Who doesn’t want to make better use of their time? We all have those silent time suckers that we don’t really think about, but all of us waste time every day. How can you can get a handle on it? Here are some tips for you to make better use of your time and stop the time suckers.
It may sound boring, but you really have to set some goals for yourself first. Even if you start at a high level (more time with family, more exercise, etc.), just writing down some goals will give you a good start. Pick one and then break it down until you get to a daily goal. Start with one at a time for best results.
Most of us have a general idea of how much time we spend every day on regular tasks. Would you be surprised to find out that we are usually way off? We tend to think smaller tasks take longer, and generally underestimate how long it really takes for larger tasks. It really helps if you can get some accurate data around the actual time you spend doing things. Jot down how long your regular tasks are taking you to accomplish. Do this daily for about a week. You may be surprised that washing dishes doesn’t take as long as you thought, but making your shopping list takes much longer. Once you have a better idea of how time is being spent, you can budget your time and plan accordingly.
You can start making a plan for daily, weekly or monthly tasks. Use a paper or electronic calendar- whatever will work for you. You don’t have to stick to a strict schedule, but you want to have a general and realistic plan of what you can get done in set amount of time. If you think of something when you are running around, jot it down or put it in your phone so you can remember later and schedule time for it. You want to be flexible, but try to set a realistic start time that you can stick to- that way the rest of your day won’t be so pinched.
Even though it can be hard, you can learn how to prioritize. We tend to think every task is important and must be done right away. This is not possible. We can’t do everything at once.
Start with eliminating things you really don’t have to do. There are some things, such as paying bills or buying groceries, that we absolutely have to do. Set your priorities and work on the big things that MUST get done. The next layer would be important items that you have some time to work on. Do a little at a time and enjoy the moments when you accomplish something!
Don’t get stuck doing everything that anyone asks of you. Ask yourself if doing something is a good use of your time. Spend time with your family and friends instead of organizing the pantry. Don’t feel pressured to do everything! Also, ask for help if you need it and lessen the burden that is on your shoulders.
If you find yourself with a spare 10 minutes, think about 1 item you can knock off your list. It may be tempting to check your email again, but just do 1 thing and then allow yourself more time to relax at the end of the day. Also, if you find that you allotted 30 minutes for an item and it takes longer, just stop for the day and reschedule another time to finish the work. The next time you have to tackle the same task, just allow the more realistic time.
Make sure you allow time for breaks during the day, especially lunch or dinner. Whether you are at home, or in an office, you must have time to step away for a little bit. We are all tempted to just keep on working sometimes, but that does more harm than good. Recharging your mind will do a world of good for you and help your productivity when you resume working.
Reward yourself (reasonably, of course!) for a job well done. Schedule your free time for the weekend or even a mini-vacation. It is really important to have something to look forward to that you really will enjoy. A lunch with friends or movies with the family are both some fun things you can fit in.
To recap, be realistic and keep track of things you have to do. You can still have some flexibility, since over structuring is not really good, either. Once you have your goals and schedules you will find that you are using your time more wisely and put an end to all those time suckers!