Do you ever feel like you’re about to have a mini meltdown? Do you feel as though there’s just not enough time in the day to get everything done? Well, if you do, you’re certainly not alone! Today I’m sharing my top tips for time management; the things that help me keep on top of my to-do list and even earn me some well-earned chill time.
At this stage in my life I’m juggling quite a few things:
- I’m a full-time Masters student
- I co-own an online shop called Nook & Burrow
- I intern once a week at a literary prize
- I work once a week as a publishing assistant
- I run the Lillytales Bookish Club GoodReads & the new book club Facebook page
- I run my Lillytales blog on this website, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest (all of which I love, dearly).
I’m really enjoying everything I’m working on this year and I’m so grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way since my move to Melbourne, but because I’m constantly working on lots of different things I often feel like I’m never making a dent in my to-do list or able to get ahead of all my work. Since becoming increasingly busier over the last year, I’ve put into practice some helpful strategies to make the most of my time as I try to be the most efficient and productive person I can be – without having the aforementioned meltdown.
1. Projection – Be Considerate To Your Future Self
Help ‘future you’ out by getting things done now. If I’m dreading doing something but I know it should get done today, I’m often tempted to put it off by assuring myself that it’s not urgent and “I can always do it tomorrow”…and I always regret it. I’m trying to get in the habit of projecting my thinking by considering how I’ll feel in the future if I get the task done right now rather than later. 99% of the time the task isn’t as daunting as I thought and ‘future me’ is always grateful that I made the effort to get the task done in the moment.
I’m also a big fan of scheduling for the future. I like to be ahead in my work and if I start to run behind on blog posts, assignments, phone calls or emails, the panic sets in. I generally try to have 1.5 weeks worth of blog content ready at the beginning of each week as a contingency plan, so that if something comes up or I become unwell, my work doesn’t stop when I do. It requires discipline and organisation, but it’s a great stress minimiser. Website such as Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or Latergram are great for those of us who work in social media!
2. Get Organised
Find a diary system that works for you. I have no idea how people manage their time if they don’t write things down, but that’s how my mind works best. Whether you prefer using a digital diary that syncs your computer and phone, a yearly wall planner, or you’re a fan of the ol’ paper and pen method, using a diary efficiently will help you remember when you have meetings and appointments, while also helping you to visualise your week/month/year.
Personally, I’m a fan of writing my calendar with pen on paper and this year I picked up the 2016 Frankie Diary which I’m loving so far because each week has a double-page spread while also having a notes section which is great for list writing. I also have a notebook that I use just for writing weekly and daily lists. I love lists. I’ve said lists a lot… lists.
3. Find Your Best Time Of Day
I can’t believe I’m about to say this but I’ve become a morning person. I never used to be able to get up before 8am but for the last 6 months I’ve found the early morning to be my most productive time of day! This isn’t the case for everyone, so find the time of day that you feel the most energetic, the most inspired and the most efficient and use that time to get the biggest tasks completed. I like to spend early morning clearing my inbox, replying to comments and tweets, writing my daily to-do list and tidying up my office – all these tasks set my day in motion and ensure I stay productive until I finish work for the day!
4. Be Realistic
There’s only so much you can do in one day. Yes, you can be super productive and get a lot done in a day, but there’s no point in writing a massively unrealistic to-do list which you know you’ll never get ticked off after one day’s work and one that’ll make you feel like a failure for not completing. I heard some really great advice recently which said that we should aim to get just three tasks finished in one day. Writing a really long to-do list can result in you feeling overwhelmed and unsatisfied when you can’t get it all done. Break it down and order it by priority. Stick to three great things per day and you’ll start feeling like you’re kicking goals!
5. You Can’t Always Say Yes
This point follows on from the previous one. Being realistic about how much you can do means knowing your limits. If you work full-time, study part-time and have a family at home, you’re probably not going to be able to sign up to a hobby that takes up the entirety of your weekend. Some opportunities are really important to say yes to, but we can’t always do everything. By all means progress and work hard, but don’t burn yourself out by trying to do everything at once. Sometimes the world just have to wait.
6. Take Time Out
If you feel like you never have time to relax and shut off from work mode, set the time aside in advance. Literally schedule an hour or two as if you’re making an appointment with yourself. It’s so important to take breaks from work and taking breaks really helps you be more productive. If you’re burnt out and sluggish, you won’t be producing your best work. So take some time off, go for a walk, read a book, catch up with a friend for coffee. Just as point 1 mentioned, ‘future you’ will thank you for it!
Well, I didn’t realise I had so much to say about time management but after writing 1000 words about it, apparently I do! If you have any tips on how you manage your time, please leave them in the comments below! Thanks for reading. x