If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I'm sure that some of you would answer super-strength, you could fly, or maybe even invisibility. But if you're like most of us, realistically, I think we would all enjoy the ability to master time.
Thankfully, you don't have to be a member of The Avengers or Justice League to master time. You just need to follow these 10 incredible time-management tips:
1. Carry a schedule
I know. It sounds old school, huh? The first step you should take is to invest in a notepad and take it with you every day for a week.
During this time write down your thoughts, conversations, and activities. This will help you see how productive -- or unproductive -- you really are. This simple exercise will show you where a majority of your time is being spent.
Even with your handy notebook, you should also use a time-tracking tool like I created when you work. In this way you will notice how long it's taking you to complete tasks. This will allow you to assess how you are spending your workday and can help you make the necessary changes to become more productive.
2. Prioritize your efforts
After you've discovered how you spend your time, the next step you will want to master is to learn the difference between what's important and what can wait. Successful individuals create to-do-lists that contain only 3 or 5 of their most important tasks before they go to bed. In the morning they start tackling the most important, and hardest, task first. Once that task is completed, they cross it off and move on to the next item.
For instance, if your website or app is buggy, then fixing that code is more important than writing your daily post. After all, what's the point of publishing a blog post if no one can read it because your site isn't working properly?
Keep in mind, if you don't cross-off all of your items, then transfer them to your list for tomorrow. You'll feel better knowing at least your most important task was done today.
3. Don't be afraid to say "No"
One of the hardest tricks that I had to learn was saying the word "no." Early in my career I didn't want to disappoint my colleagues, clients, or family. So I said yes to everything. This ended-up raising my stress level and shortchanging everyone else -- including myself -- because I couldn't give anyone 100 percent of my time nor could I pay close attention.
But, it's okay for you to say, "no." Give yourself permission to do this.
If you don't have the time or desire to do whatever is being asked of you, say, "no." Even if you want to bake those cookies for your kid's fundraiser or take-on a new freelancing gig, sometimes you just have to politely decline until you do have the extra time. The other party may be disappointed, but it's not the end of the world.
4. Cut out distractions
We're surrounded by distractions. Whether it's emails, phone calls, text messages, social media notifications, or people entering and leaving your workspace, those distractions end-up eating a good portion of your time.
There ways to temporarily block those distractions. Put your phone on airplane mode. Download website blocking apps. Turn-off notifications. Put a, "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door. If you are worried about missing an important message, then schedule certain times throughout the day to check and respond to those messages.
5. Simplify your environment
Studies have found that the average worker wastes about 38 hours a year searching for misplaced items. In fact, 66 percent of office workers have stated that they spend a minimum of 30 minutes of time during a typical work week looking for those misplace items. As a result, clutter doesn't just waste your time, it also decreases your productivity and increases the amount of stress in your life.
When you're organized, you're able to think more clearly and improve your productivity, as well as gain back some of that time you've been wasting.
This may seem like a daunting task, but once you get started, it's really not all that bad. Start by giving everything a home and making sure that when you use that stapler you put it back where it belongs.
Also set aside a couple of minutes each week to get rid of the stuff that you no longer need. Ditch those filing cabinets and transfer all of those papers in to the cloud. This not only keeps you organized, it's also better for the environment.
You can't do everything on your own. I know you feel like that's the case, but you can't be afraid to ask others for help. You have to learn to give-up some control.
Sometimes, helps to make a plan to ask before you are in trouble. Outsource certain tasks, such as your accounting and bookkeeping tasks.
Ask a friend or family member to hang-out with your kids when you're swamped. Ask your spouse to clean-up the dishes after dinner.
You'll be shocked at much more time you'll have, and how much more you'll get accomplished, once you learn how to delegate.
7. Maximize your most productive hours
If you're more of a morning person, then rearrange your schedule so that you're working on your most challenging tasks in the a.m. If you're a night owl, then work on those tasks at night, when you are the most productive. The point is that when you work when you're most productive you're able to effectively manage your time.
8. Remember the 80/20 rule of time management
Preston Ni, M.S.B.A. writes in Psychology Today that this rule "tells us that 80 percent of the importance of what we do in any given day lies in only twenty percent of the activities. Therefore, if you focus on accomplishing the top twenty percent of the most important tasks, you will feel more productive and satisfied at the end of the day."
9. Done is better than perfect
"The ultimate time suck is perfection," says Damon Brown, author of "The Bite-Sized Entrepreneur." Brown adds, "Spending too much time perfecting a product or service can not only hurt your business, but it can create opportunity cost for the other great, new things you could be working on."
In the words of time master Laura Vanderkam, "Let it go. Done is better than perfect." Remember. Nothing will ever be perfect. Do your best and move-on.
10. Use small gaps of time
There are moments throughout the day that just go to waste. During these periods you may be able to complete small tasks that only take a couple of minutes to complete. For example, if you take the subway into work every morning you probably have the time to respond to emails or read the morning paper. If you have an hour for lunch, then squeeze in a quick workout before you eat.
Make a list of jobs that only take 10 to 15 minutes, and carry it around with you. If you are prepared with a list, when the 10 minutes of extra waiting time appears -- you can quickly jump to a short task on your list.
Look for these spare moments of time where you can be productive instead of letting that time go to waste. Make your goals measurable and see where your productivity goals take you.