You wish there were more hours in a day because there’s never enough time to do everything. The to-do lists grow, the deadlines loom, and your stress levels rise to the point where you don’t know what to do anymore. If only you had more time, you could catch up and maybe even stay on top of things in the future.
There’s no way to add an extra hour or two to your day but, with better time-management skills, you can get close. Here are three ideas you can implement right now. The results may not immediately come but, with a little time and effort, you’ll see the difference.
Plan Your Day
At the beginning of your day, take a few minutes to make a list. You can keep this on a whiteboard, in a word-processing document, or on paper–whatever works best for you. When you make a list of everything you need to do today, you can assign priorities, cross off completed tasks, and keep track of outstanding entries, all of which make it easier for you to manage your time.
Additionally, when plans change–somebody cancels an appointment, you have an emergency, or you run into a scheduling snag–you can alter the to-do list as needed. This is easiest with technology, from smartphone apps to online calendars to word-processing software, but you can still get the job done with a whiteboard or a pen and paper.
Work With Changes
Sometimes, changes throw you so far off balance that you need a big chunk of the day to refocus. Don’t let that happen to you. When you make your daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly plans, account for things that are likely to affect the schedule: holidays, illnesses, canceled appointments, and the like. Also, factor in some “stuff just went wrong” time as often as every day; that way, if you get lucky and everything flows smoothly tomorrow, you can take advantage of that extra free time.
Of course, you can’t plan for everything. That’s why you should use some of your scheduled free time to work ahead or knock out smaller tasks before they’re due. That way, you can cross future items off the to-do list with a smile because you know that you’re ahead of the game.
The best way to maintain new habits is to reward yourself for sticking to them. What kind of reward depends on your preferences; you can use anything from taking free time to go out for ice cream to treating yourself to a vacation after a longer time period of sticking to the new time-management techniques. In fact, if your saved time puts more money in your pocket, you can put part of those funds toward things you really want, from more evenings out every month to a new vehicle.
Ultimately, better time management is a habit which, by nature, requires time and effort to develop. When you stray off course, get right back into the new routine without wasting time being hard on yourself; you’re retraining parts of yourself, after all, which is no easy task!