As the world gets busier and more complicated, time management is a skill that many people want to improve upon. Many strategies have emerged, but it can be difficult to distinguish between ones that are effective and ones that are not. Below are some time management strategies that are backed by evidence.
1. Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions
The first step of this technique involves identifying a task that must be done in the future, and then imagining/visualizing your goals for completing this task. Next, visualize all of the obstacles that are currently holding you back, or steps that must be taken to complete the task. Then, create a concrete action plan that you can use to overcome each obstacle if you encounter it. Practicing this strategy with each of your tasks on your to-do list is a good way to increase productivity and achieve your goals. For this strategy to be fully effective, you must be prepared to implement the action plan if you encounter the obstacles you visualized. To learn more about mental contrasting with implementation intentions, click here.
2. Practice Single-Tasking
Doing one task at a time greatly increases our productivity and quality of work, which allows us to manage our tasks better. To learn more about single-tasking, click here.
3. Plan Your Day
When possible, plan your day and allot an appropriate amount of time to each task you need to get done. This can help you determine if you have enough time to get everything done that you were hoping to, or if you need to reconsider what you're able to do. It can also help by preventing you from spending too much time on a single task unnecessarily.
To effectively manage our time, we must be able to prioritize tasks that are important or urgent so that we can get these tasks done first. This can help prevent being overwhelmed later. To practice prioritizing tasks and determining which one to do first, think of the consequences of not getting the task done, how the task aligns with your goals and why the task is important or urgent.
5. Practice Saying No
Instead of trying to fit too many tasks into your day, set boundaries for yourself and focus on what's most important. It's better to do a few things effectively without burning yourself out than to try to spread yourself too thin. Practice determining if a task is truly important, being honest with yourself about how much time and energy you have, and saying no to extra tasks that will overwhelm you.
6. Take Breaks When You Need It
Taking breaks allows you to recharge and keep being able to do the things you need or want to do. Skipping rest may seem like a good way to get more done, but this only prevents us from doing future tasks effectively and can make our time management much worse. Rest is one of the most productive things you can do when you feel tired or overwhelmed.