We all live and breathe within twenty four hours each day. But for many of us, even with the best intentions, we end up with too many tasks unfinished at our days end, or floundering in a sea of varied jobs, trying to juggle different priorities, finding ourselves stuck on the best way to move forward. Sound familiar? While I’m not going to click my fingers and solve all your time management problems, there are some useful habits I’ve learnt that help make the most of the time I have. Here's a list of ten:
1. The first is attitude.
Be positive and confident about what you’ve chosen to do with your time. If this involves turning others down because you’re already committed, tell them in a cheerful tone. Say “I’d love to, but I already have another commitment. How about another time?”
2. Make the most of your mornings.
You just get more done.
3. Take breaks.
Otherwise you’ll take fake ones.
4. Allow yourself creative thinking time.
Take set time each week to be creative, think freely, and explore new ideas. This is great if you’re a daydreamer like me. If I find my thoughts starting to wander off, I can pull myself back to my current task because I’m allowing myself time at another part of the week for free thinking. Capture any ‘great idea’ thoughts in a note book for exploring in depth later. (This also suits my stationery obsession perfectly).
5. Let go of what others think of you.
We each have a capacity. Embrace yours. I actually need nine hours of sleep every night. (Gasp!) Shock, horror! Most health recommendations are for eight hours. I need more than this. So be it. Keep your confidence. If your circumstances have changed and your time is now taken up with different or unexpected priorities accept this. Don’t fall into the trap of comparisons. If you’re going to need more time for things be honest with yourself, and others.
6. Practice a regular sleep cycle.
We are far more refreshed, alert and functional in mind and body when we are in a regular sleeping pattern. Of course at different times and seasons this can seem like a far-away dream instead of our regular habit, but overall this is what I aim for. And… I suggest removing technology from your rest space/bedroom. I am personally OCD strict with this. My bedroom is a smartphone, computer and television free zone. Truly restful.
7. Email in blocks of time during the day.
Say five or ten minutes every hour, or 15 to 20 minutes every two hours. Honestly this is way more effective than feeling at the whim of every spam and non-urgent email flung your way. By doing this, you’re managing your emails, and they’re not mastering you. I spend the first 10 minutes in the morning responding to any urgent emails needing a response from the day before, then I leave the rest for blocks later in the day. You’d be surprised how many non-urgent emails resolve themselves in the course of a day.
8. Get a good paper filing system.
This will save you time with unnecessary paper shuffling. Buy something you like the look and feel of. Go on, invest in this. Because then you’ll want to use it. It is basic time management practice that if I pick up a piece of paper and can deal with it and file it within five minutes then I do. This way it’s only handled once and off my desk for good.
Track your achievements and take a look at your to do list for the day and week. Work out your most productive times of the day, and days in the week. Do you whip through everything on your to do list with time to spare? Or are there regularly about three or four things on the list you just can’t get to. Here’s where over time we can see if our expectations are too high for what is actually achievable.
Spend time at the end of each week planning for the next. Ask yourself what do I want to achieve this week? What do I need to achieve this week? What is the most important? What are others expectations? How am I going to manage these?
We are all subject to time, but it doesn’t need to master us. I recommend you do less, plan more, and own how you spend your time. Even if you take just one of these tips and apply it you’ll be easily heading towards making better use of the time you have.
In business or self-employed? Keen to develop your ideas and projects but not sure where to next? I’ll get to know you and your plans, and provide tailored tools and resources to position you for where you want to go. If you’re looking for a skilled practitioner to help with operations I’d love the opportunity to work with you.