Most everyone I talk to about time agrees on one thing, there never seems to be enough of it. Time is a precious, irreplaceable commodity, it cannot be saved, however, it can be managed effectively. Learning how to effectively manage your time is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.
Goal setting is an important component of time-management. A goal is a destination. If you don’t know where your going it’s impossible to make a plan to get there. If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels perhaps it’s because you’ve lost sight of your goals or not set any at all.
Once you have established your goals, short and long term, the most important thing to remember about managing your time is to PLAN. A plan is the roadmap you’ll use to reach your destination. Remember plans are not written in stone. They are guidelines for accomplishing the things you need to do in an efficient manner. Make it a habit, once a week, to plan for that week. If you work Monday through Friday, a good time to assess the things you want to accomplish for that week might be on Sunday night. There’s a saying, “On paper, off your mind”. The act of writing things down frees your mind of mental clutter and relieves the nagging anxiety that you’re forgetting something. Each day, using your weekly plan as a guide write a to-do list for the day. You can do this in the morning or the evening, whenever your mental clarity is at its peak. If you write your list at night you’ll experience an added benefit, a better night’s sleep.
Your weekly plans and your daily to-do lists act like your very own personal assistant, reminding you of the things you need to get done. Below you’ll find tips to keep in mind while making your plans.
• Avoid writing your lists on small scraps of paper. they’re easily misplaced. Be consistent by keeping your list in a notebook or pad kept in the same location whether it be a designated drawer, your fridge, purse or wallet. I keep my list in my planner so it’s always with me.
• If you’re away from your home or office and want to remember something when you get there, call yourself and leave a voicemail. You can also send yourself reminder emails.
• Prioritize your lists.
• When possible schedule large projects at the beginning of the week and, if necessary, break them down over a period of days. We all tend to procrastinate if something seems too overwhelming. But, you’ll find if you schedule a specific time each day to work on large projects you’ll have the peace of mind that there will be an end. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
• Get the things your dread out of the way first, you’ll feel less stressed throughout the day. So many times we take care of little tasks first and feel overwhelmed when the day is ending and we still have a large project looming in front of us. Smaller tasks are easily rolled over to the next day.
• Group similar items together by day of the week or time of day. You might make all your phone calls on Monday morning or each day between the hours of 9:00a and 10:00a.
• Group errands by geographic area to save driving time.
• Consolidate your errands; back and forth trips are a waste of time. When you go to the supermarket, get gas for the car, get the car washed, stop at the post office and take care of any other quick errands all at the same time.
• Bring the things you have to read with you. If you have down time, at the car wash, a doctor’s office or on a commute you can get the things you need to read out of the way.
Planning is nothing more than thinking before you act. Plan your tasks, your weekly meals, your routes, your schedule and so on. A little bit of planning goes a long way. You’ll waste less time and enjoy more productive, stress-free days. Remember to plan some free time for you!