How to Manage Time with 10 Easy Tips
Do you feel like no matter how hard you try, you simply can’t fit everything you have to do on your daily schedule? Would you like to gain more time for yourself, your loved ones, or other activities that matter to you? The key is to learn and manage your time better.
At this point, you probably disagree that your problem is time management. However, I bet that, if you’re anything like me, you waste a lot of time on things you could accomplish within just minutes, on the social media, or wandering through stores. You don’t realize that because you get distracted.
Moreover, your productivity and ability to focus may be low due to insufficient sleep. I hate to tell you this, but sacrificing your sleep hours to get everything done will not help in the long run. On the contrary, you will end up exhausted, sick, and have to sacrifice even more valuable time to recover. It goes without saying that more things to do will pile up throughout this period.
So what can you do? First of all, breathe easily. Stress and panic don’t help. Then, take a look at the time management tips below, and start following them. They’ve helped me, so I’m sure they’ll help you as well. Feel free to contradict me if they don’t!
10 Easy Tips on How to Manage Your Time Better
1. Set Your Priorities
I know you want to get everything done, but, sometimes, it is simply impossible. Also, some things are urgent, others can wait. My advice is that you prioritize your tasks for the day, and take care of them according to their urgency and their importance.
If your child is sick, postponing the visit to the doctor to get some work done won’t help. Leaving aside the fact that the child’s condition could get worse, you won’t be able to focus on your work. As far as your work is concerned, no matter how important it is to you, don’t let it come before your loved ones. At the end of the day, a better job or a higher salary won’t count much if you go back to an empty home and have no one to share your accomplishments with.
2. Schedule Your Activities and Stick to Your Schedule
I know it sounds easier said than done, but you do need a schedule. Without it, you’ll get carried away with some of your activities and have no time left for others. For example, when you clean your home, you always find something else to dust, wipe, or polish. When you go shopping, there’s always one more store you want to visit or one more thing you want to buy.
Unless you set a limit, you’ll find yourself spending hours on activities you could have done in minutes. Sure, you’ll visit the additional store one day and dust that extra shelf the next time you clean, but by then, you’ll be able to reserve time for them, and your schedule won’t suffer.
Without a schedule, you may also forget to do important things. With it, you can check the tasks you’ve already performed and see what’s next. Let’s say you need to go to the drugstore after shopping. If you allow yourself to get carried away, you’ll surely forget, but the schedule will remind you.
3. Keep a Calendar and Mark Important Tasks and Events
I love smartphones and tablets for their calendars and planners, and for the fact that they allow you to synchronize tasks from various apps. You can schedule alerts and set reminders for both work-related and personal tasks on them, and you won’t have to worry about forgetting anything.
Moreover, whenever you want to postpone an activity and mark it in the calendar for later, you’ll be able to see what other activities you have planned for the day and avoid overloading your schedule. Whether it is a birthday, a meeting with an important client, or your child’s school play, it helps to have them all laid out under your eyes.
I used to postpone work tasks to last minute, forgetting I already had other commitments for the day. To avoid delays and losing clients, I then had to work all night and had to sacrifice two more days to recover. It’s been a little challenging to get used to marking everything on the calendar, but it was worth it.
4. Set Reminders
Even with your priorities in order, your to-do list, and your calendar up to date, you may still get distracted and forget about important stuff. To avoid that, set reminders. For example, I set reminders 30 or 15 minutes before every task, to allow myself some preparation time. I also have a reminder to check the next day’s list. This way, I can adjust it if necessary, and avoid surprises.
Even though you usually wake up at seven, and your body has adjusted to your schedule, having an alarm set will not hurt. Although you can’t forget about important meetings, time flies by without you realizing it, and you could think you still have half an hour left to get ready when the meeting has already started.
5. Plan for the Unplanned
Sometimes, a drive or walk that would normally take ten minutes ends up lasting half an hour. Perhaps the traffic is crowded, a road is blocked and you have to take a detour, or you run into someone you know and stop to talk. Always allow yourself a few extra minutes, to avoid delays.
If they don’t appear, you will simply arrive a little earlier at your destination, which isn’t necessarily bad. You will have time to prepare, make an urgent phone call, check your email, or simply refresh yourself. It is better to be early and gain a little time than be late and have all your plans thrown off track.
6. Give Yourself a Break
How many times have you skipped lunch or hurried out of your home without having breakfast? That needs to stop. You may think you are saving down, but you’re not. Fatigue compromises your ability to focus, make optimum decisions, learn, and memorize. Breaks and rest do the contrary (this interesting article from Psychology Today explains how).
I’ve tried working without a break, and I noticed it took me two to three hours to write a piece I would have normally completed in one hour. I stepped away from my laptop, made myself a coffee, played a game with my girls, and, surprisingly, new ideas reached the surface, and my keyboard seemed to type on its own. Try it yourself, and tell me how it goes!
7. Eliminate Distractions
I bet it has happened to you more than once to work on something and have your phone ringing and interrupting you. I bet social media notifications or instant messages pop up in your browser when you need to focus the most! You access them to keep up with the news and find yourself talking nonsense with one of your contacts or scrolling the newsfeed. Don’t!
If you want to get things done and be productive, you need to eliminate distractions. Turn off your phone if you can, adjust your notifications settings, and focus on the work at hand. If you do so, you’ll finish earlier and gain enough time to catch up with the news as well.
8. Limit Your Use of Social Media
I know, everyone tells you that we live in the age of social media, and if you don’t use it, you don’t exist. I disagree, and I think you actually need to take a break from social media (here is an interesting article supporting my opinion with scientific studies).
I’m not saying you should close your accounts and stop using social media for good. However, don’t let it get the best of you. It’s OK to access your accounts over your coffee, on your way to and from work if you don’t drive yourself, or while waiting for something or someone. Just don’t put your work on hold for that, and don’t trade your real-life friendships for virtual ones.
9. Learn to Say No and Accept Help
I know you want to do everything, be everywhere, and help everyone. Unfortunately, your days have only 24 hours. Instead of accepting new challenges, letting them pile up, and disappointing others and yourself when you can’t cope with the responsibilities, learn to say no. If you already have more clients than you can handle, don’t accept new ones, or eliminate some of your old ones to make room for new opportunities.
Similarly, if you can’t handle everything on your own, don’t hesitate to ask for and accept help. Perhaps your spouse can help with the housework, your mom can watch the kids every now and then, or you can outsource some tasks. When you boss keeps asking you to work overtime or take on assignments outside your job description, talk to them openly about it. Perhaps you’ll get a promotion, or the kick you need towards a new, better job.
10. Always Make Lists, and Include Your Own Needs on Them
Lists can help you stay organized and avoid forgetting things. They may seem tedious at first, but they’ll prove lifesaving. I used to think I could memorize everything. Until stress and exhaustion got the best of me and I found myself neglecting important tasks. Now, I make lists for almost everything, from the grocery I need to buy to the projects I work on, the people I need to meet with or call, friends; birthdays, kids’ kindergarten activities, and more.
When you make your lists, always remember to include something that makes you happy. For example, my high school English teacher used to say that buying something for yourself helps when you feel down. Throughout our 16 years of relationship, I’ve discovered nothing relieves pain and stress better than my curling into my husband’s arms.
You know better than anyone what keeps you going and makes you happy. Just put on your lists, and make it a priority. If you don’t, you might end up regretting it, because money, professional achievements, and social appreciation are nothing compared to the happiness of loving and being loved, of spending time and building memories with your loved ones.
Of course, as mentioned above, this is just my opinion. Feel free to share yours in a comment, and don’t hesitate to contribute to the above list if you have further tips and advice. In the end, this article’s ultimate goal is to help you make the most of your time and reach your full potential. Any feedback is welcome!