Time management is one of the most misunderstood phrases among people. What should be a set of tools has become a buzzword devoid of meaning. Often we spend our time doing things that keep us from being productive at all (like my addiction to Angry Birds). We always say things like, “just one more minute” when what we really mean is one more hour. Managing time is more complicated than finding more time. It means discipline in how you spend it and deciding what you want to accomplish.
It will be imperative that you decide why you want to manage your time first. Having a goal in mind can really help you stay on task. Are you pursuing your degree and need to read more text books? Or maybe you just want to spend more time with your family? It’s always good to form a goal to keep in mind when deciding a time management regimen.
Next you’ll need to reevaluate your day-to-day tasks. What does a normal day look like for you? Often we find that there are a lot of things that get in the way. For instance, maybe at work the internet connection is slow. During this time do you sit and wait or do you do something productive? During these “unscheduled breaks” a lot of time can be lost. Instead, take this time to reflect on the tasks that you want to get done that day. Keep a notebook in your purse to jot down notes. One of my favorite apps to use is Schedule Planner, which allows me to enter in my tasks and then I check it as obsessively as my son checks Facebook.
Another tip I can give to you about task creating, is do it right before bed. Take some time to think about the next day and what you would like to get done. I prefer this because I often feel rushed and overwhelmed in the morning. Having my task list already made makes it a little easier for me to focus. It may even help soothe your thoughts about the upcoming day – making it easier for you to fall asleep.
Be sure to keep a calendar or dry-erase board near the front door so you can check for daily events. It will be like an extra reminder of what the day entails. If your husband has a late business meeting to attend or if you need to take the kids to the dentist, viewing the calendar before you leave for work or school can be a big help.
Another avenue you may try is ordering your groceries online. This may seem weird, but if you don’t necessarily enjoy long lines in the super market, you may want to give this a try. Alice.com is a service that delivers non-perishable groceries to your door. Community Supported Agriculture systems will deliver a basket or box of fresh foods from local farms. They’re a great way to avoid having to spend even more time at the grocery and most will take recurring orders and deliver on a set schedule.
Be sure to organize your filing systems, this includes your filing cabinet and computer. If you’re busy with classes or other odds and ends, you’ll want to designate folders, either virtual or real, that can keep all your information straight. Keep car maintenance receipts, account balance information (bills or otherwise) and other important papers organized so you can find them later. It may seem like an overwhelming job but once it’s all organized, you’ll be able to find your information so much easier.
Managing your time is so much easier when you focus on the time you do have instead of focusing on trying to create more time in your day. If you can reevaluate how you spend your time and set goals for yourself on what you want to accomplish, you’ll be able to use your time more wisely.
Whitney Jones can be found blogging her heart out over on The Professional Intern. Loved her tips? Then show some love and check her out!