Do you feel like you’re always under pressure and never have enough time? Do you wish there were extra hours in the day? Well, that would be great, but unfortunately, no one has figured out how to do that yet. Instead, you have to try and make the most of the time you already have in a day. Here are some tips you can use to help yourself optimize your time management both in work and in life to free up more of your time for the things you love.
Find out where your time goes
Before you can change your time-wasting habits, you need to know what your time is being wasted on. Spend a week building a retrospective schedule where you write down everything you did in 30-minute blocks over a weekly calendar. Try to take down everything you do to fill out all of the blocks and at the end of the week highlight the things you believe you wasted time on.
Identify your routine – and gaps in between
Now prepare a schedule for the next week. Some things fit into a routine time, like weekly meetings or visiting the gym. Fill out these blocks of essential routines you need every week first. You’ll hopefully then notice that there are a few open blocks to fit in the other things you need to do. Make a list of the tasks you need to do before putting them into the empty blocks and include on this list how much time each will take.
Lists and the 80-20 rule
Sometimes our to-do lists become too long and we need to eliminate some of the individual items. There is a rule that can help you do that. The most important items on your checklist should be those that produce 80 percent of your results from 20 percent of your effort. More simply put, try to narrow your list down to 5 tasks a day where the most important item on the list is the one that produces the most results.
Time limits and buffers
It’s important to set time limits for each task so that you don’t get distracted. However, you should make sure that you leave gaps of time between two tasks as a buffer zone if one task runs over the time you have set. Turn it into a reward system so that if you finish your task before it’s time limit you can use a bit of the buffer time to relax.
Group small tasks together
As people, we believe some tasks take us only a few minutes to accomplish such as checking emails. However, when these tasks are interspersed between bigger tasks they can cause us to get distracted and waste a lot of time. It is better to allocate a whole section of your scheduled doing these tasks and ignore them when it is not their allotted time.
Some people might be tempted to multitask because they believe it is more efficient. But research has proven the opposite. Single-tasking is much more efficient and easier to manage in terms of a schedule. It takes time to practice the habit, but if you can pour all of your focus into a single task for its allocated time, you’ll find that you have much less on your mind and can manage better.