1. Learn How to and When To Say "NO"
Saying "no" when we are used to saying "yes" to everything is uncomfortable at first, but it gets easier the more we do it. When asked if you can do something, practice saying "Let me take a look at my schedule and see if that is something I have time for." When we are assigned more than we know we can handle, find out the new assignment is a priority. Your boss may decide to delegate the assignment to someone else once it is clear that you already have enough on your plate. Impulsive responses get people into a lot of trouble, so pause, take a breath, and ask for time to consider the request.
2. Use the two-minute rule: If the task takes two minuter or less to complete, stop and do it now.
Telling ourselves that we will do it later is a fib we often believe. All those things we say we will do later, which don't get done, take up too much "bandwidth" in our brains. Doing a simple task right away like capturing and labeling a new contact on our phone, saves a lot of time later when we have forgotten.
3. Limit and set clear boundaries for checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, and newsfeeds.
Restricting social media to a lunchtime activity or the commute home from work is a good rule of thumb, assuming you are not driving. To avoid being inadvertently distracted, move any app with a notification icon off your home screen. Be brutal and unsubscribe to emails, newsletters, and organizations that are not necessary and that wind up wasting your time.
4. Check your calendar and "to do list" morning, noon, and night.
Keep your planning simple. Ask yourself what you want to get done by lunch. After lunch, re-assess and decide what you want to accomplish before you finish work for the day. When you get home, decide what you want to do for the evening. Simple is best and less is more are good rules to apply to time management and organization.
5. Double the time you think it will take to complete an organizational project.
Many of us are poor at estimating how long things will take and almost all of us are poor at estimating the time needed for organizational projects. this is because organizing requires a lot of decision-making, and most of us complicate simple questions such as "Keep or toss it?" Having to stop in the middle of an organization project because we ran out of time is not a pretty sight, as most of what we are organizing is scattered all over the place. Make sure you have plenty of time to finish what you have started by doubling your estimate for completion.
6. Use a timer to stop what you are working on.
If hyperfocus or losing track of time leads to missed appointments or arriving late, use a timer to stop what you are working on.
7. Establish a morning and an evening routine, and stick to them.
When those two routines are consistent, other routines can be built around them. Deciding what not to do each morning and night is as important as deciding what the routine will consist of. Getting a good night's sleep and starting the day on time are necessary and healthy steps for better time management. Be patient and persistent on establishing consistency with getting up and going to bed on time.
8. Learn how and when to delegate.
Do not fall into the trap of "If I want it done right, I'll have to do it myself," or "I need to do it because it will take me longer to show someone else how to do it." We have all heard these expressions, either spoken by ourselves or others. Be patient and take the time to mentor others. It can save you a lot of time in the long run. Don't just delegate down; delegate up by asking for help when you need it. If you are assigned something at work that you have never done before, time can be wasted trying to figure out how to proceed. Ask for more detailed instructions when to find pertinent information about the task, or an example you can use as a template. "Could you please walk me through the process?" is an appropriate question to ask.
9. Beware of multitasking, which can save time only if the tasks are simple and familiar.
If the tasks are complex and unfamiliar, it is more time-efficient to do them one at a time. Helping your child with addition problems while cooking dinner you have made a hundred times is fine, but if you are trying out a new recipe and helping your teenager with calculus, chances are, you will burn dinner and your teen won't do well on the concept or quiz.
10. If you are in the middle of something, do not allow interruptions.
Politely say, "Just a moment. I'm right in the middle of something," and continue with what you are doing until you are at a good stopping point and can re-direct your focus. Sometimes a hand signal works well. Constant interruptions ruin our efficiency, so even if you have an open-door policy, do not hesitate to put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door when you have a project that requires your sustained attention. It is difficult for us to minimize our internal distractions, so any boundaries we can set up to minimize external distractions helps us to become more time-efficient.