It’s Monday and you have tests to prep for, projects to create, an essay to write, and dinner plans to schedule for the week. That sounds stressful. Whether we are students, artists, athletes, or entrepreneurs, we all have things to do. It may seem like we have a million things that we have to juggle and hope that it works out, but if we prioritize and manage our time we should be able to get them all done AND not get so stressed out about it.
Here are some things that we can do to better manage our time:
What are SMART Goals? (S)pecific, (M)easurable, (A)chievable, (R)elevant , (T)imely. When setting goals, you should try and make them SMART! Being specific means that your goals should be concise. Choosing broad goals can make it difficult to know where to start to achieve this goal. Having a goal that can be measurable helps better track your progress. This could help you know whether you are on schedule to meet your goal, or if you need to make adjustments. Is your goal achievable? Sometimes we set goals that are not practical given the time. We should always set up goals that we are able to attain so that we do not lose motivation to create more goals. Goals should also be relevant. If you want to live a healthier lifestyle and not eat out as much, your goal should not be to see your friends socially for dinner 3 times a week. Lastly your goals should be timely. You should set up a timeframe that is feasible for you to achieve your goal. Having too long of a timeframe may cause you to lose sight of your goal, while to short of a timeframe may cause more stress. You can use this worksheet to create your SMART Goals!
Make a To Do List
Sometimes when we keep things in our head we may forget to do an important task. Writing a to do list allows us to see on paper what exactly needs to be done. The satisfaction of being able to cross out things that you have complete is not only cathartic, but also can motivate you to continue to work through the list. You can write lists any way you like. You can organize it by Personal, Work, and School, or can have all of your To Do’s on one list. Here is a worksheet to help kickstart your list.
Prioritize Your Tasks
Okay…you have your SMART Goals and wrote a To Do List, but how does that help you manage your time? Well one way to do it is prioritize your tasks. Just because you have a To Do list does not mean you have to complete all of those tasks immediately. Prioritizing may allow you to see that some tasks can be done later in the week, while other tasks may have more urgency. Prioritizing may be daunting, especially because everything that we have to do may be considered urgent or important. I know I have discussed the Priorities Quadrant worksheet in my previous blog posts, but I do believe it paints a clear picture of how to delegate what tasks need to get done now, and what are time wasters.
Audit Your Time
Another great way to manage your time is knowing how long a task is going to take for you to complete, but how do you know? Try auditing your time for a week and see how long different tasks take you to finish. Once you know how long a task takes, it’ll make it easier to estimate how long something is going to take. Once you know the length of time it takes for you to complete things like, making a phone call to a supervisor, cleaning your kitchen, or writing a proposal for a project, you will be able to prioritize tasks so that you can get it completed efficiently.
How can I take breaks when I don’t even have time to finish everything I have to do? Sounds counterintuitive, but taking breaks will actually increase your productivity. Sitting and working on the same project for hours can actually decrease your time management, and you may not be able to focus as much as you would if you took a 5-minute break. Breaks also help restore motivation and also may increase creativity and decrease decision fatigue. Breaks don’t mean watching Netflix for 3 hours. Breaks should be goal oriented and it doesn’t have to be long. Breaks can include taking a walk, having a cup of coffee, or doing a meditation. If you are unable to take a break consider switching tasks for a little.