Time Management Intro
Are you one of those people who shows up ten minutes late to class or works with assignments either missing or disorganized? Do you feel stressed because you can't seem to figure out this whole "time management" thing and are always spending extra money buying meals on the run or re-purchasing things you can't find in your cluttered house? Are you feeling guilty for not fitting in the gym, time with your kids, spouse, or friends?
Time management is key to working efficiently. If you use the following steps, they'll help get you feel less stressed and become more productive.
- Figure out where your time goes.
Print two copies of the "Where Do I Spend My Time" spreadsheet pdf at the bottom of this page. One chart is for your typical weekly routine right now. The other is for your new, organized routine. Fill out the first chart with your current weekly routine, and fill out the second chart with your absolute imperatives (work and sleep.)
- Reconsider the time drains.
Take a look at your chart and see what your time drains are - the useless portions of the day that are unimportant to you where you're spinning your wheels and accomplishing next to nothing. Did you find that you spend three hours watching TV at night? Or messing with Facebook or Twitter? Are you running up to the store three days a week because you haven't taken the time to make a list? That's a time drain!
On your new chart, reevaluate your time drains. Where could you cut back to free some hours for other, more important things? You'll gain more hours than you even realize if you cut out just a few of the time drains.
- Schedule productivity.
After you've freed up some time by banishing the time drains, mark some "productivity" time into your schedule. Physically set an appointment with yourself every day to manage your life, and things won't pile up all at once. If you gain an extra hour in the evening by cutting back your Facebook time, then spend it catching up with what you've been leaving out – plan some meals at home, manage your bills, reorganize the closet, fix the leaky faucet, go through the mail, make a grocery list.
On your new chart, schedule some productivity time right now.
- Schedule leisure.
It might sound silly to plan free time, but if you don't do it, you'll take it anyway, and it typically cuts into the productivity time. So plan some fun, relaxing things to do in your week. Make them a priority by getting rid of time drains to do it. You'll be surprised how truly relaxing it feels to have scheduled leisure time because there's no guilt; you've taken care of everything else you needed to do, so you've earned it!
On your new chart, schedule some leisure time right now.
- Plan for setbacks.
You'll never be able to stop that railroad crossing from pushing you off schedule. Your kids will inevitably throw a temper tantrum as you're trying to get them off to school. But if you plan for the occasional disastrous day, it's easy to recover.
On your new chart, leave several hours open during your week for "setback recovery." These are the hours you can spend writing thank-you notes, shopping for a last-minute gift, rescheduling missed appointments, etc. If you have the time scheduled in your week, those disastrous moments won't leave you asking yourself, "Where am I going to find the time to fix that blown tire?" You'll already have it scheduled. And having that extra time is imperative to time management.
See? Time management isn't so hard; it just requires a little bit of planning. And yes, you can do it. Take the time right now – RIGHT NOW – and print the charts. Put them in your purse or pocket and get organized tonight. Your sanity, wallet, and loved ones are counting on it!