"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
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Thursday, August 23, 2012

6 Steps to Effective Time Management

Guest Post by: Anjali Amit

Science fiction is replete with time travel stories. Characters move backwards and forwards in time with consummate ease. “Beam me up Scotty” and falling through the wormhole are established techniques for traveling through time and space. But it is just that: science fiction. In the real world time is a one-way street. Every hour, minute, second that is gone is gone forever.

How often have you thought “If only I had more time”, or participated in water-cooler dreams of 36-hour days? Well, that may not happen in our lifetime, but these six simple steps will help you make the best of the time you do have.

1. Prioritize--Start your day by looking through the tasks on hands and prioritizing them. It may seem like a waste of the five or ten minutes you spend on this activity, but it brings an order to the day. Ask yourself what the most important tasks are. Then do not worry if things lower on the list have to be pushed off to the next day. The important tasks get done.

2. Know your most productive hours--Each person has a different rhythm. Some are morning people, others work best in the afternoon or evening. Know the time that is best for you, and slot your most creative endeavors for that period. Blogging, for example, is not just writing but also commenting on posts, reading other works, searching for markets--the list is long. Write when you are freshest and feel most creative. Use the other hours of the day for all the related tasks.

3. Focus--Once you know the things to be accomplished for the day focus on them, to the exclusion of all else. Remember the old saw: Once you have made a decision, murder the alternatives.

4. Do not postpone work--Do not defer things that are on your priority list. Time’s a-passing, whether you work or not. If you set aside important tasks for later you will reach the end of the day with an job half done and feel “I just did not have enough time.”

5. Set realistic schedules--The other end of the spectrum from “I wish I had more time” is to cram every minute of your working day with activities. That is the most direct road to work-day fatigue. Ink-in down time into every working day, and then create a schedule around it.

6. Be aware of the passage of time--Oftentimes you can get so involved in an activity that you are not aware of how much time has elapsed. However, you have a prioritized list of activities for the day, and would like to complete them. Set an alarm on your phone, start the stopwatch, or ask a coworker to come by with a reminder.

When the alarm goes off you may even reward yourself with a cup of coffee or a stroll in the fresh air.

Anjali Amit's first book, Folk Tales From Rajasthan, was published when she was in college. Upon graduation she "sold her soul to Mammon"—went to work for a bank. She reads to live, and is fascinated by the brave new world of blogging.

Image: Stock photo


  1. Jennifer Brown BanksAugust 25, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Anjali for this informative, helpful post. I'm sure readers will benefit from these timely tips.

  2. Thanks. In this "brave new world" we are all learners, some just starting out, others further down the road.

  3. Hi, Anjali. Number six really hit home with me. I sit down at the computer, start reading emails, play a few words with friends,visit a blog or two, look up and two hours have passed!And I haven't written a thing. Arggh! Gotta get on top of that. Great post.

  4. Susan,

    I can relate! Thanks so much for adding to the mix here. :-)

  5. Susan, so true. And at the end of the day we ask "Where has all the time gone?"

  6. My biggest challenges with time management are interruptions. Some can be ignored or prudently prevented, but others, like family emergencies or issues, are a bit trickier. Thanks for the encouraging tips!

  7. Karen,
    Indeed you're right. Family emergencies trump everything. It is the other interruptions (and often we create our own) that need to be reined in. Maybe the timekeeper can help!

    Thanks for your heartening words.

  8. Some time ago while working with my ToDo-List I felt disappointed about hardly having completed any task that I had on my list. Thinking that I hadn't done much.

    Only than I discovered that I actually did do a lot other highly productive things that only just somehow seemed to be much more important than the tasks on my list.

    So now I just use a Whiteboard with some Keywords about things that I find Important to achieve, and I also use a simple Diary that I usually carry around to jot down all kind of things like ideas, specific data, appointments etc. etc. (that's also the reason that I (pre) sell them on my - Home Business Lifestye - Blog)

  9. Jennifer Brown BanksAugust 28, 2012 at 8:58 AM


    I can relate. In fact, I had one of those days yesterday. Thanks for providing these useful, clever tips.

  10. Thank you for stopping by to read the article. Keeping a diary is such a great idea. It is handy for jotting your thoughts, observations, ideas on the fly. Thanks for suggesting it.

  11. These 6 steps can make a big difference in ones life. so many of us struggle with time management. Anjali has put it in simple, easy to follow steps. I will sure benefit from it.


  12. Thank you for reading. As we better learn to manage our time we find that we become more productive people.


  13. Anjali, thank you for these useful tips! I thought I was the only person who set an alarm to remember to move from activity to activity, since I sometimes get consumed in a task. It's nice to read that I am not. ;-)

    Tip #5 is the suggestion I struggle with. I'm learning to set more realistic goals. If I set too many daily goals, I get overwhelmed and discouraged when I'm not able to tick them all off of my "to do" list. That's where prioritizing comes in, which you cover in Tip #1. Great list!

    Jen, thanks for hosting Anjali.

    Blessings, ladies...


  14. Janette,

    Thank you for reading and commenting. Its passion that drives all work and goals, and passion is the royal road to success. Thanks for sharing your struggle, and all the best in all your endeavors.

  15. A way to get really focussed is to use an Egg Timer
    and set a specific time for a specific task.

    Only I wouldn't recommend it to use all the time because it really can get on your nerves :) It is however a way to get really time consiouss, and you can get really focussed with this technique.

    However I prefer to work with looking at a Have Done List, because it motivates me much more when I look at the things that I already actually have done, and it can also Inspire me and make me Enthousiastic to do more and make Improvements, while with a To Do List it frequently feels more like a trap, and as something that I don't alway's really enjoy doing.