Do you often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done? You’re not alone. It seems like we are always busy, but busy doesn’t always equal productive.
If you do a quick Google search on “Time Management Tips” you’ll find a plethora of information about how to be more efficient along with an overwhelming amount of tools to manage your time. Despite all of these resources, we continue to feel the effects of burnout, and seem to be constantly chasing the completion of our never ending to-do lists.
Time Management is a misnomer. It’s impossible to manage time. Time is going to tick away whether we want it to or not. It doesn’t slow down or speed up, although sometimes it feels like it does (that vacation that flew by or the seconds ticking away until 5pm on Friday).
A better approach is to think of time management as self management. What steps can you take to make better use of your time, and feel more productive? Here are some tips for practicing self management:
Set Goals: we are constantly setting SMART goals in business (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound), and it’s important to apply the same methodology to our own goals. Set short (quarterly), medium (yearly) and long term (3-5 years) goals to avoid feeling overwhelmed on a daily or monthly basis.
Prioritize:this means both personally and professionally. Priorities will vary from person to person but we all have our non negotiables. Is breaking a sweat every day a priority for you but you don’t seem to ever find the time to do it? Schedule it on your calendar as you would any other important meeting and work around it.
To-Do Lists:have daily to-do lists but don’t let them get out of hand. Keep them short – quality over quantity is the name of the game. Write out your tasks for the next day at night when you go to bed to get them out of your mind and onto paper for a more restful night of sleep. At the end of the day or week, don’t focus on the things you DIDN’T complete, and recap all of the things you DID accomplish. Give yourself a pat on the back!
Delegate or Outsource:this can be a scary and difficult thing to do but it’s important to learn when to hand off tasks to someone else when necessary. This not only frees up your own time, but it empowers the other person who will feel honored that you entrusted them with the task. If you have specialized services that you can outsource to a subject matter expert for a cost, by all means do it. Learn the value of your time and eliminate the tasks that don’t fit.
Set Boundaries: are you a people pleaser and want to make sure you’re available at any given moment? This is a great quality to have, until it starts to take a toll. If you are consistently getting pulled in every direction because of other people’s needs, your bandwidth will be whittled away to nothing. It’s ok to set boundaries and not reply to that email at 11 o’clock at night.
Learn to say no: along the same lines as setting boundaries, learning how to say no when necessary is crucial. Saying no to things that will take up your time unnecessarily is not a negative thing. Saying yes to the wrong things at the wrong time can be detrimental to not only yourself, but to the person asking.
Use Tools: Choose the right tools that will work for YOU. If you aren’t too tech savvy and learning a new tool or software will just take time and frustrate you, use notebooks, whiteboards, appointment books or whatever else suits your personality. If you are a tech lover, there are many tools you can utilize to help free up your time and keep you organized. Online calendars like iCal or Google Calendar, time tracking apps like Monday, task management apps like Wunderlist, to name a few. Whatever tools you decide to use, make sure they free up your time, and don’t waste your time making your life more complicated.
Be Kind To Yourself: most importantly, don’t try to be perfect or conquer the world in one day. As the saying goes “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Take time for yourself, take time to spend with family and friends, and do the things you are passionate about. Because when we are fulfilled and happy, we’re more motivated, and therefore more productive.
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