In trying to understand more about how to manage my time effectively, I have gone through countless websites looking for that holy grail of wisdom that will help me beat the clock. Instead, what I found was that I only had to look at myself and what keeps me productive to then see how I can spend my time more wisely. Looking within, this is what I found helps me master my time.
1. Weekly planners
Daily to-do lists are overrated; there, I said it! Yes, I know it’s good to have a rough idea of what needs to be done in the day — particularly if it’s urgent — but only using daily lists can make us feel like failures when we don’t tick everything off at the end of the day. Instead, a weekly list allows us to move things around as we prioritise or de-prioritise them.
2. Reflection time
This may sound counter-intuitive, but if I want to organise my time properly, I need to actually give myself the time to do that several times a week. Particularly when I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed, I allow myself to pause, take a breath, and re-think my priorities for the day/week. Taking a step back can work wonders in helping us see the bigger picture and take our focus away from the granular.
3. Joy in action
To me, it is important that I enjoy the tasks I complete and while this may not always be the case, sometimes we have the headspace to tackle challenging or boring tasks, and at other times we don’t. If I find myself struggling to finish a task because I do not have the mental capacity for it, I drop it and do something else I enjoy for a bit. This way, I allow my thoughts to re-group and my mind to relax; otherwise, it will just take longer to complete the initial task and it probably won’t be my best effort, which will leave me feeling frustrated even after completing it. In short, I just listen to what my brain is telling me!
The urgent stuff, we don’t forget, the average stuff is probably on our list or planner; but what about that quick email I meant to send or that small change I meant to make in my presentation? Setting a reminder for the next day, whether it’s a digital reminder, a post-it note, or a quick voice reminder, helps me track my action points and follow up on them more efficiently.
A word of advice: observe yourself when you are at your most productive. What is it that influences your productivity? Is it the time of day, a specific place, the music you are listening to? Identify the factor(s) that can boost your productivity and stick with that strategy to unlock your full potential. This way, your time will be well spent, and you can go through more tasks faster and in a more pleasant way.
Ultimately, what works for me may not work for everyone, but I hope I have inspired you to explore different routes in managing your valuable time from now on, and that you eventually find the right balance for yourself. Good luck!
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