Do you ever just feel the urge to roll your eyes when someone talks about time management? Let’s face it; not all of us have the enthusiasm to micromanage themselves. It always impresses me how some people can effectively stick to their schedule. At the same time, how can they force themselves to follow a routine when no one is watching.
For me, it’s easier to stick to a schedule if someone else is managing me. But when you’re on your own, it’s so tempting to override the schedules and just follow it tomorrow. Sadly, we all know how this ends. Tomorrow becomes tomorrow, which only leads to eventually breaking the plan. So how is it possible to like time management?
You already hate the idea of following a schedule daily. You can’t expect yourself to magically love doing micromanaging. And because you are your own boss with this “schedule,” you might actually end up not complying with it. The solution for this is to ease yourself into this transition.
You might be used to waking up after snoozing three times, depending on the mood. And whatever time left to prepare in the morning, you’ll just wing it. Some days you have an hour to prepare, but some days you force yourself to do everything in just 15 minutes because you have no definite timetable.
If you’re someone who hates having a whiteboard marker and an excel spreadsheet of things to do with timestamps, you have to start with small changes. Break down your goals into more achievable ones. For example, instead of forcing yourself to wake up at 7 and dividing an hour to prepare, just start by waking at 7 first.
Once it gets easier and comfortable, then you can divide this hour into your tasks, such as showering and eating breakfast at 30 minutes each. You don’t have to immediately insert four tasks if your usual routine is only composed of two. There’s nothing wrong with accomplishing a fewer number of tasks. You can make micromanagement more micro.
But if this thought already has your eyes rolling, you can have a free week where you don’t have to divide this hour. Eventually, you’ll realize how easy it is to get ready in the morning if you stick to your schedule. And once you get used to dividing an hour, you can insert small but doable tasks as well. Perhaps a 10-minute workout or a 5-minute walk with your dog.
Because you’re sticking to a much doable routine, you are also setting yourself for success. And if you’re appreciating your progress, you’ll also be more motivated in managing your time. These steps might seem so small, but in the long run, they’re the ones that will give you much stronger results.
Look at Tasks, Not Time
Another mistake that you might have done before is you’re looking at the time itself. But before you get confused, yes, we’re still talking about time management. However, time management doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re only managing time. In fact, time management is going to be a lot easier if you’re going to manage your tasks first.
What you want to be doing is to identify how you’re going to accomplish your to-dos and get them to conform in your available time. For example, you can first identify which tasks are going to be much more challenging to do. Ergo, these same tasks are going to be the ones that will take a lot more time. They can also be some of the things that you’re not really looking forward to doing every day since they’re the more strenuous ones.
Depending on your lifestyle and your personal daily limitations, you can start your day with these tasks. The longer you’re putting them on hold, the harder it will be for you to eventually do them. At the same time, you’ll spend the day dreading the schedule you’ve placed for these tasks. If you have finished doing them much earlier on, you’ll feel more relaxed throughout the day.
Another advantage that you’ll get from managing tasks is that it gives you a clearer view of your priorities. For example, if you know that it will be difficult for you to do your reports at work for just an hour, you can divide doing it throughout the day. This way, you feel no pressure to conform to the timetable that you’ve set for yourself. You also don’t have to despise glancing at the clock and thinking, “Oh no, I have to do another thing in the next 5 minutes.”
You might also want to put those easy and repetitive responsibilities in between the bigger tasks. For example, if you can quickly cook for just around 10 minutes, you can have this as a break from the work computer.
Maybe you can also cut your cooking preparation time, as mentioned here. Using an appliance like a hot water dispenser allows you to work smarter, not harder. Doing so also gives you more time for random and unexpected tasks since you can just fit simple responsibilities into your now changed schedule.
We’re all aware of our limits. And over time, we can easily notice when we’re close to getting tired and unproductive. You might not realize it, but maybe you don’t hate time management itself. Maybe you hate it because, for you, time management is only about doing tiring and repetitive duties.
To avoid getting burned out, find balance in your life. Put something in your every day that keeps you motivated and satisfied. To some people, it might just be hobbies like painting or going out. Or if you’re a homebody like me, cuddling with my cats while listening to jazz gives me my much-needed detox.
You can also put in breaks throughout your schedule. Perhaps you want to check your phone and message some friends. Or you can also use these periods to eat or take a nap. By having them in your regular breaks, you also won’t have the risk of breaking your intended schedule. You won’t end up overdoing your breaks, which will lead you to an unproductive day.