Time management is an important skill to practice in our day-to-day life. By managing time better, we manage our lives better. A lot can be accomplished in 24-hours, or sometimes not. Many out there may wish the day is longer than 24-hours, but will this really help accomplish all we want? Below are five tips to manage your time more effectively.
1. Plan Ahead
Having a clear idea of what you need to do at the start of the day can support you to look at the whole perspective. Starting a habit, to plan at the end of each workday the tasks for the following workday will set the ground. This can be done by listing meetings, appointments and ‘to do list’ on your diary. Similarly, household related tasks can also be planned ahead such as paying bills through direct debit, setting dinner in a slow cooker and even controlling your robot vacuum cleaner from your phone. Such actions can help manage time better by investing in a bit of preparation beforehand.
2. Set Priorities
The next tip is setting priorities of what needs to be done according to importance and urgency. This can help organise your tasks in accordance to the time available. Below are four categories how you can distribute tasks accordingly:
Important and urgent
Urgent but not important
Important but not urgent
Not urgent and not important
Important and urgent tasks are ideally done straight away, while important but not urgent tasks can be allocated for another time, perhaps later in the week. When dealing with urgent but not important tasks, these can be delegated to other individuals (if possible), while for not-urgent and non-important tasks, these can be set aside for a later stage. Taking time to prioritise tasks for the day or week ahead, can support you in time management. Time is a limited resource. By choosing tasks which take priority first, can reduce the buildup of stress later on when the deadline is closer.
3. Set the Time
Time management involves setting time constraints to complete the task at hand. This allows you to remain focused and efficient, reducing the chances of going off track. Deciding on an approximate time for a particular task can help you weigh if you will be able to make it or if more resources are required.
Allocating time for any issues which may develop during the day can be a smart way for time management. It is like having a ‘Plan-B’ for the day, to be able to shift tasks around while still managing to accomplish the tasks which were set.
4. Set Boundaries
Maintaining a healthy balance of what can and needs to be done is vital. Although we cannot have more hours in the day, nor reduce the workload, setting boundaries can help anyone feel more in control of time and reduce their stress. Healthy boundaries allow the individual to achieve both personal and professional goals. Sometimes, it seems that certain tasks are done quicker if done by yourself, but this might cost you more time and energy. Learning to delegate certain tasks can help keep a healthier boundary.
5. Self Care
Managing your time well cannot be achieved unless you take good care of yourself. Sometimes you may feel you have little control over time and cannot manage to do all tasks required. The tips mentioned above can help develop time management skills but you must also remember the importance of self-care. You can develop a ritual that helps you allocate some ‘me time’. This can be done simply by muting your phone and making the effort to not check work emails from home. If time management remains an issue, reflect on whether the issue is yourself or your environment. Being assertive and taking time for yourself can allow you to regain strength and prevent burnout. Self-care is not a luxury, but a responsibility.
Time management is the process of planning and controlling how we use time. Having such skills entails completing tasks in a shorter period of time which in turn can reduce stress. Indeed, the individual can be more efficient and productive, while embracing the need for self-care and taking the necessary breaks when needed.
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Charlot Cauchi is a Gestalt Psychotherapist at Willingness. He has experience with adult clients with mental health difficulties, anxiety, depression, loss, trauma, stress and relational issues.
Rimmer, A. (2019). How do I improve my time management skills? The BMJ. BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.