Even though there are 24 hours in a day, sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Between personal and professional responsibilities, your hobbies and interests, and time to rest, it may seem like your schedule is packed to capacity.
Despite seeming like there isn’t enough time, you can free up your schedule and get more things done every day. Today we are going to talk about a hot topic — time management — and explore how you can get better at using this elusive tactic to stay on track and meet your goals.
Examine Your Existing Schedule
Your existing schedule can give you valuable insight into how you’re spending your time and where you can improve. If you want to efficiently manage your time, start by keeping a calendar or use a time tracker to see what you’re up to throughout the day.
Many people tend to underestimate the time they spend on different tasks throughout the day. For example, if you ask someone how long it takes to check their work email, most will likely say around 5 minutes. However, there’s a good chance that these folks are spending much more time checking their emails and won’t realize this is the case until they take a long hard look at their schedule.
If you’re spending close to an hour a day checking your emails instead of your estimate of 5 minutes, that comes out to 28 hours a month — over a full day! Imagine what you could do with another full day to work on various projects or spend time with family. Now think about how many other task times you’re underestimating.
Start tracking what you’re doing throughout the day so you’re more aware of your schedule and can actively look for ways to better manage your time.
Prioritize Your Goals
Now that you know where you’re spending your day, you can start thinking about better ways to manage your time. You can create a list on your personal website, notepad, or phone and list your current priorities.
Everyone’s life is different, so your priorities may differ significantly from another person. It’s up to you to look at things like your personal hobbies, family time, and work to decide where you can improve.
I like to use what I learned while examining my current schedule to prioritize my goals. For instance, let’s say you managed to shave 3 hours off of your daily planner by tracking your activities. You can use that time to balance your priorities by adding more time when necessary.
If you find that you have plenty of time left over after you organize your priorities, you can take some downtime to meditate or pick up a new hobby.
Create a Time Blocking Schedule
You have no dissected your existing schedule and prioritized your goals. Your next task is to take all of that information and craft a new and improved schedule. Time blocking involves managing everything you do in the day, including work, sleep, meals, and personal time.
The best time to make your schedule is on a Sunday. You want to know exactly what you need to tackle for the week, and preparation is the key is to success. If you already know your plans for the month, you can schedule ahead for more than a week.
It may seem stressful at first to micromanage every aspect of your day, but you’ll find that this practice will improve your ability to manage your time. Start by using your priority list and notes to create a flow that works best with the way you live.
For instance, some people are not as effective early in the morning. In that case, you should adjust your schedule, so your priority items take place during the part of the day when you’re most attentive. Otherwise, you could struggle to get through your goals, and the result is you’ll get less done than before.
Learn and Revise
The best part about time blocking is you can learn so much about your habits and how you’re spending your time by reviewing your progress each day. As a result, you’ll learn to better manage your time through practice and revisions.
Your schedule is bound to change over time, and events out of your control throughout the day. Managing your time is about understanding what you need to accomplish and working out a plan that allows you to reach your goals. Before long, you’ll have a system in place that will enable you to make the most of each day and live life to the fullest.