Life is like a big circus act with responsibilities flying in from every direction. Juggling work, family, friends, and personal interests is a real challenge. But don’t worry! Today we’re diving into the art of time management, the key to unlocking a more balanced and fulfilling life. Follow along to learn how to use your time wisely so you don’t have to fear falling off the tightrope into a pit of distractions.
Where did the time go?
It’s 6:00 p.m. on a Sunday and you’re staring at the clock, realizing that you didn’t get as much done as you said you were going to. We’ve all been here before. We all know what it’s like to reach the end of the day and find ourselves wondering, “What did I do today?” or, “Where did all of that time go?”
The answer to these questions is always the same: You spent that time. It may sting a little to own up to it, but that’s the first part of learning how to use your time wisely—admitting that you haven’t been. After you come to grips with the fact that those little hands keep ticking, you’re ready to investigate the case of the missing time.
We know smartphones are powerful tools, but they’re also inevitable distractions. Social apps, instant internet access, and constant notifications often become more hurtful than helpful. How many times have you typed a question into Google™ then somehow found yourself scrolling through Facebook™, or replying to e-mails and texts?
Luckily, avoiding smartphone-related distractions and timewasters is pretty simple. All you have to do is change your notification settings. Let people know ahead of time that you’ll be working and if they need you urgently, they should call you (most people assume this already). After that, turn off all of the notifications that are unrelated to your tasks. Most smartphones will now let you temporarily mute message notifications—even from specific people! So, if you don’t need to hear from your friends for a couple of hours, mute them.
People. Noises. Chores. Other responsibilities. When it comes to working efficiently, you have to choose an environment that helps minimize distractions. Whether you work in an office setting, a local coffee shop, or from home, it’s not easy to minimize distractions.
At home, your spouse, children, or pets may try to pull your attention away from the job at hand—do not let them. You may have a pile of laundry (or dishes) staring you in the face. Don’t let those distractions mess up your flow. Keep them out of sight and out of mind. They will still be there when your work is done.
In the office or at a local coffee shop, you may have people chatting around you constantly, or the smell of someone’s lunch making you queasy. Try to avoid the chatter by getting some earplugs or noise-canceling headphones. As for that smell, well you may have to find another space to work from.
Procrastination and Multitasking
These two are big culprits for wasting time. Procrastination just means you need more to do. And if you already have a lot to do, then you should probably start completing tasks as they come up, especially if they’re important.
Multitasking is a myth. It’s as simple as that. Imagine you are playing two games: a game of chess, and a game of checkers. One is simpler than the other, but they both require attention and focus. If you pull focus away from one, you’ll most likely harm your performance in the other. This is what happens when you try to multitask with anything. Rather than giving 50% focus to two different tasks, why not give 100% of focus to one task at a time? Not only will your work be of higher quality, but you’ll likely finish it in a shorter amount of time and won’t have to go back to fix errors.
If you need a tool to help you organize and prioritize (which will also help you avoid procrastination and multitasking), consider using the Eisenhower Matrix.
Use your time wisely to accomplish your goals.
When it comes to time management and the circus that is life, you are the ringmaster! You choose the main events and when they happen. If you hope to achieve certain goals, then you better pick the right acts to help get you there.
Using your time wisely is all about making conscious choices, setting boundaries, and aligning your actions with your goals. Take charge of your hours, minutes, and seconds. Make each day one where you know exactly where your time went—and you’re happy about it!
If you feel like you use your time wisely, but can’t seem to stay on task, learn how to keep your focus and reach your goals.