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How To Learn And Develop Your Time Management Skills

Top 10 tips for improving your time management skills

Manage your time better

Time management can be a major part of keeping healthy.

Good time management means you have a more realistic chance of completing all of your daily duties but still fitting in those healthy habits.

Time management is also a good stress reliever because a significant amount of stress comes from meeting deadlines and achieving what you set out to do in the required time frame.

As discussed in our article Understanding Mental Health – coping with everyday stresses, realising potential and working productively and fruitfully are all major reasons for positive mental health. Those who lack order in their life due to poor time management skills tend to suffer the greatest from stress and mental illness.

Time stress

Procrastination and distraction are the devils in this game so we have compiled 10 great time management tips that will help you fight those demons and gain some extra free hours during your day.

Even better, these tips will cost you absolutely nothing, nada, zero. No swish software to download, no Tony Robbins style conference to attend and no subtle ‘sign ups’ on how to develop these skills!

For sure, with our simple to follow time management tips you will create a happier, healthier and richer life.

Remember – being “richer” doesn’t have to relate to financial wealth!

Top Ten Time Management Tips

On-Point Planning

First and foremost, you need to think about exactly what it is that you want to achieve. Always be realistic at this stage, otherwise you will be doomed to fail before you’ve even started. Begin with baby steps…

Initially, we recommend composing a ‘To Do’ list every single day. Either write your goals in a notebook, as a ‘stickie’ on your laptop (or tablet), or type them into your phone ‘notes’.

Wherever they’re written, you must have the ability to cross them out when complete. This is a vital part of the achievement process! In gaining little “successes” throughout the day you achieve a much needed feeling of satisfaction, which motivates you to soldier on through the list.

Being in control of your daily tasks also adds to the benefits of such a list. Having a daily planning routine, no doubt, makes you more organised and less stressed. No more late appointments, no more forgotten tasks and a much calmer, relaxed state.

As mentioned above, you have to be realistic with your expectations. A list of 40 ‘To Do’s” in one day will prove somewhat impossible. If anything, this will add to your stress! We recommend starting with a daily 10 point plan of exactly what you need to do that day, then adjust based on how you progress.

Plan your schedule

Having made a realistic list of tasks to complete throughout the day, the next step is prioritizing! If you can categorize the importance of tasks with a code, it will help you to clarify where your priorities lie within your ‘To Do’ list. We recommend three categories, in line with the colours that we all know in our trusty traffic light system!

  • Red to indicate: Stop – urgent.
  • Amber to indicate: Warning – important but not urgent.
  • Green to indicate: Neither urgent or important but still needs to be done

If you want to follow in the footsteps of an exceptional performer in leadership and time management, who better than a former Navy SEAL commander Jocko Willink. Check out chapter 7 of his book Extreme Ownership entitled ‘Prioritize and Execute.’

There are a few golden rules to stick to in order to become more productive but after that it’s simply a question of discipline. Again, if you want a ‘field manual’ on how you can create freedom in your life by being more disciplined, Jocko is your man – Disclipline Equals Freedom Field Manual by Jocko Willink.

1. Think about what you want to achieve today.

2. Write a ‘To Do’ list numbered 1–10 as part of your daily planning ritual.

3. Execute your tasks based on your priorities.

Happy Eating

We all do it – some too much, some too little. Some do it on the sofa, some prefer it in bed. Eating is an essential part of our day and consequently should also be managed.

Not just when and where, but also what.

Good nutrition can take time, typically bad nutrition doesn’t. Sometimes, it’s all too easy to grab a packet of crisps on the hop and call it lunch.

But what nutritional value are you getting from this?

And how long will it keep your from feeling hungry again?

We all NEED to eat sensibly in order to boost our energy, keep our brain active and fend off illness. You will certainly be less productive if you are tired, lethargic or sick!

We recommend meal planning for the day, or even week, ahead; ideally compiling an agenda of what to have for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Just like your “To Do” list, it keeps you focused on your priorities, deterring your brain from “easy wins” like crisps. Your brain likes to conserve energy. If it doesn’t have to think about what your consuming, it wont, which is why you have to make a conscious effort to plan according to your nutritional goals.

If this this sort of planning proves just too overwhelming initially, begin with just catering for dinners; then progress onto lunch and dinners; then breakfast, lunch and dinners; then the whole day, snacks included!

Being quick, easy and satisfying doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice nutrition!

For quick, easy, satisfying meal ideas, check out our article “Quick Healthy Meals” here:

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Please share your plans, images and tips with pride. As a community we can build healthier lives together! The MHV community needs you!

4. Plan your meals for the day or week ahead.

5. Use the comments box below and our social media pages to benefit from the MHV community. Share plans, images and tips so the whole community can prosper! Use the tags #MHV and #MHVlife so we join in the fun.

Exercising Your Right

Exercise should always be factored into your day. Even for you haters!

It’s a vital part of how you maintain energy and brain functionality throughout the day. Increased energy and greater brain functionality leads to enhanced productivity – a real time saver!

It has also been clearly demonstrated that exercise improves mood and has antidepressant effects on the brain. So…

THE MORE YOU MOVE, THE BETTER YOUR MOOD!

We’re not talking excruciatingly expensive gym memberships or dangling from the ceiling in yoga hammocks – A simple walk, cycle or swim will do the trick. In fact, the ‘unifying theory‘ suggests that stress is reduced “when regular exercisers undertake aerobic exercise at a level with which they are familiar.”

Less stress, higher energy, increased brain functionality, better mood – All result from exercise and will all attribute to increased productivity.

INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY = LESS TIME SPENT ON TASKS = MORE TIME SAVED.

6. Move!

Stop Right There

Stop to smell the roses

We know there are a huge amount of self-awareness techniques out there to help re-balance, re-adjust and re-think lives. Some will suit, some won’t, but what we cannot doubt is the benefits that come with a bit of mindfulness.

The evidence is apparent – top performers meditate. Tim Ferriss mentioned that, when compiling his book, ‘Tribe of Mentors‘ around “90%” of the top class performers mentioned had “some type of morning mindfulness or meditation practice.”

From business leaders through to sporting greats, these people are generally time poor but nearly all of them find time to meditate!

So why not try it yourself? Literally just taking a few minutes out to stop, breathe and not think is pure, simple and highly effective.

When was the last time you simply “were?”

The great thing about meditation is you can do it anywhere… No-one needs to know what you’re doing and it doesn’t cost a penny. Try it, it’s a powerful tool…

7. Take time each day to just ‘be’.

Loving Like A Boss

The heart is a muscle that must also be exercised.

We must all aim to make time for others during our day – be it our own children or elderly Doris who lives alone next-door.

If it’s impossible to see them, at least attempt some form of contact – a phone-call or face-time perhaps.

Not only does this help retain relations, it’s also good for the soul.

Love life

Although this is not a time management technique, it has been included in our list because of how important it is.

As humans, we are vessels put on this earth to experience emotions not gifted to other beings. So love when you can love, feel when you can feel and make the most of all encounters!

8. No matter what, make time for family and friends.

Inbox Influx

Aim for a predominantly empty email inbox. Due to our hectic everyday lives, our inbox tends to suffer by mounting up with never ending emails. Hence we don’t reply when we’re meant to, don’t delete when we should and don’t delegate when we could.

Plan and manage your time

We recommend allocating half an hour each day to the management of your personal emails, which will ensure the backlog doesn’t get out of control. Initially, more than half an hour might be required (if you’ve got thousands to go through). This tip will guarantee you much more effective time management and ensure that you are fully aware of any current demands upon you.

Another tactic you can take to reduce an overflowing inbox it to use the same method followed by Tim Ferriss in the Four Hour Work Week – Define, Eliminate, Automate and Liberate.

9. Keep inbox emails to a minimum.

Shut Eye

Although it sounds counter-intuitive, rest, especially sleep, is one of the most important factors in managing your time.

Get enough sleep

If you’re tired, you simply can’t function productively, let alone have the energy to initiate time management techniques you’ve learned from this article.

We recommend at least eight hours of good quality zzzzz’s.

Want to know more? Read our article – The Importance Of Rest And Relaxation

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10. Quality sleep is essential.

Everything Is Temporary!

It is really important that you don’t worry if:

a) you don’t complete all the tasks you set out to achieve and

b) you’ve been unable to address each of the above ‘top ten’ in your mission to enhance your time management skills.

After all, we’re aiming to reduce your stress, not heighten it.

If you do find yourself feeling stressed because of time pressure, just remember that EVERYTHING IS TEMPORARY!

Emotions, thoughts, people, scenery, deadlines – everything is temporary. Enjoy things when they are going good and don’t worry if you’re not achieving your targets, it wont last forever!

If good time management doesn’t come naturally to you, try utilising some of the tips mentioned in this article and keep practising them until they become a habit. Good habits are just as strong as bad habits but they take time to develop.

For more on forming habits, our article on preparing your mind for the year ahead is well worth a  read…

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Please use the comments box below to:

1. Tell us what points in this article you found useful.

2. Tell us if you disagree with any of our points.

3. Share your best time saving secrets.

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