Every day we're alive, we're one day closer to our death. I don't mean to alarm you or cause you to panic, but as I'm sure you're already aware, we all have a finite amount of time to do what we need to do with our lives. It's all too easy to let days, months, even years fly by without ever really getting a handle on how to "manage time".
Of course, we can't really manage time. We can't slow it down. We can't change it. All we can really manage is ourselves and how we move through time. If you're content passing through life being a passive observer of the things and events that happen in your life, you probably don't need to worry about "managing time". But if you have goals above and beyond just getting a job, paying bills and surviving, learning to manage your time and yourself more effectively can make a really big difference in how effective you are in your pursuits.
Here are a few methods I've implemented over the last few years that have helped me move forward.
1) Define Your Goals - If you're going to get to where you want to be, you need to know where you want to go. This step is critical. The better you can define your long term goals, the easier it will be to break down your goals into more manageable, bite size action steps. Most big goals have a subset of smaller goals and steps that you need to take in order to accomplish your ultimate goal.
It's important to define as precisely as possible what you're trying to accomplish and then break that goal down into smaller steps you can act on, every day. What can you do today and this week that will move you towards your goals? There is almost always something you can do to move in the direction of your goals, but you have to know what your goals are in order to get started.
2) Organize And Track Your Time - Something I've started doing recently that has helped me become much more productive and efficient, is tracking how I spend my time on a daily basis. It's so easy to get sidetracked and de-railed in life and end up spending way too much time on things that aren't really a priority. Sometimes this is just a result of habit. Sometimes it's a lack of awareness. Either way, if you track how you spend your time you'll gain a much clearer picture into why you're getting the results (or lack of results) in your life.
To a large extent, the life you lead is a result of how you choose to spend your time. Make sure that you're spending your time wisely and investing an adequate amount of time on things that you truly prioritize. Don't do this by default. Do this consciously and with intention and you'll get much better results.
3) Keep Tweaking! - Time management is an ongoing process. You will not master yourself and how you spend your time overnight. The things you want and the things you prioritize will change over time. The more aware you are of what you want and truly desire, the more you can modify how you're spending your time in a way that's aligned with your goals. In my experience, you'll never truly master this process, but with practice you'll gain a greater and greater sense of alignment and clarity and you'll know intuitively when you're on the right track.