Have you ever had this experience before? You have so much to do, but there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything you want to do.
Then, you’re left wondering how you can get more out of your time – in less time, without sacrificing your quality of life. Maybe even without overworking or sacrificing your lifestyle. If so, it’s not your fault; our modern world has made it difficult to achieve any kind of balance in life and still be productive enough to accomplish what needs to be done.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but it seems like everyone else is getting more out of their time than you are. Do you ever feel like you’re working your butt off and not getting anywhere?
In this post on time management without overworking or sacrificing your lifestyle, I’ll show you how to manage your time better so that you can achieve your goals and live the life you’ve always wanted. Read on to learn about time management, productivity hacks, and tips for achieving more with less stress!
Table of Contents
- What Is Time Management?
- Time Management Starts With You.
- Become More Mindful Of Time
- Designate Times For Tasks You Don’t Enjoy Doing
- Create A Schedule
- Prioritize Tasks By Importance
- Avoid Time Wasters
- Use Technology To Manage Your Time Efficiently
- Know When You Can Say No
- What Can I Do To Manage My Time Better?
What Is Time Management?
The purpose of time management is ultimately to have more free time for yourself and other things. There are many techniques and strategies which you can use. Perhaps one of them would be a perfect fit for you.
Maybe several methods will help you achieve what you aim for in life, whether it’s spending more quality time with your family, having ample vacation or personal days off work, learning how to start a new business while still working full-time, etc.
It all depends on what YOU want out of life and how much YOU are willing to commit yourself to achieve that goal.
Time Management Starts With You.
You can’t manage time if you can’t manage yourself. It would help if you had a clear sense of who you are, what your life is about, and what goals matter most to you.
Once you understand yourself better, start working smarter: It doesn’t take long before we realize we aren’t machines; we aren’t wired to work 24/7 without breaks or downtime, and that’s where effective time management has to come into play.
The most important part of managing your time is understanding that you are in control. That’s right; you decide how you manage yourself, how many hours of sleep you get, how much leisure and entertainment there is in your life, etc.
It might be easy to blame outside factors like work and family obligations for taking up all of our time. Still, when it comes down to it, we can choose our attitude toward these things and make them work for us.
For example, if you hate waking up early every morning to go to work, then find a way to change it so that you don’t have to do so anymore. If you’re constantly late for meetings because of traffic jams, find an alternative route or carpool with someone else who lives close by.
Do you see where I’m going with this? We always have a choice on how we react and respond to situations and circumstances, so why not use that power wisely?
Time management as has been defined as the act of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency, or productivity. This means that in order to manage your time effectively, you must first know what you want out of life.
What goals do you have? What dreams would you like to achieve? Once you know what it is that drives and motivates you, then everything else becomes easier.
When faced with decisions about whether or not something should take priority over another task, ask yourself: Will doing X help me reach my goal/dream faster than doing Y? If yes, then do X! Life doesn’t happen overnight, so don’t expect massive changes overnight either. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Become More Mindful Of Time
It’s nearly impossible to be efficient with your time if you don’t know where it’s going. The first step in becoming more efficient is figuring out how you spend every second of your day and then prioritizing how you want to use that time.
This can be as simple as writing down where and when you go about doing things, but it can also mean keeping a log on paper (or in Evernote) for a week or so. When you become more mindful about how you use and allocate your time, it becomes easier to identify those specific activities that are robbing you of valuable moments.
Remember: An hour of wasted productivity is an hour of life lost, never found again! If you want to improve your efficiency, start by identifying what drains your time and energy—and eliminate it from your schedule.
For example, do you find yourself constantly checking social media? If so, block off times during which you won’t allow yourself access to these sites—and stick to them! You may even consider deleting social media apps from your phone altogether—it will force you to focus on what’s happening around you instead of what’s happening online.
Another way to increase efficiency is by being realistic about how much work/life balance really means for you. Don’t set goals that require 60-hour workweeks if they will make you miserable in other areas of life; instead, create boundaries that allow for downtime while still achieving professional success.
Designate Times For Tasks You Don’t Enjoy Doing
Although you might enjoy certain tasks, in most cases, there are certain things that we simply don’t like doing. These things are a part of life, though.
For example, filing taxes may not be anyone’s favorite thing to do during tax season, but it is something that we have to do in order to be responsible for our finances. Even though it’s a task that you don’t necessarily enjoy doing, try setting aside a specific day and time each week for it.
This way, you can easily plan around it and make sure you remember when that day comes around. If you know that it’s going to take an hour out of your schedule on Friday afternoon, then you can always plan accordingly.
So that you won’t end up spending hours trying to find all those receipts because they were scattered throughout different parts of your house. If they are all stored together in one place, then finding them will be much easier.
Avoiding tasks, you don’t enjoy will not make them go away. And if they do, they will often come back at an even more inconvenient time.
The most successful people are able to push through these tasks because they know when and where is best for them to get these things done.
Designate a specific time in your calendar (or on a schedule) each week for things you may not enjoy doing. Then stick with it! This way, you can be sure that these less-than-fun tasks won’t sneak up on you and end up causing stress instead of productivity.
Not only will you get more out of your time by avoiding procrastination, but also by setting aside dedicated times for different activities. You can use one task as a reward for completing another. For example, if I finish my marketing task before noon, I can take some extra time to relax after lunch!
This way, we give ourselves permission to relax when we have completed something else first. We are still working hard; we just aren’t working all day long, every day.
Create A Schedule
Creating a schedule is one of those things you feel like you can’t do until you have more free time, but that’s when it’s most important to get started.
This year, figure out how much time you have for each of your priorities and create a schedule for completing them. Rather than using paper (or even apps), use a dry erase board or whiteboard and place it in your line of sight.
The key is not writing everything down all at once—it’s fitting in little bits of planning throughout each day.
For example, instead of waiting until Sunday night to plan out your week on paper, set aside 10 minutes every morning before you start working to think about what needs to be done that day.
This way, instead of wasting hours creating a weekly schedule on Sunday night and then frantically trying to make changes during the week when something comes up, you’re able to make changes immediately because you’re already thinking about what needs to be done each day.
If you don’t plan ahead by scheduling your days ahead of time, there will always be something else taking priority over what really matters: You!
To plan for what you really want and get it all done effectively, you’re going to need a schedule. As silly as it sounds, schedules help us stay focused on our goals and ensure we allocate enough time for each part of our life.
There are a few different ways you can create a schedule: do-it-yourself spreadsheets; paid apps like Awesome Plan or Learnvest; or team up with an app like RescueTime (which rewards you based on how well you stick to your goals).
Regardless of which one is right for you, remember that planning ahead helps ensure things get done. This doesn’t mean planning everything down to every minute—instead, set priorities and keep moving forward.
It’s also important to realize that flexibility is critical when creating a schedule. Make sure there’s room in your day for just in case moments where something might come up, but you’re able to handle it quickly and easily because you have some wiggle room built into your schedule.
You’ll be surprised at how much more efficient you feel if you don’t stress about fitting everything into place perfectly from day one—you’ll be able to get so much more done if you take care of tasks quickly and then move on.
Prioritize Tasks By Importance
When you’re trying to cram more tasks into a workday, it can feel like everything is important. But if you want to manage your time efficiently, it’s important to prioritize tasks based on their importance.
If a task is unimportant, reschedule it for when you have more available time and energy. Otherwise, save it for another day—or delegate it entirely.
The key here is that every single task should be either important or urgent, and it shouldn’t be both. Remember: You get fulfilled by completing tasks, not by working hours!
So don’t waste time on urgent but unimportant tasks. Instead, do what’s most important first thing in the morning so that you’re free in your afternoons and evenings for family and friends. This way, you’ll have accomplished much while still having plenty of free time outside of work!
Prioritize tasks: Sometimes, we get stuck in a rut, thinking everything has equal importance. But that couldn’t be further from the truth!
When overloaded with work, prioritizing tasks by importance (or urgency) is essential. If a task isn’t necessary for today or in order to achieve a goal, it shouldn’t take up space in your mind and day.
A great way to do that is by creating an urgent/important matrix: List all of your tasks on one side of a piece of paper, then put them into categories like most important, least important, and just urgent.
That way, when you have too much work on your plate, you can focus on knocking out only the most important (or urgent) tasks. It might feel like you’re not getting anything done, but at least everything that matters will get done.
Avoid Time Wasters
Time is one of our most precious resources, it is incredibly valuable and it’s imperative that we don’t waste a second of it.
It helps to know what common traps are out there, where you could be wasting hours upon hours each week.
Make a list of tasks taking up too much of your day: e-mail, phone calls with co-workers, social media, whatever you do during those precious productive hours—and start making some changes!
Instead of watching hours upon hours of television, spend those moments reading great books, hanging out with family and friends, working on side businesses, etc.
You don’t have to eliminate TV altogether; just watch less of it. While watching TV is undoubtedly an enjoyable pastime, there are plenty of other productive ways to use that free time.
All you have to do is commit yourself to using that free time productively (think about how much more fun you’ll have in retirement if you’re not exhausted from all those stressful years)!
Avoid social media: If Facebook is going by too quickly for your liking, log off! As tempting as it may be to constantly check your Facebook feed, resist.
In fact, I recommend deleting it entirely. It will be hard at first, but once you break away from its clutches, you’ll wonder why you ever got hooked in the first place.
The same goes for Twitter and Instagram—and pretty much any other form of social media!
Spend less time doing chores: Chores are inevitable and unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean you should make them last forever! Make sure you get them done efficiently so you can move on to bigger and better things in life.
Don’t check e-mail first thing in the morning; do something more productive (you can make exceptions if a client needs help).
Turn off all notifications on your phone. Shut down your computer an hour before bedtime.
In fact, workers have, according to research, been known to spend an average of two days per year looking for misplaced files, documents, and other items they need for work. That adds up to $650 billion annually!
So clean out your desk at least once a month: toss old documents you no longer need and organize everything else into folders or binders so that everything has its place.
This will not only cut down on wasted time but also save money by cutting down on office supplies costs as well as saving wear and tear on furniture by limiting how often employees have to move things around their desks trying to find things.
These small changes will add up to considerable savings in productivity and efficiency.
Use Technology To Manage Your Time Efficiently
Today’s world is entirely dependent on technology. Although it seems like technology is taking over our lives, it can actually be used to help you manage your time and increase productivity. You need it for pretty much everything, including managing your calendar and keeping track of assignments.
Try online platforms like Evernote or Google Calendar to help manage workloads and make scheduling easier.
These platforms allow you to keep schedules synchronized across all devices, so it’s easy to access from anywhere with an internet connection.
In addition, these programs can be integrated into other business tools, such as Slack and Dropbox. This makes it even easier to share information between friends and colleagues while also ensuring that no details are lost in translation.
If you prefer a more traditional approach, try a paper planner that helps you stay organized by prioritizing tasks by due date and importance—and then stick to it!
By using either method, there will be less guesswork involved when trying to remember what needs to be done and more time left for doing what matters most: getting things done!
Consider apps that can automatically block out times for work or give you notifications about when it’s time for a break. You can also find a tool that lets you block websites that steal away chunks of your day.
Remember: the important thing is making sure you don’t spend so much time on devices that you lose track of what’s happening in real life—and with achieving all of those goals!
A straightforward way to stay focused is by blocking off your time, whether you do it physically on a wall calendar or digitally via an app.
At specific times during each day – such as after breakfast and before dinner – designate them as work hours. This will make them into non-negotiable periods of focus where everything outside of these sessions isn’t worth tackling because they will take up too much energy from your limited supply.
After 5 pm, turn off your screens (or at least filter them if possible), so you can get enough sleep instead of staying up late trying to finish that proposal before tomorrow morning’s meeting.
Know When You Can Say No
You can’t do everything; you simply can’t. Learning how to say no, and, just as importantly, when to say no is a crucial component of successful time management.
If you always say yes, then maybe it’s worth figuring out why you’re so eager for people to like you (and therefore not able to decline invitations).
Remember that no one ever said that they wished they spent more working on their deathbed. This is especially true when it comes down it deciding what activities and opportunities are worthy of your attention.
The truth is there are only 24 hours in a day, and you have fewer than that if you have a demanding (managerial) job. In order to be successful with time management, you need to know when it’s appropriate to say no.
When you’re under a lot of pressure at work or in a gathering, it can be challenging to say no. You want to make sure that you don’t give yourself away as someone who doesn’t get it done.
However, if you end up agreeing to everything asked of you and working ridiculous hours, it won’t help anyone in the long run.
Instead, look for ways that you can control a situation while also assisting others to see their importance. Say something like: While I would love to be able to do that by next week, I have too much going on right now. Is there another way we could accomplish what we need? Hopefully, they will think about other options so both of you can succeed.
You can’t be everything to everyone. And that’s OK. Set boundaries and decide what you will and won’t work on professionally. This doesn’t mean you need to turn down every project that comes your way, but it does mean being strategic about how you spend your time and focusing on a few key projects at a time rather than trying to bite off more than you can chew at once.
You want clients/businesses that fit well with who you are and what motivates you—don’t let them become so numerous that they cause stress instead of adding value in life!
It helps if you build systems for yourself, so less organizational upkeep is required. For example, use an online calendar system like Google Calendar to keep track of all your appointments (including social events).
The more organized you are, the easier it will be to say no when something doesn’t align with your goals.
How Do I Know When I Should Say No? How do you know when you should say no? If it doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it.
Your gut instinct will always tell you whether something feels right or not. When deciding whether to take on a new client/project/job opportunity, ask yourself: Is taking on more going to add value to my life? Will it make me happy? Will it help me achieve my long-term goals? Or am I just doing it because I think someone else wants me to do it?
We’ve used a work setup to explain how and when to say no; but this can also be applied to every other setting: home, gatherings etc.
What Can I Do To Manage My Time Better?
What Can I Do To Manage My Time Better? Time management boils down to two things: priorities and habits.
Start by thinking about your ideal future self. The person you’d like to be, doing what you’d like to do. Maybe it’s a bigger house, a set of golf clubs, retirement at 45—whatever it is that you want from life, think about what things will make you happy along those lines.
For example: For me to retire when I am 45 years old and have $10 million in my savings account, I need to earn an average of $5 million a year for each of these remaining ten years and invest that money at an average annual rate of 5%. So on and so forth—you get where I am going with this, right?
Now take all of those goals and write them down in priority order. Write down how much money you need to save up, how many hours per week you need to work (or how many hours per day), how much sleep you are willing to sacrifice, etc…
This should give you a good idea of what exactly needs to happen for your goals/dreams/aspirations to come true.
Now go back through each of these goals/dreams/aspirations and figure out which ones are most important. Which ones can wait until later? Which ones can be sacrificed if necessary? What changes do I need to make now if I want any chance at achieving them later on down the road? Do I need to change jobs? Do I need to move into a new apartment? Do I need to quit drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes?
Whatever it is, decide now. Once you’ve done that, create three columns titled: Today, Tomorrow, and This Week.
Under each column, list everything you want to accomplish today, tomorrow, and during the week, respectively.
Next, list how long each task will take. If you don’t know how long something will take, just estimate based on past experience.
Ensure that each item listed under today can be accomplished within 8 hours of waking up in the morning. If not, break some tasks down into smaller chunks and adjust accordingly.
Make sure to leave time for personal hygiene, eating meals, and sleeping too! If you have any extra time after finishing all of your Today tasks, consider moving some of those tasks into tomorrow.
Finally, add anything else to This Week that didn’t fit anywhere else but still needs to get done within the next seven days.
That’s it! You’re done! Congratulations!