Time management is probably one of the most important, most undervalued assets one can have in these busy times. Emails, social media updates, a boss, co-workers, friends and family constantly fight over your attention. Time management is the tool that will give you back your life.
When you hear ‘time management‘ your first thought might be that this is something for busy managers. Well yes, but planning your day cleverly will also benefit housemen and -wives, students, entrepreneurs, models, barista’s, … you get the point 😉
It doesn’t take a complicated course to master the tools of managing time wisely. Be(com)ing aware of when and where time slips through your fingers is key.
Awareness will help you set boundaries, prioritize, and make clever choices so you will have more time to spend on the most important person: you!
So the first thing you want to stop doing is multitasking. Why? Because it’s a myth and just doesn’t work.
Instead of what you might think, multitasking is nothing more than performing multiple tasks really fast one after another.
The problem with multitasking is that the constant switching back and forth between tasks comes at the cost of losing time that is needed to refocus.
For most people, time is used more efficiently when singletasking: focusing on just one thing at a time.
Use bullet points
Listing tasks and goals as bullet points on a list gives you a clear overview of what needs to be achieved. You can write things down on paper every day, or create a list for a week in a digital file, whatever works best for you.
Having such a list at hand is great for time management. At a glance you can see what needs to be done and choose what has priority at a given time.
Then give this task or goal your complete attention and finish it before moving to the next thing on your list.
Set time boundaries
Some tasks or goals can’t be completed in one go. Time management is your BFF in these cases.
Losing weight, getting fit, setting up a successful blog, organising an event … these are all goals that can’t be achieved over night. Since reaching goals like these is often months or even years away, it’s easy to ‘forget’ about them and get into big trouble by the time you need (or want) to deliver.
This is where setting time slots comes in.
By f.e. alotting an hour a day, half an hour twice a week, or half a day every weekend and sticking to this scheme, you are well on your way to reaching your goal with really not a lot of effort every week.
Stick to a rhythm
Do you know that feeling on Monday morning after a few days (a.k.a. ‘the weekend’) of sleeping in? Sure you do. It takes a few hours and multiple espresso’s to get back into the rhythm…
As alluring as staying in bed until 10am (or later) on a Sunday may sound, it can seriously mess up your productivity during the week.
So try to stick to a rhythm. Get up at 7am (or as is normal for you on work days) and make good use of the ‘extra’ hours to for example declutter a closet, go to the gym, or write a post for that blog you want to start.
Get rid of cable
Now this is almost some sort of taboo topic, but let me try to explain why cutting cable is probably the best decision you can make this year.
For starters, lots of tv series and talkshows can be watched (at a later moment) online. This way YOU are the one in charge of how you plan your day.
Further, by not being able to thoughtlessly switch channels you reduce the chance of spending a whole night watching empty entertainment.
And by getting rid of cable, you will save money every month (plus when you sell your tv, you can add this to the total … 🙂 ).
Just do the math to see what you will have saved after just one year and how many hours you would need to work to earn this amount of money.
A penny saved is a penny earned! Put this money on your savings account and enroll in a course, read a book or hit the gym in the evening.
Close your email program
Many people have their email program ‘open’ the entire (working) day. In addition they switch back and forward between windows to hit ‘refresh’, just in case it didn’t reload automatically. WHY?!
Think of it: do you check the mail box at your front door every five minutes? Open the front door even or walk around in the area just to see if there’s a letter stuck somewhere?
For efficient time managament, closing down your email program is paramount. It’s not enough to keep it open and not check it. Pop-ups will still fight over your attention, and as mentioned earlier: multitasking is not the way to go 😉
So check your email at some point in the morning and one other moment during the day. Twice a day is more than enough.
Set times for social media
What goes for email also applies to social media. It is easy to forget about the time and ‘entertain’ yourself with scrolling and clicking from one pin to the next post.
You know what I’m talking about when you find yourself watching holiday pics of some niece of a friend of a former classmate of yours…
So set a time limit for checking your social media channels and – even more important – be critical in your choice of social media (checking just two platforms is way easier than keeping track of five or more).
Declutter and organize your stuff
Lots of time is lost looking for stuff. An important part of time management is knowing what can be found where.
When you regularly find yourself searching for your car keys, some book that you’re positive you have, clothing, digital files, or even your cat, this tip is for you.
First, be sure to get rid of everything that you don’t use or need by decluttering. Clean out your closet with 4 simple habits for example.
When you aren’t sure about this, I suggest reading 4 reasons having a minimalist wardrobe is a really good idea.
Then, give everything that you do need a logical and fixed place. And make sure your cat is chipped 😉
Procrastinating is the worst when it comes to time management. Just get started and get your s#!t together!
Seriously: don’t spend another second procrastinating, just start with the simplest of tasks on your list and before you know it, you’re well on your way.
If it helps, try to figure out why you are procrastinating. Are you afraid to fail? Not sure of your aproach? Uncertain about anything? Then start with tackling this by talking to someone you trust, informing yourself, or enroll in some course or workshop.
Be sure you use your time wisely; spending whole afternoons feeling insecure is not a productive way toward a happy life.
Get started with allocating your time to work on goals that you find worth pursuing and spend time with people whose company you enjoy.
Simplify your life
Sometimes you may feel you need to strive to have everything: an awesome career, perfect children, amazing cooking skills, a villa, fancy car, three holidays a year and a killer body.
When you are truly honest to yourself, do you really need all this? Do you really WANT all this?
Time management gets harder with every activity and item that you add to your life. More stuff means that there are more cleaning and maintenance tasks to be done.
More travels means we need more money, which equals working more hours.
Simplify your life. Ask yourself if you are forcing yourself to achieve goals that aren’t truly what you want and let go of everything that isn’t needed.