People often ask me how I manage my time. How did I find time to read 40 books last year? How do I have time to juggle a full time job and pick up an additional side gig? How do I keep up with my friends and cook almost every day? How do I find time to follow my favorite TV shows? Admittedly, most days I feel like I could really use another 10 hours to the week. I’m perpetually looking for ways to improve how I can really maximize my time and be productive. Despite my struggles, I have noticed these 7 little strategies have made a huge difference in managing my schedule. I hope you find some of these helpful!
7 Ways to Better Manage Your Time
1. Set a timer
Ever taken a five minute break that ended up being an hour? Or closed your eyes for 10 minutes and then woke up 3 hours later? I lose track of time so easily when left on my own. Timers help me regulate my breaks and keep me on task. If I feel like I need a 10 minute break, I will set an alarm. If I want to allot 30 minutes to cleaning, I will set a timer for that too. This eliminates my having to watch the clock and therefore helps me focus.
2. Procrastinate productively
I usually keep my plate really full and not everything on my plate are things I’m dying to get done. What I do to indulge the procrastinator in me is to do something productive when I’m avoding a task. For instance, maybe I need to call the electric company but I want to avoid being put on hold for so long. If I were to procrastinate this task, I might pick something else that I need to get done but isn’t making me feel like hiding. So though I’m am procrastinating one task, I’m still tackling things that are on my general list of to dos.
3. Meal Plan
Planning your meals eliminates multiple trips to the grocery store and temptations to be lazy and eat out.
Things to consider when meal planning:
- Keep an electronic and searchable record of recipes you love. If you have a surplus of chicken in the fridge, you can do a quick seach in your personal record for “chicken.”
Keep an online calendar of your meal plans. Eventually your backlog can serve as useful templates.
- Plan your meals so you use up all your groceries. For instance, if a recipe calls for a few teaspoons of fresh cilantro, I would plan for a few more recipes that could help use down the bunch of cilantro.
4. Write things down
Write things down in your journals, in your to do lists, in your calendar. The more often you say out loud or write down your intentions, the more imprinted they are in your memory, thus making it easier for you to spot opportunities. Often when I journal, I write down my desires and dreams. It keeps my priorities simmering on the back burner so that when I get an email from an airline about flights to Seattle being on sale, I’m more likely to pause and say, “OH MY GOD, I’VE BEEN WANTING TO GO TO SEATTLE!” Your memory needs help. On that same note, keep a calendar of your appointments. I love Google Calendar because I can have it text me my appointments.
5. Be prepared for pockets of free time
Waiting for the water to boil? Stick some clothes in the wash. Waiting for your doctor’s appointment to start? Write a few thank you notes or read that book you’ve been meaning to read. You have an hour long commute from work? Schedule a phone date with an old friend or listen to an audio book.
6. Schedule some fun activities
Constant productivity can lead to a fast burn out. Have a seat. Breathe. Watch your favorite TV show. As I was scurrying around these last two months trying to keep my head above water, I did take a few scheduled time outs. I would sit with Alan and watch a documentary or one of our shows. I scheduled a few meals with my girlfriends. These pockets of connecting with loved ones helped me keep my sanity.
This one can be a doozy. Always keep in mind what your big goals are and what you want out of your life. This may help you decide between playing a full day’s worth of video games or cutting it short with XBox so you can connect with your loved ones.
Question: What helps you manage your time?