9 Simple Tips for Taking Back Your Time Today

Time management isn’t about managing time.

It’s about modifying your behavior to make the most of the 24 hours a day each of us is given. That’s 168 hours per week and 8760 hours in a year.

Do you ever wonder how some people seem to pull off an amazing amount of accomplishments in a year while others barely have anything to show for their time on this planet?

If you sat down at the end of the year to write a year in review letter, would it be jam-packed with things you set as goals that you’ve accomplished, or would all of your accomplishments still be on your wish list?

If your tendency is more toward a wish list of unaccomplished goals, here are a few simple tips to help you begin to take back your time:

  1. Create appointments with yourself — set aside blocks of time to achieve specific tasks. I like to call this creating a “standardized schedule.” For example, if you always need to deliver a status report on Wednesday morning, block out time on your calendar every Tuesday to write your status report and you’ll always have time set aside to achieve that task during your work day.
  2. Cut five to ten minutes off every block of time scheduled for tasks.  Albert Einstein said, “Time is only an illusion.” What he meant is that we expand or contract our work to fill the time available. By allowing a little less time, tasks still get accomplished, and you’ll have “free” time at the end of the day to get a head start on tomorrow’s schedule, spend more time with your family or friends, or just take a breath!
  3. Treat the appointments you’ve created with yourself to get things done with the same respect and courtesy you would extend if there were another person present. Don’t get distracted by “shiny objects” such as new email arriving, the telephone ringing or a co-worker stopping by.
  4. Schedule and eat your live frog first. Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” The live frog task is the task you’re most likely to procrastinate and it may even have the most positive impact on your life or provide the biggest results in your business. By scheduling your “live frog” task first in your day then you’ll be done with it and can move on to other tasks.
  5. Focus on one task at a time. Multitasking kills your productivity as it can take 20-40 percent more time to finish a list of tasks when you multitask, compared with completing the same list of tasks in sequence.
  6. Break large, time-consuming tasks into smaller tasks. This serves several purposes. First, it enables you to break the task down into accomplishable steps and increases your likelihood of completing the overall task. This is like the metaphor of how do you eat an elephant – one bite at a time. Second, you can see the steps that are achievable now and schedule in the future the subsequent steps.
  7. Before you set up a new meeting, ask yourself if you can accomplish your agenda without a meeting or in an already scheduled meeting.
  8. Include an agenda in your meeting request. Then you and the attendees know what you want to accomplish and attendees will have enough information to come prepared to your meeting or self-select out if it doesn’t apply to them.
  9. Know when you are most productive and schedule time to work on your most difficult tasks then.
Tell me this: How did you get more from your time today? Please share your best tips with your fellow readers in the  comments below.

Shari McGuire writes a popular blog on how to shrink your work-week and expand your profits and productivity at shrinkyourworkweek.com. She is a coach, speaker and author of the book Take Back Your Time:  101 Simple Tips To Shrink Your Work-Week and Conquer the Chaos in Your Life.

If you enjoyed this article that was excerpted from her book, you can sign up for a free book chapter and receive a free CD of the #1 secret to shrink your work-week at takebackyourtimebook.com.

2 thoughts on “9 Simple Tips for Taking Back Your Time Today

  1. Thank you for your suggestion OptiLaunch. I agree that it’s important to get the work done today that needs to be done and not create a story for why we’re not going to accomplish it today. If however, the last two things on your list for today were nice to haves and it’s “quitting time”, I suggest you go ahead and walk away guilt free knowing you accomplished the important tasks of the day. You can pick up those last two tasks tomorrow.

  2. Love the suggestions-especially “the live frog.” I always tend to put off the most time consuming or undesirable task for later in the day (And sometimes it doesn’t get done). I also like the suggestion about multi-tasking. I am always trying to do 10 things at once or have my mind on other things while trying to complete something else. It is so important to focus on one thing at a time (easier said than done). One thing you didn’t mention that is instrumental for me is getting rid of any kind of justification. A lot of times I’m “too tired” or I’ve already done 4 out of the 6 things on my to do list so that’s enough for the day. Don’t justify things that are not justifiable. If you make a list or agenda I think its imperative that you stick to it-for your own psyche and productivity.

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