Time is limited. We all know this fact, and yet many of us still manage our time poorly. Two of the biggest complaints I hear from people are that they are too busy or that there is not enough time. I can certainly empathize with this mindset and at various periods in my life I have struggled with these challenges myself. However, I have learned that you manage your time, or it manages you.
Maybe it’s that I am getting a bit older and hopefully wiser about things, but I don’t stress about time as much as I used to and yet, I get more done. I certainly don’t waste it in the same way. It is amazing how scaling back the social excess of youth makes a significant difference. In addition, being a single parent and having kids forces you to get a more structured schedule and pushes you to be more productive at work. I also do my best to avoid doing things I do not want to do unless I have no choice. Just remember, how you manage your calendar is always a choice.
Here are a few things I have learned along the way:
- Make family time a priority and stick to it – your kids will be gone sooner than you think and the relationship with your spouse or partner requires your attention
- Focus on quality not quantity time with people you care about and make the effort to keep the relationship going even if there are wide gaps in between when you see each other
- Seek out, befriend, and learn from other people who use their time well – they are always easy to identify and exposure to them will rub off on you
- Avoid taking on more obligations than you can handle – learn to say no
- Don’t become a slave to your kids’ activities, less is more and they need down time too
- Create a daily “to do” list and prioritize action items as best you can
- Be more realistic about deadlines and how much effort it takes to get something done and always build in a cushion
- If you don’t know how to do something, seek out help or think it through first – learning as you go can waste a lot of energy
- Always ask yourself if you are the best person to take on a particular assignment or activity or if there is someone else who is more qualified, or who would be more effective at doing it
- Try not to do too many things at once, it’s been proven that multitasking doesn’t work
- Schedule free/fun/exercise time or it won’t happen
- Take a full lunch break every day – it gives your body and brain the ability to relax and recharge in the middle of the day
- Forget the “open door” policy or at least minimize it – Everyone is better at focusing when they minimize distractions and people will find you if they truly need to
- Only check your email, voice mail, and text messages at certain times during the day
- Don’t give the impression that you are always accessible and instantly responsive
- Create boundaries such as not working after a certain time of day and not staying up too late if you must work the next day
- Give yourself enough time in the morning to get ready and get out the door and manage your commute, there’s nothing worse from a time management perspective than starting the day stressed for a self-imposed reason
- Always have something to look forward to that makes all your arduous work worthwhile and focuses your efforts accordingly.