What are the best time management techniques?

Time Management and Avoiding Procrastination

If you were a computer, someone could just program you with tasks, and you'd perform them one by one until they were all completed. As a human, however, you may drift off course -- sometimes a lot. And while most people have procrastinated at one time or another -- and likely will do so again -- keeping it from becoming a chronic problem can help greatly in time management and accomplishing the goal of having a more productive and relaxed life.

Procrastination is a common phenomenon, but not necessarily well understood. Although it's often chalked up to laziness, there are actually a number of motivations behind procrastination. Understanding what causes you to put off tasks may help you regain control over your time. Here are some possibilities:

  • Perfectionism and fear of failure: If you're a perfectionist, your fear of doing a bad job or not living up to your expectations can cause you to avoid beginning a project in the first place [source: WebMD]. It may help to realize that a project not completed is more of a failure than one completed imperfectly.
  • Depression: If you are experiencing depression, you may find your daily tasks insignificant or unimportant [source: Psychology Today]. This can cause you to ignore or not care about what is at hand. If you are simply having a trying day, take a little time out of your schedule to deal with what's bothering you, and then get back to work. However, if you're experiencing constant depression, you may have a problem that goes beyond time management. In that case, see a medical professional for help.
  • Feeling Overwhelmed: If you feel you have too much on your plate, you may be unable to focus on any one task and end up completing none of them. While perfectionism and depression are psychological obstacles, feeling overwhelmed is often caused by poor time management and may be corrected by properly prioritizing your schedule and learning how to deal with distractions.

Other ways to help overcome procrastination include tackling larger tasks by breaking them up into smaller chunks and working on them for short periods at a time. Rewarding yourself somehow once a project is completed can also provide some motivation. Additionally, you could ask someone else to check up on you and make sure you're focusing on the task at hand. Honestly identifying the consequences of not completing the task may help to motivate you as well.

To learn more about effective time management, see the next page for lots more information.

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