Mastering your time management skills will boost your productivity and personal effectiveness, which in turn will enhance your life.

Time is money – the old adage that every cliché businessman has been using since time immemorial – bears more than a nugget of truth. After all, at work we’re paid for the hours we devote to any task.

When we buy goods or pay for services, we’re technically not paying with money at all, but with time. After all, what is money by a representation of the worth of your time?

Time is, therefore, something that shouldn’t be bandied about carelessly, but is something to be considered and carefully planned. However, time management isn’t something that everyone excels at.

It’s a skill that no one is born with, but one that can be learned through discipline and regimen. Below we’ll look at four time management skills that will boost your career development and enhance your life.

1. Be Aware of Time

While this might seem the most obvious step to improving productivity it’s one that’s often overlooked. Mastering your time management skills starts with knowing how much time you have, and for that, you need a watch. But a smartphone tells the time, I hear you say.

This is true, but with a smartphone comes dozens of other distractions. You’re going to want a watch whose primary function is telling time, to keep you focused on the task at hand. Being aware of time is a small action but has a profound effect in the long run.

2. Plan Ahead

In your day to day life, tasks and meetings are bound to overlap with each other. Since you can’t be two places at once, it’s essential that you plan in advance to avoid such tasks clashing. Careful planning will also allow you to really see how much time you can allocate to a certain task as well as how much you can get done in a single day.

Calendars, diaries, and lists are good tools for parceling out your day into manageable chunks of time to help increase productivity and keep you on track during your day-to-day appointments.

3. Block out Distractions

In a world where many of us work on the internet, ads are served directly onto the screens we look at and tantalizing social media sites are only a click away. Blocking out such distractions is key to mastering your time management skills and increasing productivity.

There are certain mobile apps that allow you to block distractions for certain periods of time and leave you free to focus so you can apply yourself to work and other deadlines. It blocks websites, applications, and notifications to ensure that nothing will slip through and divert your attention from the task at hand.

4. Don’t Multitask Excessively

As attractive as it sounds to do several tasks at once, excessive multitasking will only slow you down and hinder the effectiveness with which you approach individual tasks. When you divide your time between tasks you’re also dividing your effort and attention.

Instead of trying to do multiple things at once, give each individual task your full attention. This will allow you to finish the task faster, but also more efficient. Keep a notebook on hand so that if you do get the urge to pursue a different task, jot it down so that you can remember to do it later.

5. Set Up Strict Deadlines and Stick to Them

This tangentially relates to planning ahead – when delegating tasks set realistic deadlines you know that you can stick to. This will ensure you have a goal to work towards and will motivate you to complete the task on time. It’s important that the deadline you set isn’t vastly out of your feasibility zone.

For example, if the deadline is set way too far in the future, you’ll end up slacking and procrastinating, and ultimately expanding your workload to fit the available time (for more on this, see this article to Parkinson’s Law).

However, if the deadline is too short, you’ll end up rushing to complete your task and the quality of your work may suffer.

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