Time-management is a topic that often comes up with clients and even with friends and family. Everyone’s biggest complaint is “I don’t have enough time” or “I never seem to have enough time to get things done”. Sound familiar?
What we understand to be time-management, is actually self-management. You can’t control time but we do have control over how we spend our time. Life doesn’t come with a remote, we can pause, rewind or stop time (as much as we’d like to!). Imagine being able to fast forward past all the pieces of our lives we don’t like or rewinding and reliving happy memories. Unfortunately we can’t do that. All we have is now, the present moment.
We all get the same 24 hours each day so we have to make them count. The key is planning. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan but life is much easier to navigate if you have a plan to begin with. Do you plan your day, your week or the month ahead? Do you set yourself goals for what you want to achieve each year? Are you feeling constantly stressed and overwhelmed with everything you have to do? You’re busy but not productive? Do you feel like you’re running from one thing to the next without accomplishing anything? Then you probably need to make time to plan and get organized.
Start by creating a Weekly Planner. Sit down on Sunday afternoon or evening and plan your week. Ask yourself what do you need to achieve this week. What are your three most important tasks?
Then create a Daily Planner. What do you need to achieve each day? Prioritize -what are your three most important tasks for today? Do this every evening. At the end of the week (Sunday), review and plan for the following week. Don’t fill your entire day. Allow space for breaks or to do unexpected tasks which may come up. Allocate extra time getting to meetings. That way, if you are running a little late, you can still be on time.
If you are running your own business, you might also be the sales agent, bookkeeper and admin etc. Consider hiring someone to help with some of these functions allowing you time to do what you do best. Make sure you hire qualified, competent and motivated people to help you in your business. If you already have staff, delegate where possible.
Beware of time-stealers. Set aside time each day to deal with emails. If possible have separate email accounts for business and personal emails. Don’t waste time on social media unless you are promoting your business.
Don’t overschedule, this just leads to feeling overwhelmed and stress. Allow for 15 minute pockets of free time throughout your day. Have a list of filler tasks that you can do during those times, if you choose to. You can also use those fifteen minutes as “me-time”. Go for a walk, do some exercise or just take a break and relax for a few minutes. Be mindful. Being mindful means being present in the moment. Notice the people around you. Notice your surroundings. Slow down and appreciate each moment in time.
At home, make sure you know everyone’s schedules such as your kids sporting activities and events, extra-murals etc. and plan and organize accordingly. Set aside at least 15 minutes per day (per child) to talk to your child away from distractions.
STOP multi-tasking! We have become so used to multi-tasking that we fail to see the harm it is doing to our physical and mental health as well as our relationships with our families. When we multi-task we are not giving 100% attention to whatever it is we are doing. When your spouse or partner and kids are talking to you, are you actively listening or preoccupied doing something else? This is often how misunderstandings happen. Stop what you are doing and give the other person your full attention. At work, concentrate on one task at a time, giving it your full attention. Try to avoid interruptions when you are busy with something urgent or important.
Be flexible. While it’s important to plan your day and prioritize your most important tasks, accept that there will be unexpected challenges and things which may require your immediate attention. Deal with crises as they occur and then get back on track. Working through challenges builds resilience.
Lastly slow down and enjoy life. While we can’t avoid the stress of daily living or stressful situations, if we take the time to look after ourselves, plan and organize as much as possible and being mindful of what we do each day, we will find it much easier to cope with whatever life throws your way.
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