7 Tricks to Better Manage Your Time – Part 1

7 Tricks to Better Manage Your Time – By Erinn Bucklan –

1.  Make the Most of Your Minutes

Choosing wise ways to use our time is critical to reaching our goals. After all, “Time is a precious, nonrenewable resource,” says author Brigid Schulte of Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time. “It’s all those small decisions we make with what to do with five minutes here, 10 minutes there, how to spend the afternoon, that really wind up defining your life.”

When you’re bogged down with a never-ending to-do list, try some (or all!) of these time management hacks.

2.  Track Your Time

Set up a log to record your minutes. “If you want to spend your time better, figure out how you’re spending it now,” says Laura Vanderkam, author of I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make The Most of Their Time and 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. She recommends keeping a time log for a week; the format doesn’t matter.

“You can write it down in a journal [or] use a spreadsheet or a time-tracking app,” says Vanderkam. One app to check out is RescueTime. For $9 a month (with a 14-day free trial), this program will clock your daily habits to show you how long you’re away from your computer or on certain sites or applications, provide weekly reports of your productivity, and even (if you want) block you from distracting websites.

At least one-quarter of your activities will likely fall under the category of “low-value” tasks that are either “relatively easy to drop, delegate, or outsource,” saving you up to 10 hours of time a week for more important duties, according to the Harvard Business Review.

3.  Take Breaks

“We only have 90-minute attention spans,” says Schulte. “The brain can concentrate on anything if it knows a break is coming soon. Choose your most important task and do it first when your willpower is strongest and your mind freshest, then plan to devote your attention in 30-, 45-, or 90-minute ‘pulses.’ Then take a break.”

Schulte adds that insights are even more likely to hit when we’re taking that break, so don’t think of that time you use to take a walk or daydream as goofing off.

4.  Use the 6-12-6 Rule

We squander nearly one day a week “managing communication,” like emails and phone calls, according to a new Bain & Company study of CEOs. Kathryn McKinnon, time management expert at McKinnon & Company and author of Triple Your Time Today! 10 Proven Time Management Strategies to Create & Save More Time, is not surprised: “The issue is not whether we have enough time. The real issue is how we choose to spend the time we have.”

McKinnon’s solution to the rabbit hole of email correspondence? Block out set times to check on communication instead of going online all day long.

“Shut off your phone and close email to tune out distractions while you’re working on your priorities,” she says. McKinnon recommends applying a 6-12-6 rule to email correspondence. “Check it only for 20 minutes at 6 am, 12 pm, and again at 6 pm. “Set yourself up for some easy wins by not living by your inbox.”

-Continued in next month’s blog