Maximising your time is about properly prioritising things and doing what is really important to you. So how do you ensure that you focus on what’s important and have the time to do them?

1. Work out where your time goes

Spending some time working out how you typically spend your time may seem counterproductive but will actually have long-term benefit. Once you have identified those points in the day where time is clearly being wasted then this will assist you in setting priorities. What is important is to dedicate the bulk of your time on the tasks that are important to you.

2. Set targets

You may well go through the process of freeing up time by being efficient but then not know what to do with it. Establish what is important to you and set goals. By having a firm idea of your targets will help you know where to put in all your efforts. Having targets can help motivate you in order to reach that end goal.

3. Compile a list to tick

Free your mind by making a list of all the things that you need to do, that way you can look at it and tick stuff off as you go. A list on a scrap of paper, on you mobile phone, or in a notebook will all serve their purpose. As you cross off things you’ve done this may encourage you to crack on and complete the remainder.

4. Get your priorities right

The key to a good list is prioritising things correctly.  Avoid the temptation to do the easy stuff first, rather than the tasks that actually are the priorities. It’s likely that if you take this approach then the things that maybe don’t get completed that day possibly didn’t need doing, or at least can be seen to on another day.

5. Nail it first time

Focus doing a task so that you do it correctly so you don’t have to waste time going back to do it all over again or complete the job you started earlier. Do a job when you are in the mood for it, rather than trying to squeeze it in your day when you are tired or hungry as you’ll only end up doing half a job. Doing the priority tasks first when you are most alert increases the chances of you nailing the task first time.

6. Don’t procrastinate

Faffing about and putting things off in order to do something less import is a common trait for many of us. To avoid this, try to distance yourself for all those potential distractions that could put you off the tasks you should be doing. Often the best thing to do first is the very thing you are least looking forward to doing as you’ll at least get it out of the way.

7. Be organised

Organisation is key as without it you’ll only be unnecessarily wasting time. How much time do you spend looking for something because you are disorganised. Declutter your home and working environment and give everything a permanent place where you know you’ll be able to find it. Get rid of the things that you just don’t use or need.

8. Delegate more

You don’t have to do everything yourself! Free up some time for yourself by enlisting others to do the tasks for you. We’re not talking about handing over responsibility for everything, but by passing over tasks that someone else can do, particularly if they can do them quicker and better than you, makes sense. Apply this both at work and at home. You could do a trade off with the kids by getting them to do jobs in return for something such as a lift that they might need off you later.

9. Multi-task

Doing more than one thing at the same time doesn’t have to be arduous if you choose wisely. By combining tasks well you can make the most of your available time. This might include something as simple as combining  a run while listening to that audio book you’ve always wanted to hear, or it might involve reading a good book or catching up with work on your commute rather than staring blankly out of the window or at other commuters!

10. Say ‘no’ more frequently

This is related in some way to the point we made earlier about delegating tasks more. By saying ‘no’ more frequently will help you avoid overload and potential burnout and you won’t be dumped with additional tasks to look to delegate. We are not suggesting you should become obstinate and refuse to do anything, but instead critically look at whether the task is actually your responsibility or if there is someone who can do it much better than you.

11. Avoid distractions

Staying focused on your tasks is a large part of the battle. To do this you need to avoid those things that could distract you unnecessarily. If you have something that you really need to get completed then consider isolating yourself, switching off your phone and other potential distractions and get on with it. You’ll can easily check in on any messages or missed calls once you have made good progress or completed the task!

12. Take time out

It might sound strange to address the issue of maximising your time by telling you to take time out, but bear with us. Clearly you can’t be on the go all the time and if you were you’d very soon burnout! By taking time out will mean that you are refreshed and fully charged both mentally and physically when you come to tackle what you need to be doing and you’ll be able to do it more efficiently. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is key to being able to function effectively.