Was this year going to be the year you got on top of your time management? Started the year with the best intentions of slaying your time wasting but have found that you are no closer to getting on top of your to do list or your goals for this year?
More and more people are making an effort to manage time their better and to spend quality time on what’s important to them, such as personal goals, however the reality is that for a lot of us there are still plenty of issues regarding our time management.
It’s no secret that for most of us life is busier than ever. Ever increasing work projects, deadlines that never seem to go away, increasing school and social lives for our children, it seems harder and harder to find some spare time to get onto some of our goals.
One of your most important resources is your time. How you spend this can be the difference between staying in your current existence or achieving your goals and dreams. Some of you may be happy with how you spend your time, for the rest of it’s probably time to analyze your time management.
Everyone has 24 hours in their day, why is it that some people can achieve some amazing things in those 24 hours while others struggle with their time management achieving very little?
When you come home from work, how do you spend your time? Is it spending several hours on the couch watching television while scrolling through your social media apps on your phone? Or do you plan out in detail what you wish to achieve with your free time?
If you find that you are wasting too much time with low value activities and want to do more with your time, you can do something about it, today.
Taking control of your time management
So with these increasing priorities, how do we manage to achieve anything or at least any of our goals? The first step is to want to do something about your time management. All the latest tips or techniques will be useless unless you actively want to make a change. Once you’ve decided to make that change, let’s dig a little deeper into your current time management and how you currently spend your day and week.
How to we do this? Look at performing a time audit. You want to be as efficient with your time as possible, so let’s look at where you spend your time and then we can assess the results.
Undertake a Time Audit
How deep you want to get into this will depend on what you wish to achieve. A good place to start is to track your time for a day or week to see where you spend it. start with a pen and paper and map out your day/week or if you want to print off a calendar to do this, look at a site such as timeanddate.com.
If you are reviewing your previous days or weeks then be honest with your recollection of how you spent your time. By pretending that your time was spent efficiently or effectively defeats the purpose of the exercise and doesn’t help you. Be honest!
Now that you’ve completed your time audit, what stands out? Was there a lot of wasted time or time that was unaccounted for? Too much television or mobile phone apps, not enough family time? Or was your time management better than you thought?
Congratulations on completing your time audit Now that we are aware of where our time was previously spent, it’s time to look at making any necessary changes to your calendar.
Creating Your New Calendar/Time Management
Now break your current day/calendar into 3 areas:
Non-negotiable, Important and Not Important
Non-negotiable items would include work, your children’s activities, etc.
Important activities would include sports/fitness time or spending time with friends.
Not important includes watching television or spending time on your phone scrolling through your social media apps.
Let’s assume that you have printed out a blank calendar to track your time for the recent day or week that has passed. How did you spend your time? Be honest, what areas of your calendar were non-negotiable, important or not-important?
How to plan out your calendar
As mentioned above, to get the most out of this exercise you need to be honest with how you spend your time. If you really want to change your habits let go of bad habits and time wasting activities and focus on things that will improve the quality of your life, things that will change your life for the better.
Remember that you are in control of your calendar, don’t let anyone dictate to you your free time. One of the ultimate freedoms is being able to control all aspects of your calendar. Guard your free time very closely. The more financially independent you become, the more you can control your calendar.
As you are starting with a blank slate in creating your idea calendar, use a blank piece of paper or a blank calendar. Now start with adding in your non-negotiable activities.
Take this to whatever level you wish to go to. Similar to reviewing and preparing your budget, you can go as deep with your time management as you want. Do you want to plan your time to the minute or do you want have a broader allocation of time to your activities? For those who wish to achieve a lot in a short time frame, you way want to plan/track your time closer to the minute that using a broader time block.
Relaxation/down time is important so make sure you put time in your calendar for this.
Then add in your important activities and non-important activities (though keep these non-important activities to a minimum if you want to achieve important things with your time.
So you’ve created your new calendar/day planner and you are ready to take on the world, what tips should you look out for to help keep you on track with what you want to achieve?
Time Management Tips
Set up your calendar either using an app for your phone or print out your calendar and have it in a highly visible location – The easiest way is to set up an app that will give you alerts of your upcoming appointments or what you have allocated your time for. The simplest apps to use would be the default calendar app on your phone of the Google Calendar app.At the start of each week set your calendar and stick to it.
Review your upcoming day the night before – The worst thing you could have is an early morning meeting or appointment that you weren’t planned for or not on time for and this can throw your day and week out, not to mention you potentially missing out on an opportunity all because you weren’t ready.
The same goes for your upcoming week, look at this on the weekend, say Sunday night so you are prepared for what the week has in store for you.
Set up a schedule (morning and evening) – The less you need to think the more efficient you will be. If you plan out the night before what clothing you will be wearing the next day, what food you will be eating, etc. your morning will be much smoother, less stressful and your day will start a lot better. This also means more focus on the goals that you are aiming to achieve.
Set 3 goals for the day – Whatever your long term goals are, find three smaller goals or tasks that you want to achieve each day that will move you closer to your long term goal and aim to achieve these. For example you might have a long term goal to run a marathon, a shorter term goal might be to run 5km for three days a week whilst building up for your long term marathon goal.
Be flexible – Remember life can be unexpected and the best laid plans can go awry. If this does happen to you don’t stress, handle what you can handle and move on. If possible build in a buffer around the time allocations with your calendar.
Check in regularly – Try and stick to your schedule however don’t stress if it’s a struggle. Reassess this and make the necessary changes to your calendar and work from this going forward. If the calendar is not working so well, change it up so it works for you. Remember enjoy the journey as much as the destination this means having lower stress levels by having your calendar work for you.
Stay away from time (and energy vampires) – As mentioned above your time is very valuable. Guard it with your life. Look at the people you spend time with regularly, are they sapping your time (and energy) or are these interactions worthwhile. How do you feel when you leave when catching up with someone? If you feel exhausted or drained then cut these people out of your life. Analyse these interactions and if they are just wasting your time where you feel like you get nothing from these people, reduce and eliminate time spent with these people.
Or do you dread the thought of catching up with a certain person? Life is too short to spend time with negative and draining people. The less of these vampires in your life, the more productive you will become and the more enjoyable you life will be.