Time is one of the most precious resources you have, and simultaneously, one of the most common problems you might struggle with. No matter how much you try to stay focused and stick to a strict schedule, it seems that you never get all of your tasks done.
Time management requires organizing your hours efficiently so at the end of the day, you feel satisfied with what you’ve accomplished. Good time organization leads to increased productivity and an ability to solve multiple problems efficiently.
The great thing is that it’s never too late to learn how to properly manage your time. Here are seven easy things you can put in place today.
1. Plan your day ahead
The starting point for effectively organizing your time is planning your days in advance. Whether you do this in the evening or as the first thing in the morning, comprising your schedule for the following day is really important in order to get everything done.
Keep it realistic: only include the tasks you know you'll be able to cross off your list and let yourself have some breaks in between - this will help you clear your mind and be more productive.
As soon as you notice that you’ve done all the things you’ve planned out, you’ll be extremely satisfied and motivated. In fact, you might actually feel great just by planning out your schedule itself.
Separately, you can create a list of long-term goals and coordinate them with the tasks you set up for each day.
One of the best ways to organize your day is to use a planner. There are dozens of planner types available on the market; choose one that best suits you. For example, if you often need to make a ton of phone calls, you can opt for a planner that has a special section for writing down phone numbers.
2. Prioritize each task
If you’re reading this, you’re probably one who has a lot of things to do every day, and of course, some are more important than others. Prioritize each task and begin with the time-sensitive and challenging ones.
On a good morning, you’re most relaxed and your brain is well-rested, so you can schedule the easier ones for the second half of your day.
3. No more multitasking
Seriously. Focus on one task at a time. If you know you have a lot to do, you probably want to finish everything as quickly as possible and you might end up trying to do multiple things at once.
Most times, you won’t be very efficient.
We actually often tend to overestimate our ability to multitask. When we switch from one task to another, we need time and effort to re-familiarize ourselves with what we have to do believe it or not.
Take care of one thing and once finished, start the other. You’ll feel more relaxed and everything will be easier to complete.
4. Organize your space
If everything around you is a mess, you'll waste a lot of time looking for things that are scattered all over the place. Organize your space both at the office and at home.
Try making it a habit.
An effective way to do this is to use the three-box method. Put all the things you use in one box, the ones you need to store away in a second box, and the ones you can donate or throw away in a third box. Then start organizing the things that you use from box one so you can easily reach them whenever you need.
Another great idea is to keep all your documents in folders and to add tags with details about each piece so that when you search for something, you'll know exactly where to check and the tags will help save a bunch of time.
5. Apply the 8-8-8 rule
For a more balanced scheduling, try the Bjerggaard's 8-8-8 rule. You have 24 hours a day and you can split them into 8 hours of work, 8 of relaxation, and 8 of sleep (a little less when you take into consideration traveling, changing your clothes, showering, etc).
Stop overworking yourself because that means you have less time for relaxation and sleep; and naturally, your work efficacy will decrease on the next day.
After you finish work, leave all your job-related responsibilities and worries aside and enjoy the activities you love - taking a walk, Netflix, drinking a glass of wine, catching up with friends, playing sports, browsing places to travel, etc. And then, have a good night sleep.
6. Stay away from distractions
Take a few moments and analyze a normal day of work. Consider the activities that make you waste time and procrastinate.
If you keep checking your personal email and social media accounts, you won't be able to focus on your work and get things done in a timely matter. Don't do anything else until you're on break.
7. Hire a freelancer
If you’re super busy and you’ve got too much on your plate, a freelancer might be able to help. Freelancers can help take some projects or tasks off your plate, so you’re spending less time doing those tasks and more time just monitoring them. They can assist with one-off administrative or personal tasks or a business project (you can hire a freelancer here). Someone once said that you have to work smarter, not harder. And we couldn't agree more