“You’ve got to know what you want. This is central to acting on your intentions. When you know what you want, you realise that all there is left then is time management. You’ll manage your time to achieve your goals because you clearly know what you’re trying to achieve in your life”.
My Views on Time Management
Life can get pretty crazy sometimes, we have so much to do in our lives but only ever have 24 hours in a day… Sometimes this seems almost impossible and in my experience is not easily achievable unless you manage your time well.
We need to plan our time carefully, so that we can keep balance in our life and be happy whilst keeping on top of our responsibilities and achieving our goals. So we can be productive at work and at home, reach deadlines and for things to run smoothly.
So how do we do all this? Well I am certainly not an expert in time management but with 2 young kids, one who keeps us on our toes medically (she has congenital heart disease and other medical issues) a partner who works away a month at a time and now taking on full time study and this blog, I have a few tips to share with you.
I would like to share with you the benefits of managing your time, my top tips for good time management and my opinion on a good way to set goals properly and in a way that helps you achieve.
Make the most of your 24 hours, don’t waste precious time!
Benefits of Good Time Management
There are a lot of great benefits to managing your time, whether you are a 9-5 working person, a stay at home parent or a student, planning your time well is so important. Here is what time management can help improve in your life:
- Lower stress levels
- Increased productivity
- Improved work-life balance
- Better work quality
- More free time
- Increased feelings of accomplishment
- Your days feel smoother
- Lower chances of having to redo work
- Less wasted time
- Less effort – the better your time management and routine are and the more these become habit, the less effort you will have to make with your every day tasks
My Time Management Tips
1. Remove distractions – social media, notifications, phones, people, emails. These are all distractions that stop you from focusing on the task at hand. Remove these distractions BEFORE you start a new task so you aren’t distracted. Spend 10 minutes turning off all the unnecessary notifications on your phone, leave it in another room, close your emails, shut your office door and focus on your task.
2. Focus on one task at a time – don’t try to multitask, work on one thing at a time. You will find that you complete more tasks and the quality of your work will be better. Trying to complete a report whilst talking on the phone about something else, or flicking back and forth between different reports that aren’t completed will just make things harder.
3. Learn to say no – as I have already mentioned, we only have 24 hours in the day. Don’t over commit if your time is already spread thin. Learn to politely decline what is not a priority so you don’t lose time or burn out. It is OK to say no, it can be very difficult in the beginning but it does get easier with time. Trust me, I spent almost 2 years with a chronic illness that meant standing was too much. Know your limits and don’t push them. Over committing will eventually lead to burn out!
4. Be organised – you can’t expect to manage time well if you are not organised, you need to organise your meals, your clothes, your housework etc all in advance so you aren’t caught out in the morning with no clean clothes or you find yourself visiting the shop every day because you have forgotten something you need for dinner.
5. Plan ahead – if you can plan something ahead of time… do it. If you have a clear plan before the day starts you won’t waste time wondering what you need to do or how you can do it. I personally plan my whole week on a whiteboard planner so that I know before the it starts everything that’s happening in that week.
6. Learn how to best prioritise – it’s important to know how to prioritise. Personally, I prefer to group my priorities into areas of my life like family, work, housework, study etc. Then I can see how much I have for each area and know how much I need to achieve. This helps me to be ruthless with prioritising, so the important things are always done first.
7. Don’t plan every minute of the day – we all need to take a moment between tasks, it’s not healthy to just be on the go constantly and to plan every minute of the day with work. Allow a little wriggle room between tasks so you have down time and you don’t feel too under pressure.
8. Learn how to set goals properly – it’s really important when setting goals to do it right, it’s all well and good to write down some things that you want in your life but without properly going through each goal, it’s just that, a thing written down.
- Write down your GOAL, be as specific as you possibly can and be realistic. Your goals must be achievable.
- Write down your REASONS for setting this goal, what is motivating you to want to achieve your goal.
- Write down what the OUTCOME will be when you achieve it. How would you feel, what would be different, how would your life look.
- Write down HOW you plan to achieve the goal. Be specific, a goal without a plan is just something you can dream about. Set some actions to get you toward your goal.
- Write down WHEN you plan to achieve your goal, give yourself an attainable time frame. Be specific, say in weeks, months, years but don’t make it too hard to reach.
Here is an example:
GOAL: To lose 20kg’s
REASONS: to look better, to be healthier, to become fit, to run around after my kids, to play sport again, to feel good in my own clothes.
OUTCOME: 20kg’s lighter, happier, healthier, better parent, easier life, better self-esteem, able to dress and feel confident, can play sport again.
HOW: by eating a healthy, balanced diet, not buying take away, stop drinking soda and committing to going for a walk with the dog for at least 30 minutes each day.
WHEN: By the start of next summer, this gives me 10 months to achieve my goal. I will aim to lose 2 kg’s per month.
This is just an example, your goals can be made even more specific.
I truly believe this process is crucial to really achieving anything. Display your goals somewhere you can see at least daily. I like to have them on a vision board on my desk and on the bathroom mirror.
9. Try to work out how much time a task will take – this one can be tricky but estimate the time it takes for each task, I tend to always over estimate so that I allow enough time to complete the task and if I am finished early I can use that time to complete something else on my list.
10. Use time management tools – there are loads of time management tools you can try, there are apps and calendars and websites that provide just about anything you could need for your phone or computer.
Personally, I really enjoy and find it easier to write down everything. So I use a whiteboard planner, a diary, a meal planner, physical shopping list etc. I do use my phone for an awesome list app called WonderList and make use of the reminder system for super important appointments.
11. Practice time management every day – there is no point in planning your week and then not using that plan, I personally have my planner set for the week and then each day I spent 10 minutes morning and night “practising” time management. Here’s what I do:
- Each night I check the planner, write my to do list and organise everything I need for the following day for myself and the kids, this includes, clothes, shoes, bags, lunches etc. I do this because my mornings are very busy, and this keeps things running smoothly. Also, I struggle to sleep if I haven’t planned for the next day as I feel like I might have forgotten something.
- Each morning, I check my to do list, add anything if necessary and ensure I have everything I need before I leave the house. I also tick off tasks as I complete them throughout the day to keep track of where I am up to and make sure I am doing things as I planned. This is particularly helpful as a mum because I group things I need to do in the same place so I am not driving all over town and wasting time, if I can drop my daughter to ballet and run an errand that’s close by then that’s saving time and money.
12. Audit your time management
A great way to see if you time is being spent effectively is to take a look at 7 whole days, take note of what you complete, how much time you spent doing tasks and if you are completing the most important things on your lists first. When doing this I also suggest noting how much screen time you have had, you can do this easily on iPhone now with the screen time setting but also note TV time or computer games etc.
I don’t like to admit this but last year I realised that I was spending in excess of 30 hours on my phone. Now some of that time was constructive and necessary but the breakdown showed me that A LOT of that time was spent surfing social media and playing games. This is another reason I decided to start this blog and go back to studying, I needed something constructive to focus on.
13. Spend your mornings on MIT’s
Research seems to indicate that mid to late morning is the best time to focus on those MIT’s or Most Important Tasks, so make sure you prioritise well and do those first thing as this is the time you will be the most productive too. Your brains alertness and peak productivity is the best time to focus on those high priority tasks.
14. Turn tasks into habits
Turning tasks in to habits is a great way to manage time, your body gets used to a task if you do it regularly and in the same way so you can run through them on auto pilot and not have to spend a lot of time thinking about what to do, how to do it etc. The best way to do this is to set your plan and write a checklist of the things you need to do to complete that particular task, then you just continue to repeat that same checklist every time. Eventually the process will be easier and you won’t need to think about it.
Turning tasks like exercise, meal planning and prepping, meditation and relaxation is a great way to create good habits in your life and are important self care strategies. Any task you can turn into a habit will save you time and make it easier to complete.
When you first start at the gym it feels hard to motivate yourself to go each day, eventually it just becomes part of your routine, a habit and you don’t think about how hard it is or what you have to do. You just go, workout and get on with your day.
15. Don’t waste time waiting
We have so many opportunities to use time effectively, when you are in a waiting room or on the bus to work, in a taxi on your way to a meeting, don’t waste the time. Use it positively, whether that’s to write some notes, schedule some meetings, get back to some emails or to complete a quick 10-minute meditation or breathing exercise. Use the time wisely.
16. Ditch perfectionism
No one is perfect, striving for perfection is not realistic. Don’t keep going back over your tasks to perfect them, you are wasting time and will become less productive, focus on the one task, don’t rush, do what you need to, check it over ONCE and move on. Perfectionism kills productivity!
Lets finish up
There you have it, my 16 tips on time management, now you know a little about how I use time management why not take a look at your life and see where these kinds of improvements might benefit you. Take a good hard look at how your time is being spent and think about all the extra things you could complete with better planning.
Set yourself some goals to spend less time surfing social media or procrastinating about those jobs that you haven’t completed and more time checking things off your list, living more, working less and enjoying life!
I will leave you with one of my favourite quotes about time, it’s short and sweet!
“You may delay, but time will not”.