How to get the most out of your time, be your most productive self and live your life to the fullest.
Do you feel as though you constantly have no time, as though there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done? Alternatively, do you have plenty of spare time but feel demotivated and unproductive? In today’s society, we are all balancing a million things, from busy work schedules, countless messages, calls and emails to respond to, commitments with family, daily chores and errands- and that’s before you’ve even exercised, had a social life, watched that new show everyone is talking about and done whatever you need to do to be the best version of you.
This leads to us feeling stressed, anxious, demotivated, frustrated with ourselves and others, constantly falling behind at work, feeling disorganized and so much more. A lack of proper time management is the culprit of these issues and something many people all struggle with, yet it really is an easy fix. Once you get in to a rhythm of what works for you, you’ll be mastering the juggling act of life and thriving in every aspect too.
Here are 8 top tips for time management:
1) Be accountable for your time
People often say ‘there’s just not enough hours in the day’, but the truth is everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, and though people may have more help than others, we are the product of what we give our energy to. The first step in successfully managing our time is to be aware of what you are doing with your time. Screen Time on iPhone is an interesting way to see how much time we may be wasting on social media and certain applications, and it’s a good idea to put a limit on this as we could be using those 15 minutes we spend scrolling through Instagram for something much more productive. Apps like Toggl and RescueTime are also great for helping people be intentional about their productivity, and will even go as far as blocking websites that may be distracting for you.
2) Make lists and break each task down
We all know about the benefits of a list, but this really is an incredible way to gain clarity on everything we need to do. Plus, it’s such a great feeling of accomplishment when you tick something off a list, especially when you get to the end of the day knowing you achieved everything you set out to do. Break each task down into mini-tasks that feel attainable, which feels less overwhelming and you will gain a sense of progression as it all comes together. I love my Passion Planner, which breaks each week down into weekly personal and work to-do lists, a weekly focus and a daily focus to help you to be really specific while also focusing on the overall bigger picture of what you want to achieve. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
3) Set a time limit for each task, then focus and commit fully
Someone once told me to set a timer for each task I had to do, which is incredibly useful. When you feel as though you have a million things to do, give yourself a time limit to work with. I like to start my day by reviewing everything I want and need to do, then work backwards from the end of the day. The best way to get things done on time is to focus and commit fully to one thing at a time, free from distraction. This same mentality applies to good time-keeping and ensuring you arrive everywhere on time. I guarantee once you set limits on the time you give to each task and fully commit to it, you’ll see how much you can actually achieve. Plus, if you finish a task early, you can use the remaining time to take a little break, to stretch or read for a few moments.
4) Set a schedule, not a deadline
James Clear, author of ‘Atomic Habits’ advises that we should ‘set a schedule, not a deadline’, as the best way to ‘achieve your goals is to set a schedule to operate by rather than a deadline to perform by’. He says that ‘instead of giving yourself a deadline to accomplish a particular goal by (and then feeling like a failure if you don’t achieve it), you should choose a goal that is important to you and then set a schedule to work towards it consistently.’ I think this is really important as then we have daily tasks to work on that are all part of a bigger picture, allowing us to feel a constant sense of progression and achievement.
5) Plan ahead and be prepared
Preparation is key and helps things to keep moving smoothly. The worst thing we can do for productivity is not have a plan as this leads to procrastination and wasting time. If you have an early start, think about what you can do the night before to ensure your morning runs to time. Pack your bag, have your outfit planned and your breakfast prepared so you can grab and go. ‘Meal prep’ is also incredibly useful if you have a busy week ahead and help you to stay healthy and energized when you may not have a lot of time to cook. These things may sound small, but they make a big difference and really help to keep stress levels low, giving you have the mental clarity to focus on the important things!
An effective time-management tip is to start with the most important tasks as we have the most energy at the beginning of the day, plus that feeling of accomplishment will carry through the rest of the day. Mark Twain alluded to this when he said, ‘if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.’ Be mindful of what you give you time to and make sure you are putting the important things first. Ask yourself what do you really need to do to feel accomplished today, then do that.
7) Have Keystone Habits
In the book ‘The Power of Habit’, Charles Duhigg discusses the power of having keystone habits, which are habits in your daily life that lead to the development of many other positive habits. An example of this for a lot of people is exercise. After exercise, they want to eat cleaner and healthier which makes them feel good, they notice they have more energy which leads to productivity, they feel happier which leads to a more positive outlook, which may lead to their relationships starting to thrive, and so on. Having a healthy nighttime routine is a good keystone habit as this leads to a good night’s sleep, which means you can wake up early feeling rested and clear-headed, ready to seize the day! Discover the keystone habits that you can implement on a daily basis to make a difference for you.
8) Take time for YOU and get inspired!
This seems to be something we all struggle with, and yet it may be the most important thing of all. Taking time for ourselves so we can recharge helps us to regain focus and inspiration, meaning we have a renewed sense of motivation when we return to our tasks. It’s okay to say no, to cancel or turn down plans in favor of allowing ourselves to recuperate or do something that feels good. Life is about having a balance and it is vital that we include ourselves in that mix by having all-important ‘you’ time. Remember the saying ‘you can’t drink from an empty cup’. Ask yourself what you need to do each week to keep you cup full! In life, there can be so much to do that it all feels overwhelming and often we don’t know where to start because we are giving so much of ourselves to other things. Make sure you incorporate something each day to give you your daily and weekly source of inspiration to reignite your fire. It can be something as small as listening to an podcast about something that fascinates you on your daily commute, or waking up 30 minutes before your family so you can meditate. Whatever it is, know that carving out quality time for you is crucial. Self-love isn’t selfish!
Apply these tips over the next month and see how it impacts your daily life. It takes 21 days to turn something into a habit, so set an intention to be your best, most productive self and take note of how your life expands exponentially. You can do it!