Time, there is just not enough of it. Most of us feel this way, at least some of the time. Modern life is simply hectic. We seem to be running almost all the time and we just never seem to get to the end of the task list. Sound familiar? We thought so. The result of all this, among other things, is a sense that we are not in control, in charge, and “on top of things”. We feel helpless, tired, sometimes angry, often frustrated. It is called, in a word, stress. It can lead to burnout, depression and other psychological problems too.
You cannot have extra hours in your day (just 24 like everyone else) but nearly all of us can learn to use these hours more efficiently. Time management is a vital part of building coping capacity and handling stress. Here are some of the very best time management tips:
Diarise. Not using an organised diary is almost criminal. Planning your time is crucial to using it best. Electronic or paper makes almost no difference but being diligent (record all appointments and tasks) and realistic (allow for travel time, unexpected delays, etc.) are key.
Organise. There is a terrible myth that being organised is somehow “not cool”. What is really not cool is being inefficient, messy, confused and forgetful. Getting organised means tidying up, using lists, getting rid of clutter, etc. You can do it, you should do it, and it is way-cool.
Focus. One thing at a time. Multi-tasking? It’s a nonsense, at least in the way that most people understand it. Focus on the task at hand until it is done. Thinking about other stuff, doing two things at once, etc. just slows you down and creates frustrations – there are a few exceptions with simple “mindless” tasks such as some household chores and there are ways to use “dead time” well such as listening to a book in the car, but the general idea is over-done. By all means plan well and get several things done in an hour or a day…but one at a time.
Break. Nobody can work solidly for hours on end without getting tired and slow. Short frequent breaks help you get MORE done.
Switch Off. Think about some phone-off time each day, if possible. Disable auto-arriving email and go-fetch your email when you want it, (once you try this you’ll wonder how you ever lived any other way). Think, very carefully, about whether you need to be available 24/7 and for whom?
Prioritise. There are times when you simply cannot do everything. So do the thing that’s most important. Say no to the other thing. And move on. Guilt-free.
Two-Minute Rule. Sometimes we can spend more time organising and planning a task than it takes to do it. Some experts suggest that if you can do a thing in two minutes or less, it’s best to do it straight way. The idea is to be direct, immediate, and efficient. This might work for you so give it a try.
Time is almost certainly your most precious asset. Use it well. Use it wisely. Don’t waste it. Understand its value. Start right now.