It can be hard to focus or get anything done when we juggle busy lives and have infinite to-do lists. Effective time management is a skill I wish we learned more about in school. We are expected to just know how to do this in order to thrive. Use these tips to make the most out of your time.
- Prioritize based on importance and urgency
When there are many different tasks that need your attention, write them down and then number them based on priority. There will be things you need to do right away and others that can wait until you can tend to them. Keep in mind the amount of time you need to spend on these tasks, too. For example, you can tackle several 5-10 minute things in a small amount of time, but will need to account for hours for others.
- Use a planner
There are so many options for choosing how to organize yourself this day in age. You may prefer an actual paper planner or an online method or a bulletin board, etc. Whatever you choose, plan to use it regularly and consistently. If you’ve never used a planner before, there will be an adjustment period but it will be worthy. Write down your goals and give yourself deadlines, even for tasks that you don’t have a precise deadline for. Having an end date/time will motivate you that much more when trying to be productive. If you set loose time parameters, you will keep procrastinating, pushing it back, and not holding yourself accountable.
- Batch your work
Task batching grouping similar tasks together and setting aside a time to complete them all or work on them for a determined amount of time. Multi-tasking, despite popular belief, is actually a productivity killer. If you have to send 5 e-mails, make a presentation, and pull up a report, you wouldn’t send 2 e-mails, make 3 slides, and then start the report. You would send all the e-mails, make the presentation, and then the report (the order should be based on priorities, of course). Task batching can allow you to gain a greater sense of focus, as you stick to one type of task at a time.
- Plan for free time and entertainment
Rather than finding free time, plan for this free time. If social media is a distraction, set a timer to dedicate a specific, limited amount of time you can dedicate to scrolling aimlessly. Try to take your lunch break around the same time every day and put away distractions (like your phone and laptop) to really enjoy your break. This may seem counterintuitive, many of us are so used to working through lunch or powering through until everything is done. That leads to fast burnout. Making a plan to relax, meditate, listen to music, or do other things you enjoy is important and will then help you finish all those other tasks.
- Set realistic goals
You don’t want to set yourself up for failure. Reflect on your goals and decide how much you can actually accomplish in a given period of time. You are human, and must be kind to yourself. Nobody has a limitless reserve of energy and to maximize energy, it must be managed. Think: does this align with my overall priorities? Also explore if any tasks can be delegated.