Tips For Effective Time Management
11 Mar 2016
By: Rachel Brown
In this fast-paced day and age we live in, it’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But instead of succumbing to the “busy” trap, we can create effective ways to manage our time, applying them to all areas of our lives: work, relationships, health, everyday tasks, and passion projects. Here are some time management tips (most revolving around our beloved calendars), and we’d love to hear any good practices you have to share in the comments section!
Managing Time at Work or School
Learning how to efficiently maximize our schedules in the workplace or the classroom is crucial to our success as an employee or student. Our bosses and teachers depend on us to get things done in a timely manner.
Keep detailed notes and to-do lists to ensure you don’t overlook any tasks. Whether you use an app or a good old-fashioned notebook to jot down your thoughts is irrelevant; just make sure you’re actually writing things down so nothing gets overlooked. To accompany your lists, create a calendar of deadlines and projects. This will allow you to look ahead and prepare for days that may be packed with a variety of tasks, giving you the time to accomplish smaller things in advance so everything isn’t crunched into one day. Set reminders or alarms on your clock, calendar, or phone, if necessary, so you can be alerted of your deadlines. Do your best to resist the temptations of the online world while you’re working; Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, and email (even if messages are work or school-related) can distract us in major ways and deter us from finishing our tasks in a timely manner. If it’s helpful for you, set certain break times so you can clear your head, and allow yourself the freedom to do whatever you’d like during a 15-minute break: check your inbox, go for a walk, brew a cup of coffee, read a blog post. These little refreshers will give your brain a break and rev you up as you dive back into your work, allowing you to knock even more items off of your to-do list.
Managing Time in Relationships
Whether you’re wanting to find more time to spend with loved ones or you’re craving more quiet moments with God, effectively managing time in terms of relationships all comes down to committing to something on your calendar. It may sound boring or dull, but just as you would prioritize a work meeting or a school deadline on your schedule, putting an item on your agenda will ensure that you get the time you want with a friend or with God.
Are you a morning person? Start carving out early morning quiet times at the park or plan to meet a friend for a fun breakfast before work. Are you more of a lunchtime gal? Go for a walk and listen to a sermon or enlightening podcast, or schedule a time to catch up on the phone with your sister who lives far away. And if you’re more of an evening girl? Find service opportunities at your church that energize you, or invite a friend over to cook dinner with you. The most important part is actually writing these items down on your calendar, ensuring that they have a prioritized space in your schedule.
Managing Time to Benefit Your Body, Mind & Soul
It’s easy to put our health low on our priority lists, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle will allow us to excel in all other areas of our lives. Think you don’t have time to go for a run or a Pilates class? Physically write down your workout time in your calendar and schedule other commitments around it. Your muscles and endorphins will thank you. Similarly, create a routine that enables you to prepare healthy, delicious meals, whether that’s by consistently meal planning and grocery shopping or by signing up for any of the cool new meal prep services that allow users to receive ingredients shipped straight to their doors, ready to be cooked (like Blue Apron, Plated, or Hello Fresh). The most important thing is that you choose a path that works for you, your interests and tastes, and your current time constraints. Most importantly, stay on top of annual doctor’s appointments and tests. Set alerts on your calendar to remind you to book your yearly skin check with your dermatologist or your annual visit with your OB/GYN. When it comes to health, there is nothing more important than maintaining your annual screenings and check-ins, especially if you have any red flags in your family’s health history.
Managing Time with Everyday Tasks
The thought about keeping up with doctor’s appointments is the perfect segue to this section about making time for everyday tasks. Unless you have an amazing personal assistant who does everything for you (anyone out there live in this reality?), you’re going to have to do mundane things like pay bills, wait in line at the post office, renew your passport, or take your pup to the vet. When possible, sign up for auto-pay so your bills are always paid on time. You’ll not only be sparing yourself the headache of late fees but you’ll also be saving time by registering for automatic payments, freeing yourself up to work on other things. Be aware of when you need to renew your drivers license/car registration/renters insurance so that you aren’t scrambling at the last minute to take care of the task, which typically brings about unnecessary stress and even unnecessary costs. Mark down pending renewal dates on your calendar or to-do list so there’s a constant reminder of what’s coming down the pipeline. Research cool apps that help you save time so you can spend less of your precious hours doing tedious tasks and more time doing the things you love.
Managing Time While Pursuing Passion Projects
How do we manage to pursue passion projects if we’re already strapped for time in our jobs? Once again, it all comes down to putting things on your calendar. Treat your passion project like your job or your schoolwork and try this trick: create a “syllabus” of sorts for yourself, complete with a realistic, manageable timeline and deadlines for certain aspects of your project. If you’re launching a business, add things like finalizing a business proposal, meeting with a mentor, setting up a bank account, and securing investors. If you want to start a blog, commit to researching template options, writing a sample post, creating a list of topics, and sourcing images for your pieces. By viewing your hobby or passion like you do a work task or school project, you’ll set yourself up for success since your time will be utilized in a way that truly yields results.
Photo Cred: Cathryn Lavery
Rachel is the Director of Project Development for Touch A Life, an organization committed to the rescue and rehabilitation of children who have been exploited and trafficked in West Africa and Southeast Asia. Though she loves working in the non-profit world, Rachel has always been passionate about writing, pursuing opportunities to put pen to paper outside of her day job. Aside from writing for Darling Magazine, she maintains a personal blog, Coffee & Tacos, where she connects with others through food, travel, faith & community. Rachel lives in Dallas, TX, with her husband and their adorably large English mastiffs.