” mode.

Always remember to give yourself plenty of breaks. Have a ten-minute break every hour or go for a quick walk every two-three hours. Don’t force yourself to stay in your seat in order to be as productive as possible. Remember, the idea is to work smart.

A tip I learned from my colleague was the importance of a tidy environment. This includes cleaning out my email and making folders. I realised that the first thing I would do every Monday morning was to spend a half hour trying to clear and reply the previous weeks’ worth of email. Spend some time organising your email account and label everything so that it makes it easier to respond to an email. You could also unsubscribe from unnecessary websites and use labels on emails to easily identify them.

These tips have helped me greatly in managing my time. For so long I was confident that I was managing my time effectively but in reality, I wasn’t putting my time to good use. There were so many instances where I felt that there wasn’t enough time to get things done, until I learned to break my bad time management habits. This change didn’t happen in a day. It took months of being determined and focused. Being organised in things you can control can give you a greater sense of accomplishment and allow you to manage your time effectively.

Want to be notified when new insights are available?