Life is so busy that for the majority of people there simply isn’t enough time to do everything that must be done. Managing your time is the answer to this dilemma. The 12 steps below will help you do that.
Everyone has exactly the same amount of time – 24 hours each day! We can’t expand it and we cannot control it; but, we can learn to manage it better.
Schedule Your Day
Apps and e-calendars have made scheduling time extremely easy. With a good calendar like Google Calendar you can schedule every aspect of your day. It is important to schedule everything. Even if you plan to spend two hours reading a book, or 30 minutes taking a walk with your daughter, write it down.
When you schedule something on the calendar, you are less likely to forget and more likely to do what you promise you will do. You have a clear picture of your day and any available time. This makes it easy to say no when you should say no, which is a key element in managing time.
Learn to Say NO
The inability to say NO is a huge stressor for some people. If you are the go-to person for your friends – you may love it, but it could be killing you. It is difficult to maintain that level of involvement without being stressed out.
It is not only damaging to your health, it is probably negatively affecting your job performance. Saying NO is a critical part of managing your time – otherwise you will always be over-extending yourself.
Set a Realistic Schedule
When you make an entry on your calendar, always allow more time that you think you will need. (Everything always takes longer than you expect it to.) Building in extra time creates a buffer for when the unexpected happens (and it always does) and ensures that you will finish the project, as planned. If you need to go the store after work to get milk, how long will it really take? Don’t allow 10 minutes when you know in heavy traffic it is more like an hour.
Set Time Limits
It is a good idea to set time limits for many projects and tasks. Without time limits it is easy to keep going and going, even when you know you should stop. Cleaning house, watching TV, sleeping, and working on a hobby are all things that should have time limits. There is always tomorrow. Everything doesn’t always have to be completed in one, long effort.
Give Yourself Room to Breathe
Don’t schedule things back-to-back with no breaks or buffers built in. If you do, you will be adding to your stress level and increasing the chance of burn-out. Build in “breathing time” between different tasks. Recommendation is ten minutes. If you find yourself facing time issues, increase the breathing time by five minutes every time a time crunch arises until the issues stop.
If you have several things that must be done in a day, put them in an order that makes sense: First things, first! It you need groceries, want to exercise, run errands and pick up the kids from school, it makes sense to build you priorities around picking up the kids, i.e. 1) Make grocery list 2) Exercise 3) Run Errands 4) Buy groceries 5) Take groceries home/put away 6) Pick up the kids).
Remember to allow more time that what you think each one will take – give yourself some breathing room in between tasks.
Get Enough Sleep
This may seem like a strange thing to add to a list about time management, but without enough sleepthings will not go as smoothly as they should. Getting enough sleep helps you think more clearly and to work more efficiently.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours each night. Pay attention to your body and get an adequate amount of rest. Yes, if you are young, you may be able to get by with less sleep, but it is not a good idea to get in the habit of cheating yourself of the rest you need – even if you can.
Stop Thinking You Can Multitask
This is one of the most absurd and unwise habits people practice – and brag about. They even multitask while driving, which is not only stupid, it is dangerous.
The brain cannot focus on more than one thing at a time, so it is impossible to multitask. You are simply rapidly jumping from one thing to another and back again.
The result of “multitasking” is: Nothing gets your full, sustained attention and nothing is done as well as it should, or could be done.
Children Need Your Full Attention
The worst mistake we can make is to continue to try to “multitask” when one of the tasks is paying attention to a child. Children are astute and very aware that they are not getting your full attention, and they do not like it!
If you stop kidding yourself and focus 100% on each task (one at a time), you will do everything better and faster – and your children will love it.
Stop Pursuing Perfection
Refusing to accept anything less than perfection is a huge stressor for people all over the world. The worst thing about it is that perfection is not possible for anyone, in any situation. It is critical to learn that doing your best is all you can do.
Many years ago a boss said to me, “You need to learn that most of the time ‘good enough’ is good enough.” Even though he was right, it was a hard lesson for me to learn.
The challenge for perfectionists is to recognize when they have done their best and let it go. It is a huge waste of time and energy to continue working on a project when the effort will add no value.
Build New Habits
There are many things you can do to save and manage time; and, if used enough. they will become good habits.
- Weekly meal planning and creating a grocery list, not only saves time at the grocery store, it also saves money.
- Going to bed at a reasonable hour each night helps you sleep better and keeps your energy levels higher during the day.
- Eating a nutritious breakfast and a healthy lunch helps alleviate the mid-morning and afternoon energy lags that slow down productivity.
Ensuring good health by building good habits will make you more alert and productive all day long, which in turn helps you use your time more effectively.
Time-outs from Technology
Nothing can suck up time as much as TV, Tablets, Phones, Electronic Games, etc. When every person in the household or in a group of friends has his/her head buried in a screen, fun and relationships wither. There can be no intimacy if one or both people are staring at some type of screen.
Being addicted to technology not only hampers relationships, it interrupts and blocks your desire to be active, to exercise, to be healthy, and to have “old-fashioned” fun.
You can also become so involved with the “screen” that you forget about time, and time management goes out the window – and stress levels go up. Learn to take time-outs from technology. Give yourself and your loved ones a gift – your full attention.
Carefully consider these ideas and ask yourself how they can be useful in life for better time management and as a fringe benefit, to lower your stress.