Feel like there are never enough hours in the day? You’re not alone. People with good time management skills are a rare find – we often spend so much time stressing about some daunting task instead of actually doing something productive and before you know it, the day is over and you haven’t achieved anything other than the bite marks on the back end of a pencil! Here are a few tips to change that – fast!
Make a list
Writing down a list of all your tasks will make planning the day easier and take a weight off of your mind – if it’s on the list, there’s no danger of forgetting it, so it won’t keep you awake at night. And then there’s the fantastic feeling of being able to cross something off of your list!
A trick to try for extra efficiency is to put tasks in columns according to whether they involve calls, emails or other jobs. You could also try colour-coding your tasks – ideal for lovers of interesting stationery options – or highlighting the three most important tasks to accomplish in one day.
Haven’t accomplished a task or two? Tomorrow is another day, so write it on tomorrow’s list and cross out or throw away the one that you’re done with.
Master the art of saying no
Once you’ve compiled a list of everything you have to do, it’s easy to see which tasks are urgent and which ones aren’t, and even the ones you shouldn’t do at all. Taking on more than you can handle can burn you out, making you more stressed and unproductive, so learn to say no, delay things that aren’t urgent and delegate tasks where necessary.
If you have a lot on your plate, avoid putting yourself in situations where you can be easily distracted. This means no social media, no emails and no texting – if someone desperately needs to get hold of you, they’ll call. We’re sure your friends will still remember who you are even if they can only speak to you after 5pm!
Taking a break in between tasks can help you clear your mind and relax so that when you’re ready to focus for your next task. Aim to take short breaks – the kind where you stretch your legs and refill your water glass – every 45 minutes. A longer break every few hours should involve getting some exercise or fresh air, and actually leaving the house, library or office – lunch breaks are there for a very good reason!
Switch off after hours
If you’re working in a high pressure environment, it may feel like ‘cheating’ to leave your job behind at the office, but it’s actually essential for productivity to have some time to yourself. If there are times when you need to access work emails after hours, set your phone to only receive mails when you choose to download them, so that you avoid constant notifications while you’re trying to recharge.
If you’re working from home or studying, this is even harder, but do your best to set aside time for yourself – and that doesn’t mean running errands, it means doing something that you enjoy. Spending time with your friends? Leave your phone in your handbag and don’t check it constantly. Exercising? Just leave the phone at home!
Mark milestones on the way to achieving your goals by doing things that you enjoy. Sure, you can’t throw a party every time you get something done, but eat a healthy treat, call a friend to catch up or give yourself a manicure when you know that you deserve it.
Keep a reward waiting for you at the finish line to motivate you – when you scratch the last item off your list or complete a big project, it’s celebration time! Meeting up with friends for drinks is a good way to celebrate, but if you’re too exhausted, snuggling on the couch with a movie and popcorn is a great way to unwind – and a real treat.
Money stressing you out? Read our top saving tips, here.