How do you spend your 168 hours a week?
Do you feel that there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done that you need to? We all experience this at one time or another. However, we are all give the same 168 hours in a week, so how do some people seem to be able to get everything done and have time left over? The key is time management. These people probably don’t have fewer things to do than you, but they’ve learned how to manage their time in order to make the most of it. You can too!
Time management is making the best use of your time and can be accomplished through prioritization of tasks. The key is to be able to identify the most important tasks and those that can wait. This is an ongoing process that needs to be evaluated regularly because tasks can shift from one category to the other depending on your situation. For instance, you have a project due at work, so that takes a priority over painting the inside of your house until the work project is done. However, if you’re trying to get your house ready to sell, then your priority will shift to getting the house painted. This is why the ability to weigh decisions carefully and purposefully will decrease the likelihood of you making a poor choice. In turn, this will prevent you from wasting time on fixing a problem that could have been avoided altogether.
Another element to consider is giving your complete attention to the task at hand. By focusing solely on one task at a time, you will do a better job at what you are trying to accomplish. You will most likely complete the task quicker than if you’re trying to do more than one thing at a time. Multitasking is not something that can be done easily or efficiently. It has actually been found that people are more productive if they do not try to multitask.
The benefits of time management are clear, but does this mean all of your time is structured to the last second of each day? No! Two important things to think about when adding time management to your life are free time and self-discipline. Incorporating time management into your schedule doesn’t mean that you do not have free time. The whole idea behind it is to create the space for free time. It is essential to your wellbeing—you need it in order to relax and unwind. Effective use of time management will allow for this.
The other consideration, self-discipline, is to help you stay on track and prevent procrastination. Self-discipline isn’t something that magically appears, but something that you work at every day. This is actually doing what you need to do, even when you don’t feel like doing it. The secret is that the more you practice it, the easier it becomes to do. By having self-discipline, you will be more likely to stay on task and complete what you set out to do in the time you’ve set aside to accomplish it.
The best way to use time management is by first identifying your tasks and prioritizing them. It is essential to do this at the beginning of your day in order to know what you need to focus on first. Plan for interruption during your day whether it is intentional or not, but do not plan every single minute of your day. You will be less stressed when something comes up that you didn’t plan for if you do this. It is also important to take a pause or break (5 minutes or less) every 20-30 minutes in order to help get back on track or remain focused. With the technology available to us, you can set a timer on your phone or watch in order to ensure you follow this process. By providing your mind this reprieve, it will actually allow you to accomplish more than if you tried to work straight through. Don’t be immediately accessible via phone, text, or email. This will provide you with less interrupts and often times, minor situations will resolve without you having to spend a significant amount of time on them. Delegate what you can to others in order to be able to focus on the things that can’t be completed by someone else. In order to increase productivity by feeling as you’ve accomplished something, do easy tasks that can be completed quickly and efficiently first.
By managing your time, you will feel more in control of your life, have less stress and be more productive. As Ferris Bueller says, “Life moves pretty fast and if you don’t stop to take a look around once in a while, you might miss it.”