What Are Time Management Skills?
There are many time management skills. Here are my top 9. These’ll help you improve your time management in simple steps you can implement today.
Goal setting is a huge key to time management. By knowing where you want to be, you can decide what to focus your time on. Knowing who you want to be and what personal and work goals you want to hit allows you to be able to break it down into smaller, actionable steps which can be planned into monthly, weekly and daily goals.
With the common SMART goal setting method, you’ll be able to tell when you’ve hit your goals and will make it easier to break your goals into smaller chunks.
This should help make the goal clear. And answer the questions what, why, who, where and which.
Adding numbers and metrics to your goals will help you track progress and give an indication of achieving the goal.
Setting goals that stretch you but are still doable is important. You don’t want unrealistic goals which won’t happen.
Is the goal something that matters to you and makes sense?
Setting a time frame of when you’ll complete the goal gives you a deadline that will help drive momentum.
How To Set Goals With Examples
To get an in-depth view of SMART goal setting, click this link.
Starting goal: I want to grow my social media.
- Why do I want to grow my social media? What social media do I want to grow?
- I want to grow my Pinterest following so that I get more traffic to my website.
- How will I know when I’ve achieved it?
- I want 1,000 followers and 50,000 monthly unique views (MUV).
- Can I achieve this? Is this too hard now that I’ll be setting myself up for failure?
- I already have 20,000 monthly unique views so I can grow it.
- Does this matter to me? Why?
- I want to grow my Pinterest as I want to diversify my traffic sources. I don’t want to rely on 1 traffic source.
- When do I want to achieve this by? What can I do in ½ the amount of time?
- I want 50,000 MUV and 1,000 followers within 18 months. In 9 months, I want 500 followers and 35,000 MUV.
End goal: I want to grow my Pinterest followers to 1,000 and 50,000 MUV in 18 months so I can diversify my traffic sources and get more people to my website. Within 9 months, I want 500 followers and 35,000 MUV.
Starting Goal: I want financial freedom.
- S: I want to earn money while I sleep so that I can spend more time travelling.
- M: I want to earn £100,000 a year. I want to travel abroad once a month.
- A: I will need to learn more about creating digital products and getting coaching to get there.
- R: This is achievable as I’m already earning consistent money from my business.
- T: I want to earn £100,000 in 2 years. In 6 months, I will have taken a course about digital products.
End Goal: I want to earn £100,000 a year within 2 years so that I can travel abroad once a month. In 6 months, I will have taken a course about digital products. Within 1 year I will have 3 digital products for sale.
Starting Goal: I want to grow my email list.
- S: I want to grow my email list so that I can increase the number of sales of my product.
- M: I want 2,500 email subscribers.
- A: I will need to learn more about email marketing and content upgrades.
- R: This is achievable as I already have grown my list before.
- T: Within 1 year, I want to have 2,500 subscribers. Within 6 months, I want 1,750.
End Goal: I want to grow my email list to 2,500 subscribers within 1 year so that I can increase the number of the sales of my product. Within 6 months, I want 1,750 subscribers.
Planning For Time Management
Planning your months, weeks and days will help you work towards your big goals. Therefore, it helps you to focus on your priorities. And by planning what needs to get done, it helps you see where you time is being spent.
How To Plan
2 keys to remember:
- Plan quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily
- Have a 20-30 min plan session each week
My weekly planning routine:
- On a Sunday afternoon or evening, I gather all my planner, pens, stickers, washi tape, and phone
- I check the calendar on my phone for any appointments or events
- I list out all my tasks and events and things to remember for this week in a list (I do this on 1 page of my bullet journal).
- Any Asana tasks due this week.
- Appointments, events, and webinars happening.
- Notes on what I need to remember this week.
- Any tasks I didn’t finish last week.
- Any other tasks that crop up during the week go onto this list.
- Then I add any appointments or events to the corresponding day.
My daily planning routine:
- The night before (e.g. plan Monday night for Tuesday), I gather my planner and pen.
- I choose my most important task (MIT – see prioritising below) for the day and add that into a box or make the letters larger. I want it to stand out when I look at the page tomorrow.
- Then I add a couple of other tasks that I want to get done if I complete my MIT.
- On the day, I review my planner after breakfast to see what I’ve got coming up during the day.
To learn more about planning your week, click here.
Prioritising is about doing your most important tasks (MIT) first. By doing your MIT first thing in the day, it helps give you motivation to tackle the rest of your to-do’s.
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” – Mark Twain
There are multiple ways to prioritise what tasks need to be done.
- Ask, if I can only achieve 1 thing today, what would it be?
- Choose your top 3 to-dos for the day and focus on getting them done 1-by-1
- 4 quadrant method
- Urgent and important
- Tasks that need to be done today or tomorrow
- These tasks are often to do with someone else’s goals
- Not urgent but important (where your focus wants to be)
- Tasks that need to be done at some point so schedule them
- These tasks usually involve working towards your goals
- Urgent but not important
- Tasks that you can delegate
- Not urgent or important (where your focus doesn’t want to be)
- Don’t do these tasks
- Urgent and important
How To Prioritise
Most Important Task (MIT):
- If you could only achieve 1 thing today, what would it be?
- Some examples are:
- Writing a blog post
- Setting up a welcome email
- Writing 1 page of your eBook
- Rewriting your homepage copy
- Brainstorming 10 blog posts
- Creating a marketing plan
- Urgent and important
- What tasks need to be completed today?
- Not urgent but important
- What will get me towards my goals but doesn’t need completing today?
- Urgent but not important
- What tasks can I outsource to a VA or someone else?
- Not urgent or important
- What tasks can I cut off my list that won’t make much of a difference to my life or business?
Adding deadlines to projects and tasks gives you focus and something to work towards. Without deadlines, tasks and projects can end up filling up your time. So, deadlines are a great time management skill to learn.
Without deadlines, you may think, “I’ve got all week to write this post. I’ll do/finish it later.” If you gave it a deadline, your thoughts switch to “I’ve got to get it done today. I’ll do it now.”
How To Add Deadlines
- Choose what you want to accomplish.
- Write all the tasks you need to do for the project or task.
- Estimate how long it would take you to do all tasks.
- Add a bit extra time.
N.B. The more you give yourself deadlines, the more you’ll be able to see how long it takes you to do tasks.
- To launch Plan and Flourish, I gave myself 90 days!
- I will write this blog post within 3 hours.
- I’ll give myself 4 hours to outlining my digital product today.
- I will launch my digital product within 2 months.
- I will spend 1 hour on my emails today.
Self-discipline goes hand in hand with deadlines. If you set a deadline of writing a post today, use self-discipline to sit down and write instead of browsing the web. Self-discipline is relevant to thoughts, behaviours, emotions and habits.
How To Use Self-Discipline In Your Life
You can use rewards to start with when you’re cultivating self-discipline. But the best way to get more of it is to practice!
What are some non-negotiables? What do you want to achieve?
Some examples include:
- I don’t want to create content; I want to go on social media. So, I’ll spend x minutes on a content project then I’ll spend x minutes on social media.
- I can’t be bothered to work out today, but I will because I’ve committed to it.
- I don’t want to write this blog post, but I will because I said I’ll post every week.
- Waking up at 7 am is hard but I’m going to do it anyway so I can fit in a run.
- I really don’t want to do my social media today, but I made it a goal to grow my social media, so I’m going to post. And then afterward I’ll watch a Youtube video.
When your physical space is organised, it can help you focus because your mind isn’t looking at the clutter and thinking ‘I need to organise that now!’ And when your stuff is organised, you can cut down on the time it takes to find things. This also applies to your digital space on your phone and computer.
How To Organise For Time Management
- Files organised into folders.
- Blog Posts: Biz Name -> Blog Posts -> Drafted & Published (e.g. Plan and Flourish -> Blog Posts -> Published -> Time Management)
- Social Media Images: Biz Name -> Photos -> Year -> Month -> Post Topic (e.g. Plan and Flourish -> Photos -> 2019 -> July -> Time Management)
- Organise emails using labels and filters. Then delete old emails. And unsubscribe from emails if you haven’t opened the last 3-4 that came in.
- Keep like items together (e.g. all pens in the same location)
- Is your desk clear except for what you’re working on at that moment?
Learning to say no is a useful time management tool. Not only is it a form of prioritising, but it also helps you gain confidence in going after a life you love by making decisions that are right for you.
When you say no because your workload is too much or the decision doesn’t align with your priorities, you’re creating a life for you and not for someone else.
At the end of the day, you can make more money, but you can’t create more time.
How To Say No
If an offer doesn’t align with your goals and priorities or you don’t want to do it, say “no thank you.”
If you can’t face saying no in the moment, say “I’ll have to get back to you once I’ve checked my schedule.” then make sure to say, “Thank you for the offer but no.”
Giving yourself breaks is a quick and easy time management technique you can start today. Taking breaks help you to have a higher level of focus as your brain has a chance to rest. Without taking a break, your tasks just blur together, and you get tired as your brain hasn’t had the opportunity to relax.
Having lunch breaks may allow you to be more focused in the afternoon as you’ve taken a break and you’re ready to come back to your work with a fresh perspective. Have you ever been really stuck on a task, taken a break from it and then when you go back it’s easy to solve? That’s the benefit of breaks.
As you’re your own boss, you get to choose when you get breaks, so use them! And take them away from the computer. Read, exercise, go for a walk, chat to someone, make a drink, get something to eat.
How To Take Breaks In Your Day
Choose a time for a lunch break. What time would you like to have your lunch, have a break from work or go back to work? Do you want 30 minutes, 1 hour or 1.5 hours? What do you want to do on your lunch break – walk, read, exercise, chat to people, run errands?
- You want to go for a 30-minute walk on your lunch break. So, you’ll need 1 hour for your break. Ideally, you’d start lunch at 1pm. So, your lunch break’s 1-2pm.
- You like to start work again at 1:30pm. During your lunch, you want to read. 45 minutes seems like a long enough lunch break for you. Your lunch is between 12:45pm – 1:30pm.
- During lunch, you like to run errands, which usually take at least 1 hour. Therefore, you factor 1.5 hours for lunch. You could have a lunch break between 12:30pm – 2pm.
Breaks when you’re working:
If you use the pomodoro technique, you’ll get breaks every 25 minutes. (25 minutes work, 5 minutes break, 25 minutes work, 5 minutes break, 25 minutes work, 5 minutes break, 25 minutes work, 15 minutes break).
Otherwise, I would recommend factoring in breaks every 90 minutes, when you feel like you need to step away from the work you’re doing or when you swap the time of work you’re doing (e.g. moving from creating blog posts to looking at your marketing plan).
If you feel rubbish or negative your time will disappear and your tasks will sit unfinished. Negative thoughts and comparing yourself to others can make you feel demoralised and like you aren’t able to do the work. Then you don’t end up doing the work.
A positive, can do attitude will change your time management.
A huge thanks to Suzi at Start a Mom Blog for making me aware of this.
How To Cultivate A Positive Mindset
One of the best ways to cultivate a positive mindset is to surround yourself with people who have a positive mindset. This doesn’t have to be in-person, it can be online or in books. Here are some ways you can learn from people:
- Read business, personal development and biography books
- Watch YouTube videos
- Listen to podcasts
- Listen to audiobooks
- Read blog posts
- Join a mastermind
- Join a local networking group
- Join a Facebook group for other female entrepreneurs or business owners
There are many ways you can have better time management skills.
The 9 tips are:
- Set SMART goals
- Plan your week
- Prioritise your tasks
- Add deadlines to tasks and projects
- Practice self-discipline
- Organise your physical and digital space
- Say no
- Take breaks throughout your day
- Cultivate a positive mindset
3 Action Steps
- Choose a 20-30 min time slot this week to plan next week
- Have a break today. Take a lunch break away from your desk or a 10 min break for a drink, exercise or chat to someone.
- Choose your number 1 most important task today.