3 Instant Practical Time Management Tips

Practical time management tips are all over the web and there are some powerful techniques out there. Many of them I have recommended to my clients over the years and still continue to do so. Below this article I will point you in the direction of some of my favourites, but first, here are 3 instant practical time management tips that may help you today!

I guess when someone is looking for help with managing their time, they are sometimes looking for a long-term strategy. But on the other hand they may be firefighting a situation that is occurring right now. If that’s the case you need to read a practical time management article that gives you some immediate insights. So here we go:

1. Differentiate between a task and a project

Sometimes, when you have something you need to get done, you write it down on your list and then when you come to do it, you realise it just isn’t that simple:

e.g. Sell my mobile phone

It sounds like a simple one, and maybe it is if you are just going to pop into a high street shop and hand it over for a payment. If you want to do it online, and want to get a decent amount of money for it though, this is not a task – it is a project.

Projects go on project lists. Tasks go on task list. When you have a project like the above, you need to break it down into tasks first. Each task is something you will be able to do in one sitting. So your new list may look like this:

  1. Research companies
  2. Compare offers
  3. Submit request to sell
  4. Package phone
  5. Post phone

The first two on the list could be rolled into one task if you plan to do them in one sitting. So could the 3rd. The fourth task is probably not going to happen if the company needs to send you it’s own packaging, but it could combine with 5 if you pack and post in one go.

So this project has at least 2 separate tasks and could have as many as 5.

It’s a matter of knowing what you are getting yourself into and breaking things down logically.

2. What is the most important thing?

It is worth giving yourself time to look over your projects (and maybe your tasks) carefully. Ideally create a list. If you are an advocate of the ‘Getting Things Done’ (see below) method then this could take some time, but you could just keep it simple and list the things that are uppermost in your mind.

When you have done that, ask yourself, ‘What is the most IMPORTANT thing to me now?’

It is surprising how easily we forget to ask that question, and how much difference it makes if we know the answer.

Do the most important thing first! No wading through emails, don’t sit reading blogs on time management, avoid pointless meetings. Go straight to the job that will make the biggest difference and do it, or at least the first task.

3. Have a list of three things.

This is straight out of Leo Babauta ‘The Power of Less’. Your task list should just be three items long. These are the most important tasks – MITs as he calls them. They are the things that if you have them done by the end of the day, you will have succeeded. Everything else is a bonus.

These MITs should be achievable in the time you have available, and as above, you do them first. They could be the first three tasks on your priority project. Or one could be a part of the project and the others could be completely different tasks.

I have deliberately made this a very short article, and the whole point is to help you in this moment, to get some handle on your practical time management. Having said that, reading some great books will make a huge difference. In fact, reading ONE great book will be the best help, because if you read too many, the systems will conflict and you’ll get bogged down.

So below are three of my favourite Time Management books (there are affiliate links, so I may derive some income from your purchase).

Robert Sanders is a therapist and life coach, supporting people in their present and helping them create their future.