Yes, I want to manage my time more effectively, but look at my day. I have so much going on: work, family, school, and community duties. I have so much to do! When do I have time to manage my time?
Time management is really about managing yourself. It is about making a commitment to be more organized, to maintain your focus, and to use your 24 hours each day to your best advantage.
Here are five tips to help you manage time, especially when you think you don’t have any.
1. Make a to-do list
A do-to-list is simply writing down what you need to and want to do. Create a to-do list and make it a habit to update your list continually. Include urgent and non-urgent items so you’ll never forget or overlook any obligations again. Carry your list with you at all times, on paper, on your phone, or on your tablet. The easy practice of keeping a to-do list will help you to not only manage your time but will also help you to find time for neglected interests and obligations.
2. Become deadline-driven
Bring action and power to your to-do list by adding deadlines to the tasks listed. Be realistic about setting deadlines, and commit yourself to meet your deadlines. Becoming deadline-driven can add speed and urgency to the accomplishment of any task. Have you ever noticed how quickly you can blitz through paperwork, delegate assignments, and make decisions on the last day before your vacation? Although we tend to get a lot done when we’re under pressure, it is a lot less stressful and considerably more professional to establish and stick to a to-do list that includes deadlines.
3. Clean up your act
Clean up and organize your act, including your desk, hard drive, computer files, and e-mail folders so that you can find items and information easily. Benjamin Franklin said it best, “A place for everything, everything in its place.” You will be amazed by the time you will free up to get things done when you are not constantly in a search mode.
4. Take control over time-consuming distractions
Distractions and interruptions rob us of the time that we need to complete the tasks on our to-do list. Here is a simply way to take control. Make a quick list of the distractions in your life, and then start scheming to eliminate all distractions. Turn off the alert rings on your computer and phone, especially when you need to focus on a task at hand. We all know how much people can distract us. If your office has a door, close the door occasionally. Having an open-door policy for your staff is self-defeating if you don’t have the time to listen attentively to their questions and concerns. If a coworker comes to your desk when you’re too busy to chat, ask the coworker to set an alternate time to meet. Taking control of the distractions in your life will give you new-found time to accomplish the many things you want and need to do.
5. Keep a schedule
Your day is made up of blocks of time that can be measured in seconds, minutes, and hours, 24 hours, I reiterate for emphasis. How are you controlling that time? A schedule, a calendar, or a datebook can bring order to your day by helping to make those second, minutes, and hours more effective, providing you with more time than you every thought was possible.
The bottom line: Even though you think your time is limited, more time is available
Time management is really about managing yourself. It’s about making a commitment to be more organized, to maintain your focus, and to find more time in our lives to fulfill our professional roles and responsibilities. Once we achieve better time management skills, then we can have time to spend, supporting causes we care about, enjoying our families, and giving ourselves time to rest, recreate, and invigorate our critical thinking, imaginative, and creative thought processes.