1. Keep the main thing the main thing
“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing” (Steven R. Covey). Know your priorities and put them first. Sometimes it may seem that all the things you have to do are important, but in reality, if everything is a priority, then nothing really is. If you put the most important things first, you will get important things done and find time for everything else. If you let everything else take up your time, you may not have time or energy for the most important activities.
2. Manage your attention, it is our most precious resource that everyone is fighting for
Be proactive. Consciously decide what will you give your attention and focus to. The more consciously you act, the less you get distracted. Managing your attention helps you stay focused on a specific goal. If you can manage your attention, you can manage your time.
3. Plans may be useless, but planning is essential
We can make plans, but life can have other plans. Circumstances may always change, and you have to be flexible, but if we didn’t plan anything and lived only reactively, it would be very difficult to achieve our goals. Planning helps us act more consciously. If you don’t plan your time, others will do it.
4. Every day is different
Productivity can vary from day to day. If you have 50% energy, but you give all that 50% of yourself, you actually gave 100% of yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Different things can also be important every day. Some days it’s important to just relax and do nothing, and that might be the most productive thing you can do that day.
5. Charge your batteries on time
One important part of time management is energy management. If we don’t have energy, we can’t do anything. Charge your batteries when you feel you are getting tired, not when you are at the last limit. The charging time is much shorter if you charge your batteries more often. We constantly monitor our phones if we have enough battery, and always carry chargers with us. You should also monitor your own energy level. It is best if you also have a note on your calendar or set a reminder to charge your batteries.
6. Get comfortable with discomfort
“Time management is pain management” (Nir Eyal). We procrastinate on things that are uncomfortable. Our brain prefers comfort and doing things the way they’ve always been done. To cope with discomfort when doing difficult things, the daily simple practice of coping with discomfort is helpful. Try to do something different than usual every day. For example, brush your teeth with the other hand or walk home using a different road than usual. In this way, the brain gets used to dealing with discomfort, so that it is not something bad. If a difficult situation comes up where you would like to postpone things, it will be easier for you to deal with it.
7. Done is better than perfect
Perfectionism can also be an obstacle to good time management. If we strive for perfection in everything, activities take a long time and some things may not be done because we think that it is still not good enough. If you are a perfectionist, don’t try to get rid of your desire to always give your best. But notice when it’s good enough. Also, decide which activities you spend more time on to meet the high standards you have set for yourself, and which ones you are willing to compromise on. Dare to ask a colleague for feedback on work topics to understand when the work done is already good enough.
8. The biggest enemy of time management is a bad mood
When you are in a bad mood, it is very difficult to motivate yourself to be productive. If you are in a bad mood, first deal with getting in a good mood, then you will get the energy to get other things done. Make a list of things that always help you cheer up and keep it close to get ideas to cheer you up at the right moment.
9. It’s all about habits
Time management requires instilling discipline and habits. Start with small habits and small steps. Often, we want to take too big steps, which turn out to be too big, and we get stuck. Even if we manage to do this step, we are very tired afterward and postpone doing the next steps. Start with activities that are very simple and take little time, and then start building muscle. Habits help us in situations when motivation is difficult to find, in these situations we do simple things that have become a habit for us.
10. Accept that you can’t do everything
There are always more good ideas than we can do. There are always more things we “need” to do than we can do. If you don’t believe this principle and think you’re superhuman, sooner or later you’ll burn out. However, if you accept that you don’t have to do everything and focus on what’s important, it will keep you from burning out.