From the moment you hear your phone alarm in the morning, you know that a new slalom of daily tasks begins. Rarely can you say you have enough time to get ready, make breakfast, play with the kids, or cook. And weekends don’t seem like a time to rest either, when, if you have children, the little ones’ energy needs to be used up and you have to deal with the unfinished business of the week.
The importance of time management
The struggle for effective time planning is on the minds of many of us. Whether you want to be as productive as possible at work, improve your work-life balance, or are a team manager looking for ways to improve the performance of your employees, it all starts with time efficiency.
The benefits of time management are countless and all contribute to your overall well-being.
First and foremost, effective time management means less stress. When you know what you have to do and when you can do it, stress is reduced, leaving room for focus and relaxation.
There’s also the concept of planning your time on what’s really important. Instead of spending time on secondary tasks, with good time management, you can redirect that time and devote it to the essentials at work and at home.
In fact, with good time management, you can also reduce the effort you put into the daily tasks you need to complete. This means you can get more done in a day if your time planning is smart and, most importantly, properly focused.
Ultimately, good time management will translate into a better ability to make important decisions. That way you know clearly what you need to do at work and you know how to achieve each goal.
That’s why we’ve prepared some tips to help you get better organized, so you can make the most of the 24 hours in a day, have time for a restful sleep and, why not, a few minutes of pampering for yourself.
Tips for effective time management
1. Find out how you spend your time now
To optimize your time management, you first need to look at what you do during the day. Try writing down for a week what your daily activities are. This will help you:
- Determine how much you can accomplish in a day.
- Identify emergencies
- Focus on activities that are really worth your time
As you go through this time exercise, it will become quite clear how much time you spend having conversations or doing unproductive activities. This exercise can also help you determine the time of day when you are most productive.
2. Prioritize wisely
Prioritization is the key to successful time management both at work and at home. Start by eliminating tasks you shouldn’t be doing in the first place. Then identify three or four more important tasks.
Evaluate your task list and make sure you have organized it according to the importance of a task rather than its urgency. Important responsibilities will help you achieve your goals, while urgent responsibilities require immediate attention and are associated with achieving someone else’s goals.
3. Prepare an evening to-do list for the next day
Every night, before you go to bed, review for 5 minutes what you have planned for the next day. List everything, even the smallest tasks, like paying a bill or a “Happy Birthday” message. This will make sure you don’t forget anything.
Plus, if you notice that the list is too long and you don’t manage to do something, you can reschedule it ahead of time without panicking the next day. When you start the day in the morning, you’ll already know what you have to do and you’ll be able to hit the ground running.
4. Focus on what you need to do
This is one of the easiest time-planning tips at work, but it can be one of the hardest to follow. Focus on the task at hand and stay away from distractions. It can be tempting to multitask, but doing so wastes time and also decreases your productivity when you switch between tasks.
5. Group activities by destination and time
City commuting is extremely unpleasant, especially when traffic wastes a lot of your time. When planning tasks for the next day, try to group them according to the time needed for transport and completion, as well as by area. If the bank is close to the children’s school, put all payments around the time you need to pick them up. That way you won’t make the same trip several times.
You can also use this when dividing tasks by day. You can make special days for trips around town for shopping, visits and errands, special days for housework, etc.
6. Sometimes it’s a good idea to cheat
If you know you’re going to have a busy morning, you can prepare a few breakfast ingredients in the evening to help you make it faster. Or you can spend more time with your children by asking them to accompany you to different places during the day.
Your little girl will be delighted if you take her to the salon with you to watch you do your hair, and your little boy will enthusiastically go with your husband to change the winter tires, for example, or wash the car. Using tricks like these, you can combine several activities or save time.
7. Stress makes you careless and more likely to make mistakes
Almost every week there will be something to mess up your plans. Try not to stress and get angry when you’re late somewhere, miss the subway, or burn your omelet. If the disaster has already happened, it’s definitely already consumed, and nerves won’t help.
Besides, not every unexpected situation is necessarily a disaster. Pull yourself together quickly and try to find a solution. Cancel, plan for another day, change the menu, and improvise. Otherwise, your imagination, attention span, and speed of response won’t work at their best if you’re stressed.
8. Morning organization is the most important
How you start your day will dictate your mood until the end of it. So morning organization is most important. Keep the same wake-up time and ritual every morning, even if you or the kids have different schedules.
If your regular schedule involves waking up, getting washed, getting dressed and ready, eating breakfast, and going to school or work, it’s important to keep it every day. That way, even if activities differ on holiday, for example, returning to work days won’t be cumbersome and chaotic.
9. Use notes, notes, and alarms
You can’t keep track of everything, especially when there are more than 10 things on your daily list. Help your memory with notes, slips, or alarms throughout the day. You can put them on your phone, laptop, or around the house. They’ll especially help you with small tasks or ones you do infrequently and might forget.
10. Use an online calendar
Online calendars are an extremely important tool for time management, especially since you can access them from multiple devices, easily schedule appointments, vacations, and doctor’s office visits, and set alarms to remind you what you have to do at a certain time before that event, schedule recurring events, and more. You can use both the Google search engine calendar and the calendars included in the email app.
11. Don’t waste time waiting
Surely you don’t like waiting either, and you think you can spend that time doing something else. Well, instead of wasting that time – which is precious anyway – you can find ways to make the most of those minutes. For example, if you’re in the waiting room and it’s still a while before you get into your doctor’s office, you can read an inspirational book, listen to music on your headphones, listen to a radio show, listen to a podcast, or jot down ideas as they come to you in an agenda.
12. Learn to say no
You’ll never learn how to manage your time effectively if you don’t learn to say no. Only you really know what you have time for, so if you need to turn down a request to focus on more important tasks, don’t hesitate to do so.
Instead of doing lots of tasks that add little or no value, complete fewer tasks that create more value. If you can’t say no, delegate. While delegation can be a hard skill to learn, it can do wonders for personal time management.
What you need to know about burnout
In 2019, the term “burnout” was recognized by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an “occupational phenomenon”. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally exhausted, and unable to cope with constant demands. As the stress continues, you lose interest and motivation.
Burnout reduces productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly powerless and hopeless. Eventually, you may feel you have nothing left to offer.
The negative effects of burnout spread to every area of life, including your home, workplace, and social life. Burnout can also cause long-term changes in your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu. Because of its many consequences, it’s important to seek specialist help if you suspect you are experiencing this syndrome.