How do you fit it all in? Lately I find myself wishing I had more (or any) time for hobbies, time for quiet reflection and relaxation, time to exercise, time to prepare for the next day, time to get ahead, time to do laundry… etc. It seems that there simply isn’t enough time in the day. I complained to Steve the other day that I thought I had a time management problem, even though it seems like I’m always doing something. Below are some tips, that I will be working on to help understand where my time goes and how to harness it for the better.
- Keep a to-do list: Every single morning, write a to- do list. This list can be work related, home related, personal care related, etc. But you should prioritize your list so that you know what needs to be done immediately (and certainly by the end of that particular day) and what may be able to be pushed aside- at least for a bit. Ideally, you will finish all your list by the end of the day, but let’s be realistic about our best laid plans. If possible, break larger and longer to do list items into specific action steps. For example, if there is a specific project you need to work- focus on an individual step to get that project started, then it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. For example, I’ve been trying to start my kid’s baby books for the last two years. Instead of writing “start scrapbooking” on my list- I’m going to try to break it down into smaller steps. “Get all pictures printed and put in chronological order” is a much more realistic start to a major project.
- Set goals: Setting both long and short term goals is a good way to stay focused and give us something to work towards. Goals should be realistic and achievable, but should also challenge you and shape you into the person you are aiming to be. I really like this article on setting powerful goals.
- Don’t let yourself get (too) distracted: One of my problems is most certainly distraction. How many times have you been about to start a project- big or small- and you stopped to check social media, or read a blog you like, or make a quick phone call? In this age of digital distractions, it’s almost like our devices are dooming us from making progress before we even begin. Of course sometimes we need to take a break, and sometimes posting a photo to Instagram is a great way to do that, however according to Digital Trends, Americans spend an average of an unbelievable 4.7 hours a day on their phones. (Of course this is not all one chunk of time and it’s in bit and spurts throughout the day, but can you even imagine what you could do with an extra (almost) 5 hours a day?! While you’re focusing on a project or a to-do list item to cross off your list, put your phone down.
- Overcome procrastination: Procrastination usually occurs due to on or more of the following factors; laziness, feeling overwhelmed, confusion, disorganization, or just generally dread or dislike for a certain project or task. Are you a procrastinator? (take this quiz to find out!) If you’re a procrastinator, there is hope! First, it helps (see above) to break your larger projects down into smaller action steps. This can help that feeling of dread or of being overwhelmed by a certain task. Second, increase motivation for yourself by rewarding yourself, either intrinsically or extrinsically with incentives. Ask someone to check in with you- sometimes it can help to have other people hold us accountable. Focus on the task at hand and do not multitask. One good way to do this is to set a certain time goal to spend on a project, for example, I’m going to clean the house for the next hour, and whatever I don’t get to today, will move to my to-do list for a later time. You can even set an alarm on your phone to keep track of your goal. If you don’t have anything to do after the alarm gees off, and you’re still motivated, keep going! Otherwise, give yourself permission to stop, and pat yourself on the back, you just got started!
- Stop taking on so much: I am so guilty of this one. I recently heard one of my favorite comedians talk about how she just discovered the best thing…that when someone asks her to do something that she doesn’t want to do, she just says, “thanks for thinking of me, but that’s really not my thing.” How.great. is. that.? It’s so simple, yet it seems to be so hard for a lot of us to do. Our plates are already so full with all the other things we need to do, and if people are your true friends and family that love and care about your well being, they will also understand when you have to say no because you are too busy with other things that are higher priority.
- Schedule tasks so that they align with the flow of your day and your personality: Are you a morning person? If so, try to do high energy, high activity tasks early on and then check your email, etc, later on when you start to feel that afternoon sluggishness come on. If your a night person, start your day off more slowly until your completely awake and ready to tackle your day.
- Give yourself a break: You need a break and time for yourself too. Make sure you take some, even if it’s just drinking a cup of tea or meditating for ten minutes. You deserve it.