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Take control of your life by spending less time thinking

TIME MANAGEMENT may seem as simple as planning ahead for maximum results and personal efficiency every day. Generally speaking, everybody has their own basic system of time management running in the back of their minds at all times. Making sure it’s running effectively, however, is something that a great many people struggle to get right – or worse still, give up completely and decide instead to ‘wing it’.

The good news is that personal time management doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are three tips on how to manage your time more effectively in five minutes or less:

Concentrate on doing, instead of planning

Two of the most common issues that crop up when it comes to time management are poor planning techniques and procrastination, which means you either spend too much time ‘doing’ time management, or just thinking about it and not actually doing anything to make your life less chaotic.

Most of the time, you’re not even aware that these sneaky forms of laziness are taking place, which naturally makes the situation worse. A regular example of this in personal time management. Often you will be updating your daily, weekly, or long-term goals, and at the end of the process you discover you’ve spent a lot more time planning than you really had to. In the beginning, this isn’t too much of a problem. After a while – and especially with longer, more complex projects – it inevitably adds up to a massively unnecessary time drain.

So what’s the solution? Firstly, and most importantly, you need to make a conscious decision to stress less about what needs to be planned, and focus more on what needs to be done. It’s a subtle shift in thinking about time management, but a powerful one. What this means is that you have to stop thinking that you need to map out each and every step of your activities in painstaking detail.

Keep things as simple and streamlined as possible, in order to actually get more planning and, therefore, more things done.

Secondly, you should start using a system that encourages you to focus attention on what is important, and tells you when it is important. There are many time management systems you can use, ranging from a simple to-do list to more sophisticated productivity software based on the 'Get Things Done' philosophy popularised by David Allen.

Use your time on the tasks, not on managing them

By using a proven task management system or productivity app, you are freed from a good deal of the usual time-consuming elements in the time management process, which allows you to spend your task-planning, and hence your time, much more efficiently.

For instance, most productivity apps are based on the principles of traditional project management strategies, and provide an easy way to control the order, priorities, and organisation of your to-do lists, translating into a bigger picture view of what needs to be done, according to what degree of urgency or importance.

This bigger picture view, afforded by the ability to set tasks within projects in a nested, easily changeable format, is one of the best ways to manage your time as it is not only intuitive and effortless to use, but lets you plan your life smarter, further into the future, and faster.

Don’t wait for tomorrow

If you are serious about committing yourself to more effective time management, the first step is to get yourself set up with a task management system that takes the pain out of planning, prevents procrastination, and gives you the time to focus more on what you want to do – and more often.

There is a saying that goes: “Efficiency is doing things right – effectiveness is doing the right things.”

Truer words were never spoken. It took millions of years for man to invent something as simple as the wheel, so don’t waste any of yours trying to invent your own time machine. Set yourself up with a solid productivity app today – such as Todoist – and stress less tomorrow.

For more information on how to help declutter your life using online software, click here.

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