”The bad news is time flies, the good news is – you’re the pilot” – Michael Altshule
You probably thinking to yourself – where has the year gone???? Can you believe its October 2016!!! Time flies when you are having fun and it certainly does not wait for anyone!
The majority of us spend our days running around, trying to fit as much as we can into a measly 24 hours. We’re bombarded with tight deadlines, sending emails, back- to back meetings, school runs, running errands, supervising homework, cooking dinner, chaperoning to after school activities and in addition to this, you still need your 7 – 8 hour beauty sleep and a social life!!??
The art of multi- tasking has become important to many people which is evident by those who manage to maintain a balance between work, a busy social life and still have time for themselves. Time management is a skill that should be learnt from an early age and built on as we walk (or should I say run) through the different stages of life.
Mastering the art of time management and creating ways to work more effectively will allow you to execute your to-do list with ease thereby allowing you to accomplish goals you’ve set for yourself.
Here are some tips on how to manage your time more effectively:
- Don’t Procrastinate
You probably should be doing something else right now rather than reading this article, but for some unknown reason, you have decided to procrastinate and continue to read an article on how to effectively manage your time – well you can give yourself a pat on the back as you took the first step in acknowledging that you are a procrastinator! Good news – procrastination is NOT a genetic disease that has been passed down through the generations – It is a mind-set that can be changed through hard work and determination. The first step is acknowledging that procrastinating is an extremely unhealthy habit and living on the basis that “Tomorrow is another day”. The second step is repetition – schedule an hour in the day for the tasks that you keep putting off – research has shown that scheduling the procrastination prone tasks to the same time on a daily basis will create habit forming behaviour.
- Work Smarter, Not Harder
A lot of people in this world try to be hyper or over productive – who stick to the idea that “keeping busy” is the same as “being productive” – which is not always the case. Instead of being an energizer bunny in how you approach your tasks – prioritise and think how you can do things more efficiently and if possible eliminate the task altogether. Instead of trying to fit in as many tasks in one day as possible – simplify the way you do things. Develop habits that can help you determine what is important and what is not – with discipline, planning and organisation you will find yourself accomplishing more and using your time more effectively.
- Learn to say “No”
Let’s be honest – we are not super hero’s- we are human beings who are only physically able to do so much within a day. Juggling numerous tasks can be valuable but at the same time can lead to detrimental mistakes. Doing too much at the same time can be going a step too far and at some point we need to politely decline opportunities – quality of work vs quantity of work. Your main objective should be to focus on those tasks that are important and the ones that you know you are able to accomplish. Saying “No” and declining opportunities is not backing off and is most certainly not seen as “being lazy”, it is about thinking smart.
- The use of Colour
Are your office walls painted grey? Is your work space cluttered? Take a moment and organise your desk and remove items that may distract you. According to scientific studies, colours can change our moods as well as impact our productivity. Decorating your office space with bright colours and colourful objects will not only put a smile on your dial and increase those endorphins but will drastically improve your mood. The colour red was found to increase attention to detail while blue sparks creativity.
- Organise your workspace
Designate one day of the week (preferably Friday afternoon) to organise your workspace and try if possible to work in a paperless environment. Organise your desktop folders, create labels and folders for your emails (promise this will change your life!). Working in a clutter less environment improves your focus and enables you to be more productive and thus not waste time.
- Using a Desktop calendar or Calendar application
We are only human and we cannot remember the 101 tasks that we have to accomplish during the day. Using a desktop calendar or calendar app.( syncing your google/outlook calendar with your phone) is an effective way to remind yourself of the important tasks. Google calendar is able to send your emails in advance to remind you of important events.
- Catch up on some Zzzzz
I’m sure you have heard this one a million times before – go to bed earlier!! Listen to your body and don’t underestimate the healing powers of sleep. Surviving on a couple of hours of sleep (or multiple cans of Red Bull) is a short lived strategy which will only lead you to burnout. We all pulled off this strategy in our 20’s with countless late nights of partying and studying – but this catches up with you. On average we should aim to get at least 7 – 8 hours’ sleep in order for our bodies and minds to function at an optimal level. Catching flies during the day (not literally) will lead you to be unproductive and not fully able to make effective use of your time.
- Technology distractions
You are probably doing it now as you are reading this article (Yes, I saw you log onto your Facebook page).The distraction of technology is one of the biggest drains on productivity. There are many different industries that use various social media platforms for work purposes (recruitment, digital etc). Be conscientious of the time that you spend on your personal social media accounts – allocate a time in the morning before work and a time in the evening after work for social media. Just that quick look on your news feed can distract you and it takes almost 25 minutes to gain focus again! According to research people on average check their phones up to 150 times a day! Remove all electronic devices from your workspace to allow you to focus on the task at hand without the constant beeping of a call, text message or notification from Candy Crush! How many of us find ourselves unlocking our phone and staring at a blank screen?
- Take Breaks!
This almost sounds contradictory doesn’t it?? Sitting at your desk all day is not only bad for your health but this believe it or not – decreases productivity. Taking regular breaks (5 – 10 minutes each hour) maintains your focus, reduces eye fatigue, allows you to stretch your legs and improves your circulation (get that blood pumping!). Taking five minutes away from your work by getting a glass of water or stretching will do wonders for your body and your brain. When you hit that afternoon slump – skip that Cuppa Joe and reach for brain boosting snacks such as nuts.
- Prepare those nibbles
Last but not least and my absolute favourite! Instead of pacing up and down to the kitchen – prepare your snacks beforehand. Refrain from caffeine, carbonated drinks and sugary treats. These snacks will spike your energy for a while and then leave you feeling drowsy and in a slump. Reach for brain foods such as crackers and cheese (slow releasing energy keeping you going for longer), berries (rich in antioxidants), walnuts, almonds(increase cognitive memory) as well as broccoli(ultimate brain food) and with a humus dipping sauce.
Each individual is different and we each find our own ways to manage our time – not all tricks will suit everyone but the main thing is to focus, prioritise and do it!