The New Year is always a great opportunity to make changes. Is managing your time a daily challenge? Whether you are running a household or a home business or you're working from home or office, it’s easy to feel frustrated at the end of the day when you are exhausted and feel that you haven’t accomplished all that you set out to do. Consider actions, patterns, and habits that may not be benefiting you when it comes to managing your time. Be aware of what is consuming and/or wasting your time. Also, take a close look at what may be derailing your productivity. Making some small positive changes can result in big benefits. Here are some tips that can help.
Your To-Do List
Is it realistic? It’s OK to have a sizable list as long as you prioritize each item. Make time for the must-do items first, but be mindful that there are only so many hours in the day. It's important to keep it real. Make note of what you’ve started, even if it’s not complete. Cross off or highlight what you’ve accomplished. You might realize you are more efficient than you think. Remember, even the smallest of tasks can create a distraction or negative self-talk. If you are thinking about it, it must be important, so take note.
Tools to Organize Your Time
Whether you're using a smartphone, spreadsheet, pen, and paper, sticky notes, or a combination of tools, figure out the best method for you to keep track of and organize your tasks and priorities.
Re-Evaluate Your Priorities Each Day
Ask yourself if some of the items on your list are truly a priority, or if some are obligations that you can shift to be of less priority. Try to be proactive by looking ahead and balancing your schedule. Consider rescheduling flexible meetings, lunches, or appointments like the dentist or certain self-care sessions when you know you are going to be overbooked.
The Big Stuff
If you’ve got a large project or task, tackle it at a time when you know you are most productive and can limit distractions. For some, all-out attack mode is the way to go. For those who feel overwhelmed, breaking tasks out into manageable pieces to chip away at over a period of time works best.
Set up your home or work environment to maximize your focus. You may find that something as simple as headphones can help cut distractions at work. Avoid texting or checking email and social media until you have completed the task in front of you. Communicate with your family or co-workers about what you are working on and its importance. You might even get a little unexpected support!
Be Aware of Non-Productive Behavior
Procrastination can lead to wasted time. If you are procrastinating about a task, fill the time with other things on your list until you are ready to commit, then block out another time and stick to it.
Take Planned Breaks
Walking away from a project or task for 10 or 15 minutes can help you see it with fresh eyes and a new focus. If it’s helpful, get input or feedback before proceeding.
Keep Energy Levels Up
You've heard it before, but drinking plenty of water and eating healthy during the day really can help keep up your focus and energy. Too much caffeine and sugar can crash your energy. If you are tired all the time, try getting a little more sleep. Changing sleep patterns can be very difficult. Start by adding 15 minutes per night. Increase the time until you notice you are feeling more alert and well-rested.
If you are losing time daily looking for files, phone extensions, car keys, and so on, take the time to create a system that works for you. You’ll be amazed how much time, and frustration, you’ll save in the long run.
Be Positive and Flexible
If you have been working hard on a project, plan, or event, and it gets derailed or even canceled, move on. Keep your perspective and know that your effort is never wasted.
The goal is not to get as much done in a day as possible, but to be efficient and have a happy, balanced life. Remember, it takes time and repetition to effectively replace old habits. Positive changes happen when we realize our efforts are worth taking the time to appreciate.