I Don't Have Time
We all have time. Yes, some have more free time than others, but we all have 24 hours in a day. How we use those hours is all up to us! Before you continue reading, please understand that I know I'm a stay at home mom and I may have "more" time than others. I am not naive to the fact that there are single parents out there with three jobs. This post can help everyone, no matter where you are at in life.
I think a lot of people who say "I don't have time" look at the day in large increments of time. Since I can't devote an hour or two to a task, I can't do it at all and it will not fit into my lifestyle. I think the first step in time management is throwing that concept out the window. Everyone has some free time, even if it's 5 minutes parked in the car before you go into the grocery store. No one has the power to slow down time, but we all have the power to manage it. If you want to take steps at improving your time management, it starts with a change of mindset.
1. Time audit
When it comes to time management, the first step you need to do is find out where your time actually goes. You may believe that you only send 30 minutes on emails, but in reality that task is eating-up an hour or two of your day. The easiest way to keep track of your time is to download an app like RescueTime, Toggl or my app Calendar to track everything you do for a week. You can then access a report to find out what’s stealing your time. With this information, you can then make the appropriate adjustments.
2. Set a time limit to each task
I've found that setting a time limit to each task prevents me from getting distracted or procrastinating. For example, if I want to write an article for my blog, I give myself two hours. So if I started at 8am, I try to get it written by 10am. Hey google, set a timer for 2 hours. In a way, it becomes a game.
3. Use a to-do-list, but don’t abandon tasks!
For those of you who know me, know I am a list whore. If you were in my wedding, you know all about my spreadsheets and lists. Sorry, not sorry.
There will always be interruptions that may prevent you from completing a task. Always come back to revisit the task. Be realistic in your to do lists for each day. Sometimes to-do lists will even be created for one hour increments. If daily to-do lists are too daunting, then dial it make it hourly or maybe morning, afternoon, and night. Set time frames to your to-do lists!
4. Plan ahead.
One of the worst things that you can do is wake-up without a plan for the day. That’s why you should always plan ahead using one of these tips!
-Every night before I go to bed I create a list for the next day. Sometimes it only takes 2-3 minutes and it sets me up for the day. Believe it or not it also helps me sleep better!
-These things should be prioritized so that you complete the most important tasks first!
-First thing in the morning you can read your list and adjust if interruptions arise!
5. Spend your mornings on the important stuff
You should take care of your biggest and most-challenging tasks in the morning. There are a couple reasons why this is such an effective time management trick. For starters, you usually have the most amount of energy in the AM. I know I do especially after my coffee! So it’s better to tackle these tasks when you’re not drained. Also, you can use that feeling of accomplishment to get through the rest of the day! Mind-blown….
6. Learn to delegate/outsource
It’s a no brainer that delegation and outsourcing are the real time savers because it lessens your workload. But it can be a bit tricky and may eat up more time at first. You’ll need to train someone in order for them to take on tasks you used to do. This will free up your time for the more important tasks in the long run. This may look like hiring a housekeeper or just asking family members for more help around the house.
If you are a business owner you can hand over responsibilities to team members who are qualified or hire an experienced freelancer. The initial investment will be worth it in the end.
7. Eliminate half-work
What is half work?
-You’re writing a report, but stop randomly to check your phone for no reason.
-You try out a new workout routine, but switch to a new program a couple of days later because you read about it online.
-While talking on the phone, your mind wanders to your email inbox.
The best way to overcome half-work is by blocking out significant time to focus on one project and eliminate everything else. For example, while working on a project, leave your phone in another room. I understand interruptions will happen, but they do not happen as often as we think. Eliminate distractions and give your tasks the time they deserve.
8. Change your schedule
If you’re struggling with time management, the solution may be as simple as changing your schedule around.
The most effective schedule change to help with time management is waking up an hour early. Or maybe you just start with a half hour. These added minutes to your day will make a huge impact.
Also, consider waking-up earlier on the weekends and maybe cut-down on the amount of TV that you watch. We all know we can cut down on the amount of scrolling we do on social media.
9. Leave a buffer-time between tasks and meetings
Jumping immediately from one task or meeting to the next may seem like a good use of your time, but it actually has the opposite effect. We need time to clear our minds and recharge by going for a walk, meditating, or just daydreaming. After all, the human brain can only focus for about 90-minutes at a time.
Without that break it’s more difficult to stay focused and motivated. Scheduling buffer-time also can prevent running late to your next meeting. I find 25-minutes between tasks and meetings an ideal amount of buffer-time. You may think, I don’t have that time. Well then just put 5 or 6 minutes in between. You need some time to decompress before transitioning!
10. Get organized and single-task!
If your house and things are organized you will not spend time searching for things. It may seem silly, but go ahead and add up all the times you spent searching for your keys. Who’s laughing now?
Let’s start by having a home for everything and making sure that items are put back where they belong. At the end of the day clean your workplace. I spend about 10-15 minutes at the end of each day to tidy up things at home.
When it comes to organizing your home or office, don’t think big-picture. Take it one room at a time or even one drawer at a time. And, start single-tasking. Most people cite multitasking as the main culprit for misplacing items.
11. Use an online calendar
Calendars have long been a fundamental tool for time management. However, online calendars have taken this to the next level. That’s because you can access it from multiple devices, easily schedule meetings and appointments, set up reminders, create time blocks, and schedule recurring events.
Personally, I use Google Calendar. I think it’s the best. But Outlook and Apple Calendar also work well. I even have a note in my phone that I use to map out my week. I usually do this on Sunday. When each event or task is done I go into the note and delete it. Of course I create this note from the information in my calendar.
12. Stop being perfect
When you’re a perfectionist, nothing will ever be good enough. That means you’ll keep going back to the same task over and over again. How productive do you think your day will be as a result? So, stop being perfect. It doesn’t exist. Do the best you can and move on.
13. Just say “No”
I know that you don’t want to upset anyone. But you can only handle so much. If you already have a full plate then decline that dinner invitation or helping your colleagues on a project until you have the spare time.
14. Don’t waste time waiting
Being in a waiting room for an appointment is time we can all use! We often think, this time could be better spent elsewhere. Try and make the most of it, rather than complain about it! For example, while sitting in a waiting room I’ll read an inspirational book, listen to a podcast, or blueprint an upcoming blog post!
15. Find inspiration
Find a book, blog, podcast, youtube speech that inspires you in some way. Save it and let it be your go to when you need a pick me up. It will spark the motivational fire that you need when you are dragging.
If this post overwhelms you, that was not my intent. Randomly pick one tip and put it into use. Then maybe in a few weeks, pick another one and go!