Time management woes getting you down? Start your new year off right by incorporating these tricks into your daily regimen. Not only do these tips help you to be more productive, but they also help you to have more time to do the things you love. Learn my 7 tips for time management below!
Plan all of your time. All of it.
Time management starts with planning. In fact, it can increase your performance, as well as increasing well-being. But, how do you effectively manage your schedule? First, you need a way to keep track of time. A planner (electronic or paper, whichever you prefer) is essential. Once you have the tools, you need to use them to keep track of all of your commitments. People think I’m crazy when they see that I put “sleep” on my calendar, but intentions are the strongest predictor of behaviors. If you want to make sure you do the things you want to do, you have to pencil them in.
For example, I schedule when I wake up and when I work out. I also schedule when I go to sleep, hanging out with friends/family – even going to dinner with my husband! While it might sound strange to keep track of these social commitments, it helps to ensure that you are taking the time to do what you want to do. Otherwise, work or other commitments can creep into personal time, leaving you no time for yourself. That means holding personal commitments sacred – just as you would with work commitments. Don’t cancel your workout to take a call – find another time to schedule the call if you have that time set aside to break a sweat!
Be honest with yourself about time commitments.
Once you start scheduling your day, it’s important not to be overly ambitious with your goals. For example, if you aren’t a morning person, scheduling a 6am wake-up and a 7am workout might not be your best bet. If you want to stick with your schedule, think about what will work, not just what is ideal. In reality, the ideal schedule is the one that you’ll stick to. So, think about what you’ll actually do and how much time it will actually take. Being realistic about your schedule helps to ensure you’ll stick to it.
Prioritize ahead of time.
If you do end up having a curveball thrown into your day, it’s ok to push a “non-urgent” item to the following day. On Sunday, I like to review my schedule for the upcoming week and to rank my tasks by importance for each day. Sometimes, I also list the same task on multiple days, so that I make time to get it done on another day, if I don’t get to it right away. If I do end up getting everything completed, I can schedule the time I was setting aside for it to do something else (or schedule something for me!).
Also, planning ahead for appointments that are recurring is really helpful. If you aren’t regularly going to the doctor, for example, try scheduling your annual check-up for the following year when you’re already there. Getting things on the calendar early ensure that you’ll do it and you won’t be overdue for important appointments.
Plan details that take time.
It’s also important to think about all of the details that you need to take into consideration so that you stay on schedule. That means planning for transportation, parking, walking to meetings, etc. When you put something on the calendar, think about how long it will actually take you to get where you need to get in order to complete the task. Adding a little buffer in your schedule can help you to stay on track, so you don’t feel overwhelmed or scattered. You might also think about being realistic about details that take time even if you aren’t traveling.
For example, it takes me a little while to get into the zone when I’m writing academic articles. So, I always give myself a longer stretch of time to work on papers than I need to do the actual writing. I know that I’ll need to get settled and to take breaks in between pages, so I just build that time right into my schedule.
Multitask whenever you can.
Can you answer emails while you’re on the train? Is it possible to draft a memo while you’re waiting for a doctor’s appointment? Are you able to get your phone call in to grandma while you’re in a cab from the airport? If you have time that is normally “meaningless” that you can use for something meaningful, you can get more done than you usually do. Just make sure that you’re not multitasking while you’re doing something important, even if you like to multitask, so you don’t tap out on your ability to complete tasks effectively.
Find time “sucks” and eliminate them.
Sometimes you have to say goodbye to commitments that aren’t providing you any joy or benefit. Doing a time edit can help make sure that you are spending time on the things you really want to do. Asking yourself “why” you are doing particular tasks can help. Are you doing things because you want to? Because you have to? Because you feel guilty if you don’t? Of course we all have things that we have to do and we might not love to do. But, it’s good to eliminate things that are not necessary and you don’t love to do. That might mean practicing saying “no”.
For example, I serve on the Boards of Dawn’s Place, the Philadelphia Society of People and Strategy, and St. Basil Academy (my alma mater). These are all organizations that I care deeply about. I believe strongly in their mission and contributing to their success makes me happy. However, in order to make the time to serve on these Boards, I had to turn down other opportunities. Sometimes having the time to do the things you love, means saying “no” to other perfectly good opportunities that just don’t align as well with your goals or values.
Stay accountable to your timing.
Now that you have a schedule, you’ve made time for yourself and your work, it’s important to stick with your schedule. Don’t worry if things don’t go perfectly at first. Use the information you get from the first few weeks of scheduling to make tweaks. Finding it hard to get out of bed for a 6am workout? Try 6pm instead. Once you settle on a schedule that works for you, stay with it. You’ll be amazed how much more you’ll achieve and how much better you feel!
What are your tips for time management? We would love to hear them in the comments below!!