We realize our dilemma goes deeper than shortage of time;
it is basically a problem of priorities.
We confess, we have left undone those things that ought to have done;
and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.
(Charles E. Hummel)
How do you organize your time? Do you set daily goals and write to-do lists? Do you multitask or focus on one thing before moving onto the next?
My approach to time management is a balancing act between priorities, resources, and energy. First, I focus on the things (and people) that matter most. Then, I gather what I need to complete the task at hand. Finally, I work on things that require energy when I’m feeling rested and ready.
This strategy works about 80% of the time. There are days when I’m a productivity machine, and other times when it seems like I’m not getting anything done. I have been working on eliminating distractions and planning for downtime. This has helped me stay focused, and cleared time for relaxation.
Try these six ideas for improving your time management:
1. Consider your mission
Give yourself 2 minutes in the morning before getting wrapped up in today’s to-do list. Think about your mission. What do you want to accomplish? How will your actions bring you closer to your long-term goals?
2. Manage incoming messages
If email newsletters and subscriptions have taken over your inbox, check out Unroll.me. It’s an online service that helps you unsubscribe from the things you don’t want to read, and it “rolls up” the rest into a single email. This allows me to focus on the things I want to read, while filtering out the rest.
3. Adopt a new mindset
Some people take on too much and have unrealistic expectations about what they can do in a day. I’m definitely part of this category – and I’ve been working to reframe my mindset. Rather than thinking I can do everything on my list, I am trying to “under promise” and focus on a few things. That way, I leave room to surprise myself if I “over deliver”.
4. Plan downtime
Planning a lunch with friends can help you be more productive when you get back to work. Schedule downtime, whether with family or alone, to recharge your batteries. This important element of self-care also plays into effective time management. Double win!
5. Read 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam
Just like it can be helpful to adopt a new mindset, reading a good book can inspire helpful change. Laura Vanderkam looks at time management on a weekly basis, rather than the day-by-day approach that so many of us take. When you think about how you want to spend your 168 hours, it might open your mind to new possibilities. She also suggests that you log your time for a week to see if you’re spending too much time on one thing.
6. Cross something off your to-do list
When all else fails, it feels good to cross a few things off your to-do list. Have you ever thought about crossing something off that you have not done? Try it! I bet there’s at least one thing that you’ve been “meaning to do” that doesn’t align with your mission (see point 1). Just cross it off your list! If it’s important, you will find it back on your list down the road.
Image via Death to the Stock Photo