“I wish I had more time”
For better or worse, there are only 24 hours in a day and I remind you that you do need to sleep some of them. So I have to ask you: “What do you do to effectively manage your time?”
Nothing? Well, let me give you some ideas!
1. Find out When you’re Productive
People are productive at different hours in a day. For example, I’m in my most productive phase late morning to early evening. Sometimes, I work at night, too, but it’s because I don’t have any other option, and usually, I’m tired in the morning.
It’ll take a trial-and-error approach, probably. But you’ll be happy to know your productive hours because then you can schedule your most important tasks in these hours.
2. Plan Ahead
The number #1 thing you can do is to start planning beforehand. Get a planner – don’t try to remember everything – and every day before going to bed, plan your next day.
a. First of all, make a to-do list with things you have to do tomorrow.
b. Second, prioritise your tasks.
c. Third, put each task on your planner on a specific time slot.
Estimate how long it’ll take for a task to be completed and add a 15-20% to be sure. Don’t assume everything will go all right, because they usually don’t.
Set this amount of time aside for the task and don’t give it anymore. The time a task needs is like a gas, it takes up the space you give it. If you give a task a week, it’ll take a week. If you give the same task a month, it’ll take a month to finish it. Setting short deadlines is essential in time management.
Focus on the minutes that you need for a given task, not on hours. This way, you can appreciate more how much time you spend on a task. Because, if the task needs 45 minutes and you give it an hour – and you’ll spend this hour on the task – these are 15 minutes lost. 15 minutes you could use to take a break.
And since we’re talking about breaks, make sure you set some time for breaks. For going out for a walk, working out or just relaxing and reading a book. These things are important, too.
d. Batch similar tasks.
When you get in the mood, it’s easier to finish many similar tasks, and it’s also more time-efficient than doing irrelevant tasks to each other.
For example, if you write, it’s better to finish all the writing you want to do in a day and then move on to the editing than going back and forth.
e. Set time aside for time-wasters.
First, you want it, so it’s okay to use some time not in a productive way and second, you’ll do it anyway, so at least choose when to do it. Include it in the plan, so you can do it when you’re in the least productive phase of the day.
f. Commit to the plan.
The plan doesn’t worth anything if you don’t follow it.
3. Important Things First
Start your work with the most important task you have. This way, even if you can’t do anything else, your day can still be considered a success.
4. Say No
What everyone will tell you about time management is that you should say no, more often than you do.
It may sound rude to you, but it’s good advice. I’m also one of these people that want to help every time someone asks for my help, and I’ve done this for a lot of years. What I’ve found out?
a. Most people don’t appreciate it. And the more often, you give your help, the less they appreciate it.
b. When you ask for help, people you helped aren’t usually there to help you. And if they decide to help you, sometimes they don’t eventually, and they don’t even realise that you counted on their help and that now you’ll have a problem.
c. When you say “yes” to everything, you have so little time for yourself that you can’t do anything you want, and you end up miserable.
Now, of course, it’s nice to help others – and I’m not saying you shouldn’t. But you should be selfish a little bit. If you have something else to do, just say no. And if you want to do something big in your life, you should learn to eliminate distractions from your life.
5. Focus on the Task at Hand
When you have something to do, don’t let other things distract you. Focus only this one task. You can have a notepad close to you to write down any other ideas that come while working and don’t have them bother you.
And don’t try to multitask, it’s usually a waste of time. Not only will you need more time to finish, but you’ll also make mistakes messing up the two tasks.
And while we’re talking about focus, you may want to check out the Pomodoro Technique.
6. Make Good Use of Useless Time
There is so much lost time. On the bus or while waiting in a queue. You could use this time for little tasks, like checking your emails or calling your family or friends.
Things you’ll do anyway, and you can save some time.
7. Take Breaks
We’re used to running all day long. That’s why it’s important to have some days off, here and then. It’s up to you how many days you need, but what’s for sure is that you NEED them.
You can use this time to feel calmer and to stop getting stressed. Believe me, after a short break, you’ll be hungry for work, and you’ll be more productive in the next few days.
8. Stop Procrastinating
Procrastination will be your biggest enemy here. It’ll mess up with your plan, make you late on projects and you’ll feel like crap for being lazy.
It’s important to not let it beat you. It’s all about willpower; it’s all up to you. If you want to beat procrastination, you can do it.
I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s possible, and that’s all that matters, right?
9. Reward Yourself
You need to motivate yourself to use your time effectively. Especially, in the beginning, when you’re not used to it.
So make sure you offer yourself a little treat when you achieve your goals and when you don’t deviate from the schedule. Even a little thing like a walk or an extra night out with friends is great motivation.
10. Know Where To Stop
There are always more things to be done. One more project to start, one more task to finish. But what people who manage their time effectively know is that there are things in life that are more important than work.
Like spending time with your family, being there for your friends or volunteering. So get your values straight and never forget about them.
11. If you Start it, Finish it
If you read an email, answer it. Don’t put it in a folder for later. If you start writing an article, finish it. Don’t stop half-way to come back another time to finish it.
If you leave things for later, not only does it help procrastination ruin your day, but you also need more time, because next time you get back to the task, you’ll have to reevaluate what needs to be done.
So, when you start something, finish it.
With Practise, it Gets Easier
I know it may seem difficult in the beginning, but it’s not that hard. If you set hard rules and you follow them for a few weeks, then it becomes a habit, and it’s easier to stick to the plan.
Try it tonight. Before sleeping, make the plan for tomorrow and try to follow it. You may fail the first few days, but with persistence, everything is possible.
Let me know what you think about my tips and, if you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer! Any suggestions are always welcome, so tell me about topics you’d like me to write.
And if you liked this, check out how to plan your day better.
See you next time!