So, you are envisioning a future self that you want to aim towards becoming and you have developed a list of goals and tasks that will take you in that direction. But how do you fit it all into your schedule? The key to getting it all done is effective time management. With practice and some trial and error, time management skills can allow us to continue doing all of the things that we love while staying ahead of the demands of life.
The positive effects of proper time management cannot be overstated. It gives you more time with the friends and family you care about, less stress, a positive boost to your mood by having more control in your life, improved self-discipline, and if you are working, it can be directly related to the opportunities you will encounter as well as your income, since time is money. Time management gets things done, allowing you to either get more done in a day or have more downtime to relax and enjoy yourself.
1 – Set Goals the Right Way
Accomplishing any of our goals and planned activities is about being smart regarding how we design them. Literally. The S.M.A.R.T. method is the best way for planning out goals, because we need them to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
Vague goals are difficult to achieve and make clear progress on, and goals that are too big or far away are difficult to attain. Try breaking large goals down into smaller, easy to complete objectives, and make sure that all activities are relevant and align with your overarching vision of success and personal development.
2 – Prioritize
We can prioritize our daily tasks and activities into four different categories known as Eisenhower Matrix:
- Important and Urgent
- Important but not urgent
- Urgent but not important
- Not urgent and not important
Look at all of your daily tasks, and sort them accordingly. Important and urgent activities, such as anything important with a deadline that is closing in fast, should take the first priority, and we should develop a plan based on completing these by their deadlines.
Important but not urgent activities are your long-term strategies for personal development, such as training for a personal goal, relationship building, and recreational activities. These need to fit
around the important and urgent activities in the week, but remember that it’s important to have fun and do the things you love, so try and get at least one of these in a day.
Urgent but not important tasks, such as phone calls, regular interruptions, doing things for others, and daily chores also need to be factored in since they take up our time and we can’t simply not do them a lot of the time.
And finally, tasks that are not urgent and not important, such as mindlessly watching tv or scrolling through social media, should only be used for taking breaks from other more important activities, and should not play a large part in our daily schedule. Many habits and activities that we waste time on will fall into this category, so consider what from this list you can completely remove to give yourself more time on more important or enjoyable things.
3 – Set Time Limits and Follow Them
After prioritizing our tasks and activities, we then need to allocate set amounts of time to each throughout the day. Setting time limits does two things: first of all, working within a time limit helps us to stay motivated since a race against the clock can make us work faster and with more intensity. Secondly, knowing how much time our daily activities are going to take lets us know if we can fit in an extra activity that wasn’t planned, or if we are going to be late for something before it’s too late to do anything about it.
Spend a week timing all of your daily tasks so that you develop a realistic understanding of how long each of your activities take, and then use that information to fit your activities into your daily routine. Once you have a set time for an activity, stick to it. In time, that time limit will automatically trigger you to get to work without issue.
4 – Take Regular Breaks
When we do a lot of work without taking a break, it becomes hard to concentrate and we can actually become slower and less productive than if we took short breaks in between each activity. You can either break between each individual activity to reset yourself, or set a timer where every 2 hours, you take 20 minutes off. Try meditating, going for a short walk, listening to music, reading a chapter from a book, or anything else that is relaxing for you and not work-related.
5 – Organize a Long-Term Plan
As well as planning out your daily and weekly schedule, we also need to consider organizing ourselves for the long term. Write down the deadlines for all of your projects and allocate the appropriate amount of time to ensure you get them done on time. If you have a martial arts grading coming up or a big sports game, schedule enough training sessions in advance so nothing is left to the last minute. The same goes for any of your personal goals because the sooner you start, the more time you have to succeed.
6 – Know What You Are Doing at the Start of Each Day
Once you have prioritized all of your activities and tasks, and your daily, weekly, and long-term schedules are planned and written out, then relax and take each day as it comes. When you wake up in the mornings, make sure that you have a clear idea of what is scheduled for THAT DAY, and don’t be worrying or thinking about any other day.
When you mentally go through your schedule in the morning, take a moment and think about how each activity and task will bring you closer to your goals, and at the end of each day, right out your to-do list for the following day so that you can hit the ground running with a focused mind.