I’ll do it tomorrow. I still have time. Maybe later. In a bit. I am not done yet. Before you know it, you are out of time and catching your breath to meet deadlines. Sound familiar? Today, we discuss easy and realistic strategies on how we can allocate time efficiently.
“I just don’t have the time!” It’s a common statement we hear from a lot of people. The challenge is that more often than not, we feel there is never enough time for what’s important. We find ourselves running after it and ending the day feeling exhausted only to do it all again tomorrow. I have news for you… It does not have to be like that!
Although there are many great time management books and tools out there, there are still many people who experience challenges with budgeting their time. Yoav Shoham, Co-Founder & Chairman of Timeful, explains that “…the tools we have to manage our time — such as the calendar and the to-do list — have not changed much in the past century. One reason is time is harder to manage than money. For one thing, it is a perishable resource (there’s no bank for time).” So true! We can never set time aside for use later.
So what’s the answer? Here are some practical tips that can get you started with budgeting your time:
1. Identify distractions!
The first thing is to determine where you are spending most of your time. Are you spending 3 hours in front of the TV and 1 hour doing that report? Once you can actually see and identify how you are currently using your time, it is easier to clean-up.
2. Plan ahead!
Plan tomorrow, today, by prioritizing your tasks. When you prioritize, you know you are spending your time correctly. Explore prioritization tools like the Importance-Urgency Matrix from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Forced Choice Clarification. See more tools here.
3. Schedule your Prime Hours!
David Ellen of Getting Things Done shares the 2–Minute Rule: If it takes less than two minutes, then do it now. Personally I like to start my day with these tasks as a warm-up. For the tasks that I don’t want to do – and I am sure you have some too – I schedule them on my prime hours. Prime Hours is the time of the day when you are most productive. Your focus is switched on and you have gotten into your groove for the day. For me, this is usually after my “warm-up” and before lunch. Identify your prime hours to help with your scheduling.
4. Stop multitasking and focus, focus, focus!
For the longest time, we’ve heard people say that multitasking is a good thing. To a degree, yes. Listening to an audiobook while on your morning run is one thing. However, Livestudy.com shared the results of a study that “it is better to work on one task at a time than try to complete many tasks at once, the researchers said.” In reality, you get more things done when you focus on one task at a time. So.. focus!
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This does not mean, though, to forget everything for the day to focus on that one report. Remember, the importance of budgeting time. In number 3, you built your schedule so that you’d have time for your Prime Hours, now focus on that task you allotted in that scheduled block of time. If you need 2 hours for that report, then focus on that report for 2 hours and stick to it!
5. Track your time and be aware of it always!
According to Ryan Laspina, Senior Specialist at the Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS, “This sometimes can make the day go slower, but if you constantly know what time it is, you will have a better grasp of your time management.” The key is keeping to the schedule you made.
The truth of the matter is, time is a gift that we can never get back. Whether it is to budget your time for your family, work or both, we should all feel blessed that we have time to “stress” about. Let us not waste it by throwing this gift away. Cherish and respect it by budgeting it well to achieve the life-work balance you have always wanted.