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Even though he’s famous for defining it vis à vis space, Einstein still had issues with time.

But while he and other bright minds grapple with the concept of time, the rest of us are left to discover how to make the most of that portion that’s allocated to us.

One hard concept we do know about it is this:

Once the moment is gone, it’s gone forever.

Even for someone in his 20s, that’s a harsh fact.

It’s why one of the principles of the Dot Com lifestyle asserts that your real currency is time. Money just allows you to reclaim more of it to spend as you desire.

With that in mind, here are 25 tips and tricks to manage your allocation wisely. Some of them will directly save time. Others will improve the quality of your work, leading to time being refunded to you in the long run.

And while not all of this list may be relevant to those who are already successful in the Dot Com lifestyle, they serve as further motivation to attain it. Not having to take them into account means you’re already saving time!

25. Leave Early

No better way to start simple than to just leave early wherever you go: school, work, or breakfast. While traffic is a main obstacle to overcome here, you’re also compensating for any other unexpected event. With this simple tip, not only will you arrive at work on time, you’re also avoiding that rushed feeling and anxiety. Leaving early allows you to exterminate that ferocious road rage, and it gives you time to collect your thoughts before your day.

24. Make use of spare time

So, if you leave early, guess what? You’ve already received your first refund of time! This is the perfect opportunity to make use of it. Your early arrival probably hasn’t saved enough to get huge assignments or projects accomplished, but it may be enough to get the little things out of the way. The same goes for waiting in a long line. Bring a book wherever you go; make phone calls; check emails; study flashcards. Caveat: this is not the opportunity to sit in your car playing video games on your phone.

23. Look at your watch

What do watches have that most current phones don’t? No wasteful, time-consuming apps! Look at your watch to keep track of time (unbelievable, right?). The purpose here is to keep a small mental tab on your progress. If you haven’t gotten anything done after one hour, it’s time to move on. Even better, get a watch with a timer or stopwatch feature. This may be tacky, but if you’re truly stringent about saving time, visualizing those seconds flying by will motivate you to stay focused.

22. Keep a time journal

What better way to keep track of something than to write it down? If you want to save your time down to the second, it’s not good to rely on your mental power. It’ll be too overwhelming. Also, when you write things down, it tends to stick better with the person. The more you record how long it takes do something, the better you can estimate how to portion your day. Hopefully, the statement, “Yes, I did work on this project for four hours” won’t mean “Yes, I started the project four hours ago, but I also browsed the internet, walked to the vending machine, ran into a friend that I haven’t seen in a while, and chatted an hour away.”

21. Figure out your optimal work flow

Learn to recognize when you’re most productive and focused. Do you feel energized or motivated to the point where you don’t want to take a break or when you don’t feel fatigued? Is there a point in the day where you are not distracted? Finally, are you an early bird or a night owl? Physiologically and mentally, do you work better at night? Or in the morning? Or some time in between? There are benefits to each, but finding out your optimal work flow is something you have to assess yourself.

20. Create habits

Now, that you know your optimal work flow, your next goal is to replicate this practice each day. The answer: habit. Without getting into too much detail, the basal ganglia governs that part of the brain where habits take place as well as having some connection in choosing what routines reap the most reward. In short, we spend less effort thinking when performing a habit. If you come up with a habit that incorporates your optimal work flow, you may find that motivation will come naturally. For example, let’s say you’re an early bird. An ideal habit would be to wake up, brush your teeth, fix your bed, eat breakfast, and then immediately get into your productive mode.

19. Start work early

This is self explanatory. If there’s something you have to do, go ahead and do it. Do not put it off. If you’ve got a project on the docket, start planning that same day. Of course, you don’t have to finish it or even get far. However, even a little bit of planning can work wonders in the long-term. Starting your work early carries many benefits. It reduces anxiety caused by procrastination; it avoids those unexpected last-minute occurrences that always seem to happen when we least expect it; and, it provides a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day.

18. Make to-do lists

As previously mentioned, writing tasks down carries a lasting effect on our motivation. By having a list of things to do, we can automatically prioritize tasks at hand. Imagine having a short guideline as a reference instead of sporadically reminding yourself what you have to do. When finished, to-do lists can definitely provide a sense of accomplishment. As an added tip, start fresh. This means that you handle the stuff that takes more brainpower at the beginning of the day and end with the easy, mindless tasks.

17. Limit pointless online activity

What is the easiest way to turn one minute into one hour? Try: email, Facebook, Youtube, Reddit, and many, many more. Let’s face it. Staying focused isn’t easy when a multitude of new information is available at our fingertips. To avoid this, set aside specific times to check your favorite websites. For example, force yourself to check Facebook only four times a day: mid-morning, after lunch, mid-afternoon, and before bed. Spend no more than 10-15 minutes at a time. Alternately, there are numerous online programs that will force you to check these websites for only a specific amount of time. The Self Control app is just one fool-proof example along with a host of alternatives.

16. Work a little each day

The idea here is to avoid procrastination. in so doing, we avoid cramming. Make blocks for designated times each day (or weekday if you want weekends off). They don’t have to be large, either. You can apportion them to be 30-50 minutes long with spaced breaks in between each session. It’s whatever strategy works for you, as long as you’re progressing little by little each day.

15. Keep sleep consistent

Let’s be real. When was the last time you had seven hours of sleep? If you’re twitching over a cup of coffee, chances are you haven’t gotten much. Sleep is a natural way to rejuvenate your body. In fact, research shows that little sleep in the long run will hinder performance. If you really can’t afford at least seven hours, then consider this: do you sleep at the same time every day? That may actually be better than the amount of sleep you get. This contributes to maintaining your body’s internal clock and keeping your optimal workflow consistent.

14. Call in advance

This one’s obvious. All you have to do is call ahead if you have a list of errands that require travel. How many times have you gone to a store only to find they don’t have the product you want? Or, to find that it was closed? Or, how many times were you on your way to a meeting only to find that it was cancelled a few hours before? You may save yourself a few hours and a bit of gas if you call ahead of time. As a bonus, you’ll probably end up saving money. You’re less likely to buy something out of impulse to compensate for an entire car trip wasted.

13. Keep a planner and a calendar

This is a fundamental rule to time management. Planners are portable enough to keep track of dates, and virtually every smartphone has one. It’s more efficient to visually assess your weekly schedule. More importantly, it is best to enter an event immediately when you know of it. Don’t put it off. Check your planner every morning. These tools exemplify time management organization at its finest.

12. Break down large tasks into smaller ones

This makes projects look less daunting. Thus, they become more manageable every day. Begin planning a project on day one. Also, be very specific with your instructions. Instead of saying “I’ll study Chapters 3 and 4 tomorrow,” say “I’ll read Chapters 3 and 4; I’ll take notes; and I’ll do the study questions at the end of each chapter.”

11. Set long-term goals

Work without purpose is pointless. If you can’t see your accomplishments in the weeks, months, or even years from now, you won’t be committed enough to make deadlines. Use this mentality when learning new skills. Again, be specific! Break it down into a process with measurable results along the way. Let’s say you want to be proficient on guitar by the end of the year. If you don’t make any goals and decide to just practice for 12 months, it’s more than likely you’ll find yourself unsatisfied after one month, and you may quit. If so, you’ve just wasted one month of practice.

10. Over-estimate when dealing with people

Whenever you plan events with other people, such as a family gathering or romantic date, you cannot calculate time to the minute. Good quality human interaction is not precise. If you rush a social event, the quality of a personal relationship deteriorates. Would you want to hang out with someone who keeps looking at their watch, thinking of other things than the current conversation? Compensate by over-estimating the amount of time for the event.

9. Delegate responsibilities to others

Often, there are moments when we realize we can’t do something, even if our life depended on it. Fortunately, there is someone out there who will get the job done better and faster. You’ve got an oversized gator under your refrigerator? Don’t push all the work on yourself; call the gator boys! You get the idea. Take advantage of those around you, and get the job done. Effective communication is key, and your helpers will often expect something in return. Teamwork can effectively lighten the load of each individual while maximizing work output.

8. Do not multitask

Multitasking and productivity do not coalesce. Similar to a warm up, concentration requires a bit of time before you hit a point where you are ultimately focused. However, once you hear that annoying noise that comes with a new text message, your concentration is broken. You then have to rebuild that motivation from scratch. This is why you shouldn’t have your phone on you when you work. Lower the volume; turn it off; throw it into a fire; do anything you can to not be distracted. Likewise, stop looking at your phone when you have a face-to-face conversation. Nobody wants to have to repeat themselves when they talk.

7. Seek help

If you feel overwhelmed in school or work, seek help! Talk to your peers. Ask people who are going through the same struggle how they manage time. Don’t just stop there. Seek professional help, as well. At school, these may be your professors, program advisors, or campus counselors. At work, you can speak with your supervisor or other helpful hotline. Also, assess advice. If you tried something that worked 100% for someone else, but failed for you, keep asking questions. Drop the stuff that fails, but maintain the stuff that works.

6. Prioritize tasks

Maybe there are kids out there that did every sport in high school and made straight A’s. But when you ask them how they do it, they shrug their shoulders and say “I just practiced everyday.” Then, they reach college and find they aren’t doing even half as well. As you grow older, your available time declines drastically. Just because you work hard day in and day out, doesn’t mean you will achieve all your goals. You need a sense of direction that aligns with your long-term goals. Try ranking your top five goals within five years. If you’re failing Goal 1, reduce the effort spent on others and make time for Goal 1. Know your priorities; they always come first!

5. Implement periodized training

This idea is best applied to learning new skills. Much like exercise, you want to prioritize one task or goal a few weeks — or months — at a time. Think of it as periodized training. Say, you want to learn to play guitar and improve your Spanish. Each of these skills requires dexterity, something that can’t be acquired in small sessions a day. So instead of spending 45 minutes on each one every day, focus one month on Guitar sessions lasting about an hour and 15 minutes a day and just 15 minutes of learning Spanish. When that one month is up — or when you feel you’ve hit a plateau with guitar — switch to focusing on Spanish. With this training schedule, you’re at least at an intermediate level with a few skills instead of a beginner at both.

4. Avoid perfection

It’s never possible to fix every little detail of your life. In fact, successful individuals are the ones who plan ahead for mistakes. Having this mindset will allow you to accomplish your goals faster, and it saves time in the long run. To better illustrate this example, say you have to write a twenty-page report on the Battle at Kruger. There’s absolutely no deadline, but you’re not allowed to graduate until you submit it. Will you spend an entire week revising the structure of the paragraphs, deciding what words best illustrate the event, and arguing about what evidence best shows which side won? Or, will you spend sufficient time to produce paper that summarizes the main points and will finally get you back to your actual life? The choice is yours.

3. Reward yourself

Good work habits require a satisfying reward to avoid burnout. The more you withhold a fun break, the more miserable and monotonous your work becomes. In order to stay motivated, try scheduling one awesome event at the end of your work day. Playing music or doing yoga are a few examples. (Drinking could also be an option if you have an invincible liver). Now, when you’ve started your work, have the mindset that you will get as much as you can done before you go to that reward. Make your tasks realistic and manageable. If you don’t finish, then you don’t earn that reward, meaning you try again the next day. Alternately, you can plan to have one entire free day on the weekend by pushing through your work on the weekdays. Just have something to look forward to.

2. Review your progress once a week

You can follow all the tips and tricks, but if you’re not frequently assessing the areas for improvement, you’re not maximizing your time. For example, take one day out of the week to look over your time tracking. Pick out three things that you can wholeheartedly improve for next week. Maybe, there was one specific website you wasted a few hours on. Maybe, you got sucked into a marathon of a popular TV series. Maybe, you didn’t get enough sleep one day. Now, make certain you don’t repeat those mistakes again. This is why you should limit yourself to three improvements. You don’t want to feel overwhelmed. You’re more likely to reverse a few mistakes gradually than to reverse a bunch all at once.

1. Know Your Limits

Sometimes, you have to get back to the basics. In other words, never bite off more than you can chew. While this mentality is beneficial to motivation and commitment, there’s always some sort of limit to how much you can handle. Unfortunately, there’s no universal measure, and this is something you have to evaluate yourself. If you have incorporated many of these tips, however, finding your personal threshold shouldn’t be a daunting task. More importantly, remember to finish your priorities first and to delegate tasks to others if necessary.

 

Inspired by: http://list25.com/25-tips-and-tricks-to-manage-your-time/

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