Do you have a never-ending ‘To Do’ list? Do you struggle to get everything done on a daily basis? Are you overwhelmed with work, home and personal tasks? You’re not alone! Here at ‘So Just Be’, we often find that there are just not enough hours in the day. The last year has taken a big toll on our time and our resources. At times, we’ve struggled to make any progress with projects that have meant a lot to us as we’ve had to reprioritise what we love to do over what we have to do.
We’re always looking for ways to manage our time more effectively so that we can get more things done, feel less stressed out and claw back some time for our passion projects. With that in mind we’ve put together a list of time management hacks to share with you so that you can get more time for yourself and the things you love doing:-
Prioritise Your Tasks and Goals
To begin getting more done in your day, it’s important to get organised. Start with making a realistic checklist for the week. I like to make a checklist with three columns – one for ongoing work projects and work deadlines that I’m aware of, one for household tasks and one for personal projects. This is your weekly master list (I usually like to make this list on a Sunday afternoon, ready for the week ahead). Highlight the top three most important tasks from these columns – these are the tasks that absolutely have to get done, no matter what!
Next, on a daily basis, make a to do list and include one or two of your highlighted tasks as part of your top three tasks to complete for your day. This will help you to spread your key priorities across the week so that you don’t feel overwhelmed or stressed-out. Creating these lists will help you to feel in control of your overall workload whilst the act of ticking or crossing them off your list will give you a sense of satisfaction and help you to feel in control of your goals.
I’m sure that many of us are familiar with the idea that women are better at multi-tasking than men. Whilst there may be some truth to this in the way that we think, multiple studies have shown that the idea of being able to effectively multi-task is a myth. Our brains are able to switch between tasks quickly but too much switching can lead to a reduction in concentration which increases the risk of making mistakes. Doing one thing at a time and giving it our full attention is a much more effective way of getting through our daily tasks.
Block Out Your Time
Look at your daily task list and allocate blocks of time to each task accordingly. Block the time out in your work calendar or create an hour by hour task list. This may take some trial and error whilst you figure out how much time it takes you to complete your routine tasks but stick with it because it’s a great way to stay on top of your priorities. Set a timer so that you’re effectively working to a deadline for each task and work out how much time it takes you to complete them. Once you’ve been doing this for a few weeks, you’ll be able to easily plan your time around your tasks.
Tidy space, tidy mind! Sitting down at a cluttered workspace is not going to be beneficial to your productivity. There may be numerous things around to distract you or you could feel as though you are psychologically being trapped by your workload. Having a tidy desk and working area helps to make you feel unencumbered and free to get going with your day. It just makes you feel better overall. Clutter is not only a distraction, it makes you feel eager to get away from it too! Tidying will help you to stay focused and actually want to be in the room where you are working.
Procrastination Proof Your Workspace
As well as decluttering your workspace, ensure that you cut off your avenues of procrastination. What do I mean by this? Primarily, it’s about getting rid of your distractions. Our mobile phones are a big area of procrastination. It’s so easy to just have a quick look at our social media, only to end up scrolling through our newsfeed for half an hour or more. Try putting your phone away in a drawer whilst you are working so that you can ignore it unless someone actually calls you.
As well as your phone, try to remove anything else that might distract you such as the book you’re currently reading or the picture you’re drawing or any kind other kind of hobby-related distraction. Remember, the point of staying focused on your work is to free up more time for your hobbies and the things you enjoy. Get the work done first, then have the fun!
Know when to say ‘no’. Be conscious of your priorities for the day so that you don’t end up overcommitting yourself. If you’re a manager, try and delegate minor tasks where you can. If your boss wants you to take on any last-minute tasks or projects make sure that you realistically have enough time to complete them, as well as your own tasks. If you don’t, then let them know. Make them aware of your current deadlines and ask them if there is any flex – if there isn’t then you have to be honest with them and tell them that you’re just not going to get it all done. You shouldn’t have to wear yourself out trying to hit unrealistic targets.
Make Quick Decisions
During the day, the simple of act of making a decision can often take up more of your time then you realise as you think things over and weigh your options around what to do with a task or project. The reality is that you’ll often waste time making a decision because the conclusion you come to after thinking about it for a few minutes will most likely end up being the option you go with after thinking about it for 20 minutes. Follow your instincts and claim back your time as a result!
Take Regular Breaks
It may seem counterintuitive but taking regular breaks for yourself throughout the day can actually increase your productivity. Moving from one task to another and getting things done requires a lot of energy and focus. It’s easy for you to wear yourself out, start to feel tired and start finding it difficult to concentrate. Lack of focus then leads to mistakes which ultimately will mean that you have to spend more time than you had planned on a task. To combat this, take a break. Step away from your desk, make yourself a tea or coffee or go for a walk. You need these quick breaks throughout the day to refocus your energy and rest your mind. You’ll be a lot more productive in the long run.
Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is essential for our wellbeing. When we don’t get enough sleep, we end up feeling tired, cranky and find it difficult to concentrate. If you’re going to bed late every evening and waking up early every morning, you’re going to end up exhausted and unproductive. You’ll end up making mistakes and slowly the ticks on your ‘To-Do’ list will start to decrease and you just won’t get as much done. This will then lead to you having to work longer and have a knock on effect on all the other priorities and goals in your life. Getting a good night’s sleep should be number one on your self-care priority list. Without it, everything else goes off the rails.
Being in a healthy frame of mind makes a huge difference to our productivity and our perspective. Staying healthy and keeping active makes us feel good which leads to greater productivity and increased positivity. Making small, simple, healthy changes to our diets and our exercise regime can improve our lives, help us get more done and ultimately help us to achieve our goals.
Switch Off the Day
At the end of the day, when you’ve gotten your work done and crossed some chores off your list, it’s time to switch off the day, rest and recharge. No looking at emails at 9pm at night and no logging on to your work laptop over the weekend. You need that downtime to help you to stay productive.
Our brains require different stimulae and a chance to subconsciously process our day. Working beyond eight hours a day on a regular basis can lead to increased stress levels and the risk of burnout. Even if you haven’t got everything done on your list, you need to know when to call it a day for your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Self-care first!
We hope that these tips for managing your time more effectively help you to get more done in a day and to feel more organised and less stressed. We’re all different and there is no hard or fast rule to helping you manage your time more effectively. Try them out and find out what works for you. Until next time, we’re off to put our feet up…