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13 Things You Should Know About Time Management

Learning time management skills takes, well, time. Here’s how best to tackle it in thirteen practical (and fast!) steps.

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Photo: Thinkstock

Time-Tracking Apps Are Your Best Friend

Productivity apps like RescueTime run on your computer and analyze how much time you’re spending on websites (read: the minutes you’re burning on Facebook and BuzzFeed). RescueTime generates a daily report to show how your accomplishments compare to previous days and can block distracting websites to save you from yourself.

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Back-to-Back Meetings Can Be Helpful

Group meetings together to allow for longer stretches of work time before and after. You’ll avoid wasting an afternoon broken into bits of time too short to be useful.

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Work Less

Kennedy says long hours can actually derail productivity. If you’re not allowing yourself enough “me time,” you’re likely not doing your best work. Pencil a bit of non-work into your schedule and you’ll find yourself less inclined to fritter away work time.

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Turn Off Your Notifications

Lois Kennedy, productivity expert at Toronto’s 3 Step Results Inc., advises setting aside a couple of times each day for email and social media accounts, to minimize distraction.

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Break Large Projects up Into Smaller Chunks

Set incremental deadlines for long-term tasks, especially gruelling ones. It’s easier to start a project when you see it as a series of smaller ones rather than one never-ending assignment.

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Make Every Minute Count

If there’s a flight or waiting room in your future, use that time to catch up on email or read status reports.

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Break up Your Day

Divide your time into periods of focused work, such as research, and engaged work like replying to emails. Toronto productivity consultant Clare Kumar recommends allotting 60 to 90 minutes for focused blocks and roughly 30 minutes for engaged periods.

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Set Boundaries to Help You Focus

If you work in an office, let your colleagues know you’re not up for chatting by putting on headphones or closing your office door if you have one.

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Jot it Down

Get started in the morning by preparing your to-do list the night before. Write down three or four things you’d like to accomplish the next day before bed, and make those the first items you check off.

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Take a Breather

Reward sprints of work with short breaks. Think of your brain as a muscle that needs some light stretching, and accept that you can’t run a marathon every day.

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Visualize Your Time

Colour-code your calendar, giving each type of item-work, fitness or time with family and friends-a different colour in your planner, Kumar says. You’ll get a quick view of how you’re using your time and where you can do better.

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Stay Calm

Rushing through your to-do list can actually cost you extra time. As the old saying goes, haste makes waste. If you relax and think things through, your blood pressure and boss will thank you.

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Learn to Say No

We’re hard-wired to say yes, but part of time management is learning that every hour has value. If an opportunity arises that isn’t worth your while, turn it down.