When we were kids, life was simple: you wake up, get ready for school, have breakfast, spend eight hours at school, go home, do homework, watch a little tv, then back to bed. The same routine happens the next day. All you gotta worry about is your home work, or a test the following day or the next.
Then we all grow up to be adults, with a job, with kids, our responsibilities magnified a hundred fold -- our chores and errands sometimes filling up to the brim. You wish a day was longer, or that you had a clone to do half the work that you're supposed to do. You feel burnt out. You cry out for a vacation, a break, anything!
Let's face reality: you cannot control time! What you have under control is yourself -- your behavoir during the day. Is procrastination your middle name? Are you cool and collected when things do not go according to what you have planned? Changing your actions and reactions during the day is the most effective way you can manage your time.
Here are some tips to help you become "time savvy:"
The most successful way to start managing your time is to have an honest assessment of yourself. What are your strongest points? The things you do best? Most of the time, the work you need to do that utilizes your "best skills" will be done in less time than the others.
Evaluate yourself - do you find yourself always putting off work? Are you a perfectionist? How do you react when you don't get your work done? Taking note of these things will help you in recognizing the negative things that eat up your time during the day.
If you feel like you can't make an honest assessment of yourself, ask someone close to you, like your partner or even a fellow co-worker. Ask them to inform you how they can tell when you're overstressed. Some people fell that they're okay even if people around them can see that they're not.
Try to observe when you're tense. Sometimes, just simply taking note of tensed muscles will relax them.
Have a clear idea why you want to manage your time -- is it because you feel overworked? Or underproductive? Or do you feel that you're not spending enough time with your family anymore? Keeping the reason in mind will help you focus on managing your time effectively. Whenever you feel like giving up on work and putting it off the next day, just keep reminding yourself why you have to continue, today.
Setting realistic goals, that is. You have to tell yourself how much work you want to be done for a day; but make sure that you consider realistically how much work you can do. Remember, a day is only 24 hours. Even if you're the queen bee of organization, there's only so much that you can do. Accept that.
Recognize time-wasting deeds.
Are you guilty of wasting time on trivial things? Most of us are. You're planning to do your laundry right after checking your e-mail, but you spend too much time checking your e-mail, forwarding, writing your replies. Three hours later, you realize it's too late to do your laundry because it's time for dinner. You're going to postpone doing laundry until tomorrow, when you have other stuff planned to do. Like the laundry, your work piles up. Keeping in touch of course, is essential, but isn't it better to do that after finishing up with work?
Take note of the things that you waste your precious time with, and try to eliminate them. In time, you'll find yourself having the time to do such things.
It's Sunday, and you're rushing to do a presentation for Monday. Your sister calls you on your cell, and proceed to gab it up for four hours. After talking to her, you rush through the presentation, and sleep at dawn. You wake up two hours later, overtired, stressed, and completely unready for the presentation. Sounds familiar? Interruptions waste your time. You could maybe ask your sister to call you back once you've finished with work? So you could focus more on her, and not on the impending presentation.
You could also set a goal for yourself to avoid personal calls while working. It seems harsh, at first, but this will ensure you get your work done on time.
Put it on paper!
You do not only need to write down the things you need to be done, but one thing you have to put on paper is your goals. This will enable you to check back on them from time to time, and evaluate yourself if you're meeting your goals. Am I still avoiding my time-wasting activities? Check. Am I spending more time with my family? Check.
To do list.
First, a scratch. List all of the things you need to be done. Then, reread what you have written and start prioritizing. Put items on the NOW or HIGH PRIORITY list, and others on the LATER or LOW PRIORITY. Do the things on the "now list" in the morning, or as soon as possible. And when you do have time in the afternoon, do the "later list."
If, during the day, you realize that what you're doing on the "now list" is what you don't need to be doing at the moment, demote it to the "later list" and proceed to the next errand/work you have to do.
Set a time limit.
In each task, it's best to set a time limit on each of them. Of course, you have to know yourself in order to gauge how much time you need to spend on one errand. You can set an alarm in your cellular phone to warn you if you've spent the time you have set on the job. For example, setting one hour for grocery shopping. If you have an idea of how much time you need to spend in the market, you'll also minimize your time dawdling on the shelves and picking things that are not on your grocery list.
You cannot manage your time effectively if your files, or receipts, documents are not in order. You're on your way to the bank but you can't remember which drawers you have thrown your statements in. Then you waste more time hurriedly riffling through drawers around the house. Organization and time management go hand in hand.
10. Maximize your time.
If you know you're going to spend time waiting for a doctor's appointment, why not use that time to balance your checkbook, or maybe take a look at your daughter's term paper that she asked you to comment on? Realize that time is gold, and that you need to be productive each second.
Finally, once you've felt you're improving on managing your time -- give yourself a pat on a back. Maybe, set a time for a spa treatment or a quiet day at a park with your family -- as a gift to yourself, now that you're more productive, efficient, and happy.