Have you ever been in a position where you feel like 24 hours in a day is just not enough? Of course, you have – this feeling you experience is a part of something we call life. Time is a scarce resource and endless amounts of projects that have to be finalized before 9 am Monday meeting, what feels like never-ending home commitments and errands that have to be completed before the next morning, can often leave you feeling exhausted and burned out. Very often it seems like there is never going to be that time again where you can slow down, take your foot off the pedal and enjoy yourself.
Living in today’s day and age, our life requires a great deal of work/life balance and establishing the perfect equilibrium is easier said than done. We all get caught up with our busy lives, sometimes feeling like the concept of ‘living’ only revolves around office hours and our daily commutes, with no time for our own personal lives, hobbies and sometimes even family. But it shouldn’t be that way. And, it doesn’t have to.
Below I have listed a few techniques that I find useful in managing my own time on day to day basis. Those techniques not only allow me to manage my time and my workload but also help me to stay focused, work more efficiently and at the end of each day feel accomplished and relaxed before the next day.
My #1 tip is to prioritize your tasks and set yourself weekly goals. I like to do this on a Sunday afternoon. I usually take an hour or two to determine what and when I want to accomplish in an upcoming week. I make myself a list and estimate how much time I will need for each task.
Those two hours at the end of each of my weekends allow me to create clear goals for myself that I can strive towards during a week. They help me set expectations of what I need to accomplish and act as a reminder throughout the week. That way, if I start getting caught up in my busy schedule, I have something to look back at, that helps me stay focused and on track with my weekly priorities.
Organize your week
Another technique that I employ on a Sunday afternoon after I figure out my weekly tasks and priorities, is my calendar management. This is probably my favorite way of keeping on track with my priorities throughout a week. I use a combination of Outlook calendar for my work tasks, Gmail calendar for my personal tasks and Apple calendar for my family commitments. If you have a smartphone like I do, it is almost the perfect way of managing your time.
Based on deadlines, the importance and the time it takes to complete a given task I determine when it should happen in my week. I try to start with the most important and toughest tasks at the beginning of my week. That way if they require a little more thought or time, I can accommodate for them.
A calendar should not be used as set in stone commandments for the week. However, you should do your best to stick to times and tasks you set for yourself. Every so often something will come up that will throw you off your daily agenda, but then at least you’ll have the calendar to help you get back on track. Adjust it and carry on.
Take care of yourself
One of the most overlooked techniques that will help you become more organized, more efficient and prevent you from burn out is taking care of yourself. I’m not only talking about the physical aspect of taking care of yourself, I’m also talking about your mental health being.
On a Sunday afternoon, when I set out my weekly goals and priorities, I account for the time I need during a week to exercise, meditate and unwind. I try to exercise five times a week on a morning before I leave for work and once a day have at least 30 minutes to relax and collect my thoughts together before I go to sleep.
Taking time out for myself on a night allows me time to reflect on my day and give my mind some well-deserved rest. Doing this makes me feel relaxed and helps me prepare mentally for the next day.
Rule out time-wasters
My tip #4 helps me save time and effort where I can. Each Sunday I reflect on my previous week and determine what I did last week that wasted my time. Figuring out what can be considered a time waster helps me become more efficient and productive in my professional and personal life, allowing me more time for things I actually want to do. If I can cut out 15 minutes a day of pointless time wasters, I gain almost two more hours a week that I can dedicate to my hobbies and family.
Life is busy and sometimes very overwhelming. However, there are techniques you can use to become more efficient, more productive, happier and stress-free. It’s all about if and how you use them. The tips and techniques provided in my article work for me. I wanted to share some of my thoughts hoping they can help or inspire someone who might be struggling with their work/life balance and a day only consisting of set 24 hours.