Why is it that no matter how organised I think I am with timetables, to do lists, reminders, diaries and calendars all around me, I still always run out of time? I am permanently at least 10 minutes late for everything and NEVER complete all the tasks I have set myself for that day never mind the week. I find this VERY frustrating! My Mum says it’s because I always try to fit too many things into one day. My Dad says it’s because my concept of how long a task will take is way out. I blame this awful necessity of having to go to work at Pizza Hut in the evenings.
The age old, very true saying, time just flies when you’re having fun
Like many others I am often heard bemoaning the lack of hours in a day. Even now that I only work 4 evenings a week it is a constant struggle to prioritise which tasks must be done and then fit in the never ending list of things I want to do around that. This is a problem I know I am not alone in struggling with. In my constant search for a solution I have tried to identify where the time is lost. Here are a few mistakes I think we are all guilty of, be honest with yourself here, I bet you are guilty of at least 2 of them!
- The No.1 biggest time waster ever has to be ……………… Facebook!
- Staring mindlessly at rubbish TV
- Playing games on your phone, or any other device for that matter
- Looking for lost items e.g phone, keys, glasses
- Talking on the phone
- Staying up late for no reason, then sleeping all morning
- General faffing
A few of these things I understand are enjoyable activities and undoubtedly we all need our down time. The trick is to factor in quality time for that AFTER the important tasks for that day have been completed. It infact makes the downtime more enjoyable as you feel like you’ve earnt it and can truly relax feeling content instead of anxious.
In a bid to help us all enjoy this elusive contented relaxing time I have trawled the internet and combined this with my own experience (I do succeed in fitting more into a day than the average person) to compile a top tip list for us all.
1 – Before the start of each week, ideally on a Sunday night, make a PLAN. This can be a To do list, daily planner or a fully scheduled week planner. The idea is to put down in writing what you want to accomplish that week.
2 – Prioritise your most important tasks at the start of the week. If possible aim to work on the more difficult areas at the beginning of the day when your likely to be at your most motivated. Hopefully they are then out of the way before other distractions pop up.
3 – Schedule in time to rest and do fun things. A tired mind is an unproductive one. Reward yourself for getting tasks done so that you stay fresh and motivated.
4 – Build good habits. Try to have a place where you put things as soon as you walk in the door. If everything has a place and you repeatedly carry out that same process, after a couple of weeks it should become an unconscious action. With a little effort to begin with this will reduce so much frustrating time wasted looking for things.
5 – Focus! This is certainly my hardest task! Read any good time efficiency advice website aimed at professional, high flying, career folk and they will condemn the false idea of multi-tasking. How can you do any one task to a high standard if it doesn’t have your full attention? Better to focus and do one job well and in less time then move onto the next. The other great focus hack is to remove all distractions such as your phone, switch off the TV/Radio, shut the door, close all other tabs, switch off notifications and concentrate fully on 1 task at a time.
“If I had 6 hours to chop down a tree, I would spend 4 hours sharpening the axe ” quote by Abraham Lincoln
6 – Be organised by preparing things in advance. Try to take 10 minutes at the end of every day to prepare for the following one. This can be as simple as laying your clothes out for the following morning, packing your work and/or gym bag, making a packed lunch or laying out your desk. Think ahead instead of leaving all the little things to the last minute like I do and then panicking because I’m late…………again!
7 – Set time limits for each activity of the day. Spend 3 days making notes of how long you spend doing each thing and you will be amazed to see how much time you waste. So setting time limits may sound fanatical but when you see the results you won’t really care!
8 – Target to be early. If you aim to be somewhere ten minutes before you need to be, chances are that you will be on time. For really important tasks set a 15 minute reminder.
9 – Learn to say NO! Realise that you can’t please everyone and do everything. Keep your own priorities in mind and the importance of a healthy work/fun/rest life balance. If no is not possible defer the request to a later point when you do have time available.
10 – Batch things. When planning your day/week try to look at what tasks can be carried out together to be more efficient. For examples could you do all your errands in one morning? Cook meals that can be eaten for several days. Have a time set aside when you check all your emails in one go. All the ten minutes you save add up!
At the end of the day no-one is perfect and time management is likely to be something we will all struggle with until the day we retire and probably beyond. The way I look at it though, we only have one life and I would like to maximise the time I have by living mine to the full, fitting in as many fun adventures as I possibly can. If putting in a little effort to learn better time efficiency means an extra afternoon out playing on my bike I am more than willing to make that sacrifice. Facebook – get gone!