Time management is something many of us struggle with. Even if we do relatively well managing our time, there’s always room to grow!
1. Make a Schedule
Making a schedule can go a long way. I like to use a calendar app like Google Calendar, but there are many options out there. When you schedule out your day, it helps you be accountable to something other than yourself. You also don’t have to keep everything in your mind. It’s like outsourcing some brain power to the computer!
You can start by considering when during the day you’re most productive. Some people work best in the mornings, while others find the afternoon to be the time of productivity. There’s no right or wrong answer; just be honest with yourself. During your productive time of day schedule your most important tasks, the absolute must-do’s.
As you make a schedule for the day, remember not to make it too tight. Leave spaces for breaks, random things that arise, and tasks that take longer than anticipated. The schedule isn’t there to beat you up. Use it as a reminder of your intention to boost productivity!
2. Today or Tomorrow?
This is something I struggled with greatly. I would have a list of things I wanted to get done, and I never seemed to come anywhere close to actually finishing it. Instead, I would check some things off my list, while other items just carried over from day to day. On my calendar, I was constantly dragging things from one day to the next.
When you start your day, check in with your priorities. When you go to add something to your mental or physical “to-do” list, pause for a moment. Does it need to be done right now? What is urgent or important, and what can be done another day. By doing this, we can actually set intentions and goals that work for us and not overwhelm ourselves.
We also have to be mindful here not to just put things off that we don’t feel like doing. We must use some discernment in deciding if we’re being wise with our time or just putting things off. It’s not always black-and-white, and sometimes takes some honest investigation.
3. Be Realistic
This is something that many people struggle with. We set our sights too high and try to get too much done. If we can set realistic goals, we can more appropriately set intentions and get things done. When we make our schedule and plan our day, we can make a more accurate appraisal of the time needed to complete the tasks and how much time we have available in our days.
This may need to start with a look at how you’ve worked in the past. Get to know yourself, your capabilities, and how long it takes you to complete tasks. As you get to know yourself and your habits more closely, you can better set up your days. Part of prioritizing our days is knowing what we’re capable of. If we continually aim too high, we’re going to feel beat at the end of the day when we don’t complete our tasks.
4. Notice Hindrances
What gets in your way? Be true to yourself and humbly look at your shortcomings. We all have things that get in our way in getting our priorities done. When you are trying to get through your list of things to do or get work done, where do you get distracted? What keeps you from keeping your priorities straight and following through with your intentions?
Maybe it’s games on your cell phone. Maybe you get distracted by social media platforms. Maybe you just get tired in the afternoon and lose steam. Whatever it is, it’s beneficial to know where we have room to grow. We can prepare for our hindrances and learn to work with our shortcomings rather than letting them control our actions and behavior.
5. Take Breaks
This is counter-intuitive for many of us. We don’t want to take breaks because we want to get more done! However, we are actually much more productive when we take breaks. It’s been shown that taking breaks boosts productivity, and it’s something we need to incorporate into our lives. If we just go all day long, we either burn out or lose productivity.
Schedule your breaks out and take organized breaks. Every individual is different, so investigate for yourself what works. Try taking a 5 minute break every hour and getting up and moving your body. Try eating lunch away from your workspace. Whatever works for you, find a way to step away and give the mind and body a change of scenery for a few minutes.
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