I must admit I love a good list, but sometimes writing tasks down just isn’t enough when it comes to getting things done on time. Adding more hours to the day would be the best solution, but seeing as that’s impossible, here are the best ways to stop the hours from slipping from your fingers.
- Find out where time escapes you
Keep a diary of every single thing you do for a week and how long each tasks takes you so you are forced to pay attention to where your time goes. Doing this for a week will be eye-opening, to say the least (I spend how long on Instagram every morning?). Once you find out where time escapes you, you may find you replace it with a more proactive task.
2. Pick your top three
Work is not finite, so creating an endless to do list will more likely overwhelm you than inspire you to be productive. Instead of thinking about the fifty things listed, pick the top three that are most important or critical. Take a less-is-more approach to your to-do list by only focusing on accomplishing things that matter. This allows you to devote more energy and focus into completing these tasks, than completing 10 task half-heartedly.
3. Pencil in white space
Back to back meetings with no breaks in between doesn’t leave any wiggle room if one runs overtime. To prevent this, try scheduling 45-minute meetings, but block out an hour in your diary. This way you can summarise what’s just happened, just a few emails if necessary, and prepare for the next item on your agenda.
4. Learn to say “no”
Learning to say no to people’s requests may be an obvious time management tip, but what we don’t always realise is that when we say yes too much, people also get disappointed because we can’t do our best when we’re spread too thin. That’s why it’s important to look at your priorities and only agree to the things you know you can accomplish. After all, it’s better to say no than over-promise and not deliver.
5. Master a morning ritual
Use your mornings to focus on yourself. For me, getting up around 5.00am means no kids yelling, no babies crying and no television noise. I truly relish that time of peace and the time to myself, when I can squeeze in either a 30-minute brisk walk, have breakfast and a cup of tea (whilst it’s still hot), and plan my day before I start looking after everyone else. Of course, our days vary quite a bit with activities, especially if you have kids, however making the most of the morning hours goes a long way toward a productive and relatively stress-free day.
Regardless of what time you wake, start your day out right by ignoring your emails and getting in a good breakfast, meditating, read the news, or working out. This will ensure you’ve got the necessary fuel for a productive day. Not convinced? See what a difference an extra 30 minutes can make to your morning.
Talkback: What time-management methods have helped you combine your career with an outside life?