10 Tips for Creating a Personal Time-Management System

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Three people sitting at a table with computers and sound board1. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is extremely important

Every single person on the planet gets the same amount of hours in a day. Those who become really successful in life know what they are good at, what they are bad at, and what they need to do to get things done. Understanding the value of time is the most important thing in developing your personal time-management system.

2. You can’t be exceptional at everything

Chances are that you already know what abilities and skills come to you naturally and what tasks are easy for you. You may be a great negotiator or you may have a great analytical mind. Whatever you are good at, develop that.

I’ve always said that you can make money at about anything, so long as you’re truly good at it. If you think you should become a lawyer because you think they make good money, but you hate being a lawyer and are there for bad at it, you’re not going to be making great money. If people can make millions from playing video games, you too can find a way to turn your passions into profit.

3. You need to stay away from what drains your energy

Most people have up to a dozen strengths. A lot of other things are boring to them and drain their energy severely. The goal is not only to find what you are good at but also to figure out how you can stay away from things that don’t work for you.

If you find that you keep running into tasks that you dread, that aren’t even necessarily hard but that you have created a mental block around because you just don’t enjoy doing them, figure out a way to get rid of those tasks. It might mean delegating it away or hiring a part-time position to help fulfill those tasks. If giving them away isn’t an option, make sure you plan to do them during the times when you’re most motivated, so that they don’t feel as daunting.

4. Goals will give you direction

When you have a specific and measurable goal in mind, keeping your focus on a project becomes much easier. Use goals as an inspiration to take your time-management skills to the next level. You should have a mix of easy goals that can be accomplished in a matter of days, short-term goals that can be accomplished in a matter of months, and long-term goals to work towards for years.

5. Know what your time is worth

Most people know what their time is worth when it comes to making dollars per hour at work, but they don’t stretch the concept far enough. If you can make a lot of money by spending an extra hour applying your analytical skills, don’t waste the hour on cleaning your home. Instead, hire someone to help you. I don’t enjoy housework, so if I’m able to work instead and hire someone else for housework, I’m a super happy camper.

This may be a more extreme example, but I believe everyone has time-suck activities that they don’t enjoy, but feel like they have to do. Hire a neighbor’s child to mow the lawn. The few dollars you pay them are probably less than what your time is worth. Do you really want to spend a weekend cleaning gutters and raking leaves? Or are you better off using that time to relax with your family and letting someone else pick up the yard work?

6. Figuring out your biological rhythms will help you get in the zone

Athletes often talk about “the zone” as a state in which getting positive results is easy. The zone is not a magical place. Every person has it. Zone largely depends on factors such as sleep, nutrition, and surroundings. Think about how some people are night owls and some are morning birds. There’s nothing wrong with being a night owl, you’re just going to be ready to do some of your most productive stuff much later than your early-bird counterparts.

7. Following a system is easier than creating a new one from scratch every day

Effective time management needs not only good intentions but also a certain framework that includes knowledge, skills, planning, and technology. Sticking to a system is not a guarantee of success in its own right, but by regularly tracking your days you will be able to become more aware of how they pass by and to plan them better. If you notice that you’re more awake and ready to face hard tasks in the morning, then each day plan to do the hardest things first and save the easier tasks for later in the day when you’re starting to feel burned out.

8. Plan out your day ahead of time

One tip that helps me, is to make a plan of what I want to accomplish each night before I fall asleep. This way I wake up with a clear idea of what I want to accomplish each day. Some people prefer to create a weekly, ongoing calendar so that they can visually see what should be happening at all times of day.

9. Surroundings matter

The way you create order around you can save you a lot of time and energy and prioritize important things, goals, and to-dos over little distractions that can eat a lot of your time if you allow them to do so. Surroundings matter not just when it comes to physical things. It is important to have your computer files, documents, and contacts sorted for quick access, convenience, and speed, too.

10. You can use technology to your advantage

There are many, many apps and devices this day that are created to automate time-sucking tasks and free up more time for you to do the really important stuff. Make sure you’re using them. Whether it’s helping you make a shopping list, post to social media, maintain a schedule, or whatever, taking advantage of these tools can only help.

Did we miss your favorite time management tip? Let us know in the comments below!

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