Time management is a crucial aspect of everybody’s lives. Although time is a man-made construct, we abide by it and have to live our lives with one eye on the clock. There are only so many hours in a day and the older we get, the more responsibilities we have which is why being able to use your time well is such a vital skill.
It may be tempting to plan out your time hour by hour but that can easily set yourself up for failure. Certain things you can plan time wise like an exercise session but other tasks, including work projects or even something simple like cooking, can take up more time than you have allowed yourself. If you allow extra time, then you may be left with awkward time gaps where you can’t really do anything.
Using your time efficiently starts with goals; either daily goals or weekly goals. Making a list of the things you want to accomplish within a week will give you a good idea of how to use your time. It may be that you want to work on a mobile app but you know that will take many hours to make. You know you won’t be able to create it in one sitting, so you could dedicate three hours to it in the morning with the intention of having lunch at noon. Then you give yourself an hour for lunch which gives you leniency for if you run over time with working on the application and if not, then you have a standard lunch break.
When you have your list of what you need to do within a week, you can break it down into days, making it clear which day you will focus on which task (or portion of a task). The first time planning that you should do is working time and meal times. It’s good to have a concept of when you will have breakfast, lunch and dinner as you don’t want to skip meals but you also want to plan the work around meal times. By planning your working time, you will know how many hours you want to work (i.e. 8 hours a day) and then you can plan what times you will want to work. If you are in charge of your own working hours, you may want to start work at 7am so that you can be done by 3 pm. However, if you have designated working hours already assigned to you (i.e. 9am till 5pm), then it’s up to you to manage the remaining time.
Not only do you have work projects to manage, but there will be household responsibilities (cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc.). Very similarly to work time management, you want to plan out what tasks you need to do in a day, and ideally do them as early as possible but also fit them round your working time. If you finish work at 5pm, it may be best to do the weekly food shop after work.
Time management is now a lot easier thanks to technology. For example, food shopping you can do online and have it delivered to your door which actually saves you quite a lot of time and energy. You can also create alarms to remind you of certain times/events in a day so that beforehand, you can remain fully focused on the task in hand.
It’s always worth tackling the hardest things first. In my experience, that makes all the difference with time management, especially if you aren’t sure how long something will take. If you give yourself plenty of time, early on, you will stay clear headed to focus on getting through it. For example, if you need to create content for a marketing campaign, give yourself an entire day to work on it. If you finish it earlier, you can use the spare time to work on other tasks that you have set out for the week.
One of the most important parts of time management is not to overload yourself. If you put too many tasks on your to-do list, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to do them all and even if you do, you’ll likely burn out meaning that the rest of the week, you won’t be able to function at your full capacity. Make sure that you leave an hour or two every day (ideally in the evening) where you can relax or do something enjoyable. Unwinding before bed will help you to sleep better and leave you ready to start the next day.
Being able to use your time efficiently means being able to plan your time and tasks well. It’s not about being busy every minute of the day but rather, it’s about doing things with ease and less pressure. Having a physical to do list will make it visually clear how many tasks you have to tackle and ticking them off is a satisfying feeling. You want to keep yourself motivated and productive.