Do you often find yourself running out of time, running late, or running yourself ragged? Like it or not, we all live by the same rule when it comes to time. It is not infinite.
As much as we’d love an extra couple of hours each day or another day added to our week, the fact remains that there are just 24 hours in each day and 7 days in a week. Time continues to tick by at the same rate irregardless of the number of tasks, appointments, and responsibilities you need to pack into those precious minutes. Taking steps to maximize your time will help you relieve the pressure, meet deadlines, and possibly even free up some extra moments to spend with your family and friends.
1) One of the most essential steps you can take to maximize your time is to purchase a planner and use it regularly. Write down any and every important piece of information in your planner including phone numbers, emails, and home addresses. Keeping this information in one location will prevent you from wasting time looking for it when you need it. In addition to being a warehouse for information, use your planner to take note of all deadlines and appointments — even those that seem insignificant. Missed appointments or meetings will quickly consume time as you rush to reach a deadline at the last minute or spend time rescheduling an appointment you forgot.
2) Consolidate your appointments and tasks when possible. If you have several errands to run on the other side of town, do them all at the same time to prevent time lost from driving back and forth. Flexibility is essential when scheduling multiple tasks. You may need to wait an extra week before your next haircut, but it will be well worth it if planning your hair and nail appointments on the same day allows you to free up time to watch your daughter’s softball game.
3) Think (or read) it through before attempting any task. Whether it be volunteering for a fundraising event, building a bookshelf, or writing an article, you will inevitably save time and frustration if you are cognizant of the full instructions or details before starting your project. Knowing ahead of time the step-by-step process, as well as the anticipated end result, will help the process go smoothly and ensure there will be no surprises along the way. Misdirection and getting lost can cause you to lose a great deal of time. Imagine the frustration of finishing a task only to discover the end result is not what was expected causing you to start all over or spend more time than you originally anticipated. Taking just a few extra moments before you begin the project can easily prevent that from happening.
4) Don’t sweat the small stuff. Nothing wastes more time and energy than maintaining a grudge, worrying about things you simply cannot change, or contemplating a multitude of `what ifs?’ If those little details won’t matter in the end anyhow, don’t let them eat away at your precious time. Life is too short to spend time purposely being angry or worrying. Choosing to ignore insignificant details and letting go of grudges will not only help you maximize your own time, it will free your mind and allow you to enjoy living your life.
5) Know your limits and stick to them. If you only have 15 minutes to chat before you need leave for an appointment, make that clear at the beginning of a conversation. If a task is taking longer than you expected, take a few quick moments to figure out why, decide whether additional time is needed, and schedule that time if necessary. Finishing one task at the expense of delaying another is never an effective solution to maximizing your time. Set clear time limits for tasks that easily eat up minutes. Answering emails, surfing the Internet, and chatting on the phone can easily cause you to lose track of time and get behind schedule for the rest of the day. When beginning these tasks, set a time limit and use your watch or cell phone clock to stick to that limit. (May I suggest downloading Simple Timer — a Firefox add-on — that can time how long you’ve been on the Internet and reminds you when to stop should you programme it to do so – Suzie).
6) Maximize your waiting time by keeping a `to do’ bag with you at all times. Fill it with tasks that need to be done, but are not necessarily time sensitive such as thank you notes to be written, recipes to be copied and filed, or possibly even a small article of clothing that may need mending. If you find yourself with free time while waiting for the subway or in line at the DMV, use that time to complete these tasks. Performing these quick tasks while waiting will prevent them from stealing valuable time later.
7) Last, but certainly not least, be certain to take time for your personal time management. Take a few moments each day to organize and administrate your upcoming day. Planning out your day will help you prioritize the tasks that demand your time and will help you decide what to work on and when to work on it. Using the tips from above, plot out each day to ensure each demand on your time receives adequate attention. Stick to your schedule and do your best to complete tasks in the time allowed.
Maximizing your time can be easy and painless using these few simple tips. While you may not be able to add more time into your day, you certainly have the ability to get the most out of the time you do have. Effective time management and prioritization will alleviate some of the hustle and bustle of everyday life, allowing you to relax and spend more time participating in activities you enjoy with the ones you love.