“Time is valuable”, “Time is money”, “We don’t want to waste time”: These and other phrases express how important time is for us. We all have the same number of hours a day. However, we often have the feeling that time is passing too quickly and that we cannot do everything we want or need. But there are methods and principles with which one can handle time better – can use it better. The psychology magazine Psychology Today reports on four ways you can better manage your time.
Even if studies can hardly determine any influence of time management on a person’s work performance, it is important for well-being. Time management is closely related to a number of mood factors such as stress, satisfaction or balance. Those who develop good time management can ensure that they are productive without unnecessary stress. These four principles, which come from social science research, will help you to optimize your own time management.
1. Filter your tasks
For good time management, it is important not to undertake too much. If you overcharge yourself, you will never feel that you can do anything. With the help of little tricks, however, you can make sure that you create a realistic to-do list for yourself. On the one hand, you should ask for details. Make sure you are realistic about the workload of a task. Can that be achieved or is the task too big for too little time?
In case you have any concerns, you should learn to say no sometimes. If something is too much for you or if other colleagues are related to it, it is sometimes better to decline a task before risking the cooperation due to stress. It is important not only to your colleagues but also to yourself to be aware of your own availability. Be transparent about what to do and when. This can increase mutual understanding for the respective pace of work.
2. Get used to a system
There are plenty of time management tips and tricks out there. For the optimal allocation of your personal time, it is important not to try out all systems at the same time, but to make one a habit. Since everyone has different ways of working, work systems do not work the same for everyone.
Get used to writing things down and classifying them. Not only the most important dates and events, but also ideas, notes and feedback. So that the filing of so much information doesn’t get too chaotic, you should make sure that you sort the entries regularly.
For example, different symbols or colors can represent different things. Once you’ve developed a system for yourself, stick with it. With habit it becomes clearer and more structured, which leads to better time management.
3. Prioritize tasks and do the most important things first
Writing yourself a to-do list is not necessarily enough to do everything you set out to do. For the most successful time management possible, it is important to do the most urgent tasks first. A simple importance-urgency scheme helps to prioritize your own tasks:
1. Not urgent – not important: These tasks are your last. If something is not urgent and not important, you can cross it off your to-do list.
2. Urgent – not important: If it is urgent but not important to you, you can try to hand over these tasks. You should devote yourself to the tasks that are important to you.
3. Not urgent – important: Most of the time these are tasks that take up a lot of time. When you’ve done all the urgent things, plan time for these tasks.
4. Urgent – important: You should do these tasks first. They are important and urgent. The sooner you finish them, the more you can focus on the less urgent tasks.
4. Divide your time strategically – managers and doers
Another principle of dividing your time sensibly is according to the manager or doer principle. With the manager principle, you allocate time periods of five to ten minutes to work on tasks as productively as possible. You have to act, think and solve problems quickly and with agility. To do this, it is important to have full awareness of the present moment.
If you work according to the do-it-yourself principle, you divide your time into units of two to four hours. According to this principle, it is best to work alone so that you can develop your diversity and creativity. In order to be able to work as productively as possible, you have to be in the flow and expose yourself to as few interruptions as possible. For this it makes sense to announce in advance the wish not to be disturbed and also to turn off the computers and cell phones. If you do have to schedule a meeting, first think about when it suits you and then suggest specific dates. This way you can be sure to make the most of your time.