** Please note this post is a copy from my previous blog and was originally posted in April 2014**
Time – is there ever enough of it? In today’s society especially it seems like the answer is a big “no!!” The more we try to cram into our day, the more overwhelmed we feel. The more overwhelmed we feel, the more likely we are to feel anxious. Furthermore, if we have too many things to do and not enough time to do them, it can lead to a lack of self care and illness; not to mention feelings of frustration or not feeling productive or accomplished. Therefore, good time management skills are essential in coping with pressures from life without experiencing too much stress.
Good time management does not necessarily mean doing more work. It means focusing on the tasks that are meaningful and will make a difference. Whether it’s in your job or your lifestyle as a whole, learning how to manage your time effectively will help you feel more relaxed, focused and in control.
Some suggestions for better time management are discussed below.
Track how you are spending your time – Try taking a day, or a few, to record how much time is spent doing each activity. You may be surprised at how much time certain activities (ahem Pinterest) take up each day. Once you figure out how your time is really being spent, it will be easier to prioritize what really matters and minimize or cut out what does not.
Minimize Distractions – Find out what your main distractions are, and find a way to minimize them or cut them out completely. Whether it’s talking on the phone or with colleagues, playing on your phone, online shopping (guilty), or social media. The author of this blog says that she charges her laptop at night and will then only use a battery’s worth during the day. She states her battery has about 2 hours of life, so she gets 2 hours a day to get all of her work on the computer done. If you need more time than this but find that the internet is a distraction, try disconnecting from your wi-fi.
Goals – Consider who you want to be and what you want to accomplish in your career and/or personal life. This will be the guiding principle for how you spend your time, and also how you manage it. Once you have a big picture planned, it will be easier to create short term goals. Having goals will help you plan more effectively and stay focused on the things that will help you achieve your goals
Make a To-Do List and Prioritize – A common time management mistake is getting lost in the details, which can lead to information overload. Try keeping a single list to keep track of what needs to be done instead of attempting to keep up with multiple lists.
One way to prioritize tasks is by breaking them into these four categories:
(1) Urgent and important
(2) Not urgent but important
(3) Urgent but not important
(4) Neither urgent nor important
This pin does a good job of explaining and breaking down those four categories.
By learning to manage time better, the ultimate goal is to reduce the number of urgent and important tasks. Having to deal with too many of those types of tasks can be stressful.
Practice the 4 D’s when it comes to managing email inbox:
(1) Delete: Determine which emails can be deleted immediately
(2) Do: If the email is urgent or can be taken care of quickly
(3) Delegate: If the email can be better dealt with by someone else
(4) Defer: Set aside time at a later date to spend on emails that require longer time span
Create a Calendar and Set Reminders – Keeping everything in one place and having a visual aide helps determine what fits in your schedule and where. Setting reminders in your phone can help you not forget anything. Even the simple things such as switching laundry over or taking a break can be set in your phone as reminders.
Create routines – Try to create habits and stick to them. Schedule activities like checking email, going to the gym, cleaning, etc and stick to them for continuity in schedule.
Get Organized – Have a system for cleaning, meal planning, decluttering, etc. Having a system and staying organized helps prevent wasting copious amounts of time looking for things, cleaning, decluttering, and organizing projects.
Having a cleaning schedule can look different for each person, so determine what works best for you and your schedule. This could look like cleaning for 20-30 minutes p day (set a timer), having a “chore of the day” such as laundry, or cleaning 1 room p day. Also try to have things you do daily to cut back on major cleaning sprees such as cleaning up as you cook, picking up clutter left behind each day, putting clothes away every day, etc.
Menu planning can help save time so you don’t have to waste time figuring out what to make each day and night, making multiple trips to the store, and so on. Setting aside a day for menu planning, grocery shopping, and maybe even food prepping (if you are so inclined) can save a lot of time during the week.
Take Breaks – This may seem counterintuitive when attempting to manage time, but can lead to more productivity, more energy, and higher levels of creativity. A break is an opportunity to relax and think of something other than work — so don’t spend your breaks working or thinking about work! When planning your day, plan for breaks. See this pin for 50 ways to take a break if you are feeling stumped about things you can do to unwind and relax.
Self-Care – This is another blog topic in and of itself, but very briefly self-care can be broken into categories such as: Mind, Body and Spirit or Physical self care, Lifestyle, Emotional and Mental Self Care, Spiritual, People who offer Support. Figure out ways you can practice self-care in each of these categories. If you are struggling coming up with ideas, the internet is full of ideas. Or, a counselor can help you come up with a self-care map. Seeing a counselor is actually a form of self-care itself!
Wake up earlier: As long as you are getting in your required amount of sleep, try getting up an hour earlier – when it’s still quiet and there are fewer distractions. You will also start off your day feeling accomplished and productive instead of rushed and frazzled.
Don’t Multitask: Our brains are not wired to do too many things at once. We can work nearly twice as fast if we concentrate on doing one thing at a time.
Learn to say no: Don’t stretch yourself too thin. Learning to say no – to going out for drinks when you are tired, extra projects when you are already too busy – helps keep us focused and prevents being overwhelmed. See this post for 25 creative ways to say no, or this printable for legit helpful phrases for learning to say no.
** As a side note, all of these suggestions are great in theory. However, you have to put them into practice for them to work. Simply thinking about them does not do you any good — trust me…So, take some time to consider which of the above will work for you and make the effort to implement them into your lifestyle.