Time – the constant progression through each day taking you into the future! Time is how we track our days, weeks, and years! With the start of a new year, even a new decade, we may reflect considering our past and future. Many people set goals for self-improvement. Often, managing time is considered as a place for improvement and rightly so. With better time management, you may see improved productivity accompanied by less stress – that is a WIN-WIN !
Initially, you may want to start with a “time diary”. It is the same principle of a food diary. Often, what we “think” and what is “actually happening” can be very different. A detailed diary of how you spend your time will show possible areas of improvement. An example, you often spend a few minutes in the morning checking your social media accounts before beginning your day, what you consider to be 10 minutes. After tracking for a few days, you see that you actually spend on average of 18-22 minutes during this time. Now you are aware.
After you become more aware of detailed time usage, you can set some parameters or limits. You may find that setting parameters for yourself can keep you on track. Overall, staying on task can improve overall performance. Today’s tech-savvy world provides ample tools to assist you. Very straight forward options include “timers” – most smartphones/devices are preprogrammed with timers, alarms, stopwatch, etc. Slightly more advanced, free calendars apps can be preset to not only track your schedule but send reminders when the task begins and ends. Reminders and alerts can be audio (bells/whistles) or even email alerts or both.
You may also benefit from using a “task list” for each day. Whether using “pen and paper” or “electronic notes”, seeing the list of tasks to complete can be clarifying – helping eliminate the feeling of “too much to do”. Benefits have also been seen with putting your largest, most important tasks first. We often talk about pre-planning meals or menu plans. The same benefit can be applied to your schedule. An organized schedule does not magically fall into place allowing for the most productive path; you have to plan as much as possible – then roll with the flow when you have to!
Be very cautious of over-scheduling yourself. There is no sense in scheduling yourself to the point of exhaustion. You still need rest physically and mentally, and every persons physical/mental meters replenish or deplete differently. Scheduling time for sleep and rest between daily tasks can be helpful. This will help balance your time management. Be empowered to say “NO”. You do not have to agree to all or any offers or requests. Know your limits, but do not be afraid of change. Without change, nothing changes! Be willing to change your schedule.
Get Help If Needed
Be resourceful. Sometimes, people feel the need to complete all the work themselves, but that can wear you out prematurely. Use the resources available to you to help you achieve the task. For example, if you have coworkers, family members or friends that can help lighten your load, utilize them! This will allow you time for the more pressing tasks. Also, services like delivery or “grocery pickup” can be game-changing. Let’s say you spend 1 hour a week shopping for groceries; if you use grocery pick up service (where they shop for you – you just pick the groceries up), you have saved 4 hours of time that month! What if you have a friend whose child attends the same band practice as your child twice a week – would they consider carpooling? Be creative! Become aware, then plan and follow through! Your productivity will flourish!
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