The most effective way to manage your time effectively is to take a step back and think about what you have planned for the day, what's worked well in the past, and what hasn't worked well. Make a to-do list in your calendar and stick to it. From here, you can then slowly make arrangements on how you spend your time and build it into healthier and more effective habits that can make you more productive.
Time management is about making the most of your time. It's about having enough time to complete all the things you want to accomplish—whether it's finishing a paper, working out, or just spending time with your family and friends. As we grow older, time seems to become more and more scarce. As our responsibilities expand, the minutes and seconds we have available to get everything done in a day shrink. In a way, it's a pain to have less time overall, but it's also liberating to realize that you don't need as much of it to accomplish what you want, it only lies in being aware of how much you are actually spending on what matters to you.
The procrastination problem
Procrastination is an issue for many people. We might not want to stress ourselves out with work when we could be relaxing, we can get distracted by activities that are more fun and easier, or we might feel like we'll have more time in the future when other things aren't as pressing right now. It can be hard to fight the urge to put off work until later. You're probably busy enough trying to manage your other responsibilities, and it takes a lot of time and effort to get into the right mindset and get started on your tasks. It can be hard to have to face everything you have to do and it is perfectly normal to feel like not wanting to do them right now. The temptation to procrastinate is understandable, but while it may provide us short-term relief from the stress of all the tasks at hand, this can also have long-term negative consequences such as compromising the quality of the work that we do and facing even more tasks that can wear us down later on.
Procrastinating can bring you even more stress and anxiety when you now have much less time to do your tasks and can have a negative impact on the quality of your outputs. Not only does it take away the valuable time you could have been spending working towards your goals, but it also gives you a false sense of control, keeping you from taking responsibility for your actions and creating self-discipline.
In overcoming procrastination, it is helpful to understand why you are procrastinating in the first place. Knowing this can help you better address it. Try to break your tasks down into smaller pieces so you feel accomplished and become better motivated to finish them. The habit of being productive is a learning process but it is worth it to do better in school and feel better about yourself–free from the anxiety of doing any last-minute tasks. You also get to have control over how you spend your time. With the right mindset, time, and discipline, you can well be on your way towards it.
Here are other ways to manage your time effectively:
One thing that helps with productivity is having a plan for your day or week ahead. It's easy to get sidetracked by unexpected tasks or sudden crises, but if you have a plan for how you want to use your time before the day begins, it's easier to stick with it, even when unexpected things come up. Even if your plans don't go according to schedule, having something in place beforehand makes it easier to make adjustments as necessary.
First, create a weekly calendar to keep track of the things you have to do. Be sure to include everything, from work-related activities to dates with friends to appointments with health care professionals. Highlight the most important things on your calendar and give them a due date. You'll want to set deadlines for things like projects at school or work, as well as personal goals like exercising at least three times per week or volunteering at a charity event once every two months. Finally, be realistic about how much time you have available. If you have an ongoing big project, and you have another big launch right after it next week, try not to schedule any extracurricular activities so that you can focus on working on them.
Working ahead of time
Working ahead of time can be one of the best ways to organize your time. When you're not rushing to finish up your work at the last minute, you'll have more time to focus on its quality. Not having to cram and do things last minute will also make it easier for you to relax and feel confident in your abilities.
Not only should this reduce stress, but it will allow you to give your best effort to any assignments and projects that are due during those days. The less last minute-work that you do, the better your final product will be. This will also not only improve your performance and your client’s satisfaction but will also give you a sense of accomplishment. If you're struggling to keep up with your work, or if you're feeling overwhelmed, try breaking down your projects into smaller tasks that you can complete ahead of time. For example, if you have a design task due in two weeks, start by brainstorming ideas and doing some preliminary research within the first week. Then, you can focus on actually working on it during the second week. By working on small tasks each day, you'll be able to get ahead of your work and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Engaging in deep work
Deep work is the ability to focus without distractions and to engage in activities that require our full concentration and simultaneous mental processing. Deep work is a lot harder because it requires us to focus without interruptions from anything else, including social media and other technologies. However, it is also through engaging in this that we are able to produce the best quality of work and practice high-level critical thinking.
You can practice this by allocating time each day to a particular project or task and eliminating any form of distraction. Do it in a quiet room, at a time when you feel most productive and energized, and with your phone and other notifications turned off. You can also try doing this through the Pomodoro technique. Here, you will have sessions of 20 to 25 minutes of deep focus work followed by a short 5-minute break. After 3 to 4 sessions, you can then have a longer break.
Deep work is essential because it allows us to focus on a task and achieve quality results. It also helps to develop our cognitive skills and makes us more productive individuals. Hence, by allocating time for deep work every day, we can make the most out of our time as students.
Prioritizing and delegating
One way to be more effective in organizing your time is knowing how to prioritize. Whether you're an entrepreneur, a graphic designer, or a recent college grad, you probably have a lot on your plate. As each day goes by, it's easy to feel like you're constantly working. And the more that you do, the less time you have to actually reflect and improve your skills.
But before you know it, one year has gone by and you haven't learned anything new—you only know what you already knew when the year started. If this sounds familiar, there might be a simple reason for it: You haven't set aside any time to learn. Or in general, you haven’t made time to focus on your zones of growth.
Try to reflect on your current goals in your business or career and the projects and milestones you would need to know you are getting there. Prioritize them according to urgency, what is important to get done and what matters to you most. Beyond that, what are repetitive and time-consuming tasks you can delegate to others? While this may seem like a hard adjustment at first, especially when you are used to doing everything alone, it is possible and much more helpful for you in the long run. For tips on when and how to delegate tasks, explore more by clicking here.
The first step to making the most of each hour though is to know yourself and your capabilities. What works for you in terms of managing your time wisely? Are you someone who can switch tasks skillfully or do you need a solid block of time to focus on one thing? Once you figure out what works best for you, try sticking with it. As long as you're happy with the way that you spend your time and hold yourself accountable for it, just keep going. You'll be amazed at how quickly things can get done when you plan ahead and manage every hour of your day effectively.
Here is a quick exercise you can try for yourself. We will try to see if you can account for a week’s worth of time. For each of the activity categories given, make your best estimate of how many hours you spend in a week. For categories that are about the same every day, just estimate for one day and multiply by it seven.
How many hours in a week do you spend on the following activities?
- Personal hygiene
- Extracurricular activities (clubs, organizations, volunteering, internship)
- Chores, cleaning, errands, shopping, etc.
- Academic work (classes, studying, etc.)
- Time with friends (including television, video games, etc.)
- Exercise or sports activities
- Personal hobbies
- Other activities, please specify:
Now that you have a clearer picture of your time, to make time for changes you want to make, you may need to adjust how much time you spend on other activities. Besides each item, try to write how much adjustment you would have to make on each activity and plan what your ideal week would look like.