How often do you find yourself complaining that you don’t have enough time? Or that you’re swamped with tasks you don’t manage to fit into the day?
In our busy lives it is essential to learn to manage our time properly to avoid procrastination and feeling overwhelmed. Here are a few simple tips that can help:
1. The alarm clock struggle: are you fighting every morning with your alarm clock, hitting the snooze button up to the last minute and then rushing to try to get to work in time? Do you end up being late to work or arriving there all sweaty and out of breathe ready for another shower?!
The first change that you need to make is to evaluate accurately how much time you need to get ready in the morning. Realistically. And from there set your alarm at the correct time. Now if you’re waking up style is to snooze a few times whilst you progressively wake up, simply evaluate how much time you need for your snooze routine and set your alarm clock accordingly. Meaning that if you need 15mn snoozing time and 1h to get ready, set your alarm clock 1.15mn before you’re due to leave the house.
However in reality, the snooze element ends up being a time trap as we are rarely awake enough at that time to consciously make the choice to stop snoozing and get up with enough time on our hands. And that’s how we end up rushing and spilling the coffee on that bright white shirt right before crossing the door step.
So I suggest dropping the snooze routine and put your alarm clock out of hand reach so when it rings, you actually have to get up to switch it off. If you’re still struggling, I would suggest placing it out of your bedroom door and set an unpleasant sound so it makes it more difficult to go back to bed after getting up to switch it off 🙂
2. Getting out of the house: so you’ve now succeeded to get up with enough time on your hand to get ready, have breakfast, listen to the news and get dressed, however you still end up rushing out of the door. Could you be distracted by your electronic devices? We tend to be oblivious to the amount of time we spend on our phones: how long do you think you spend on your smart phone per day? Would you be surprised to know that on average we spend more time on our phones than with our partners?
A lot of the time we plan time to get ready before leaving the house, but we don’t include the time we spent checking and replying to the texts or emails we’ve just received. That takes up time and contributes to take us off track and delay us even more.
I suggest to put your devices in your bag or coat pocket whilst you’re getting ready and only check it once you’re out of the house. You might be surprised on how easier it becomes to be on time!
3. The social media trap: once you’ve hopefully managed to get up on time and enjoy a relaxing beginning of the day, you may find yourself panicking at the sight of your ever growing to-do list. And decide to take a break by checking Facebook or Twitter “just for a minute” and before you know it, 2h have passed and you’re even more behind on your schedule. Social media can be very addictive and seriously hinder your productivity. However we all need some down time during the day to recharge our batteries.
In my daily schedule, I actually plan my social media time and internet surfing in my diary and stick to it as if it was an appointment. In my busiest day when I have to commute a lot for example, I choose to do the social media part or even my emails during my commuting time. Hence meeting both my need for entertainment and breaks from work and the one about using my time in the most productive way.
4. The diary secret: I hear a lot of people complaining they don’t have the time to go to the gym, read or go shopping or do something that is not purely work. If it is important enough for you, the best way to make sure you actually allow time for that activity is to schedule it in your diary as if it was a work appointment. I generally sort out my diary once a week and schedule everything in for that week to make sure I keep a good work-life balance and allocate myself some me-time. In this way when I am asked to do something extra that isn’t in my diary, it allows me to first check if that will take over my personal time and make a conscious decision about it.
Watch out however to be realistic in the planning and commuting, making sure you allow time to shift from one activity to the other. If you are scheduling 1h to the gym, make sure you take on board how long it will take you to get there, get changed etc. and include it in your diary.
5. The Giant to-do list: my current to do list has got 24 items and if I look at it my first instinct is to run away and go on Facebook instead 🙂 so I’ve decided to prioritise it and chunk it down. I choose what is urgent with a deadline that has to be dealt with today and that goes on the top of my list. Then further down is what is less urgent and doesn’t have a deadline. I then decide by when I want or need them to be sorted, look at my diary and assign a due date to them. I am using a very useful app called wunderlist that syncs with all my devices and reminds me when the task is due.
Now your turn! What do you do to optimise your time?