Expert Time Management Simplified, Part 1

How can you become a true expert at handling your most precious resource – your time?

Among the top reasons why people are chronically stressed is having too little time for everything that needs to be done in a day. In a previous blog post, we touched upon the reality of the overworked adult in America.

Overwork is often the result of poor time management because let’s face it: things can get out of hand very quickly if you don’t know how you’re actually spending your time.

Our newest blog series will cover the best practices in time management so you can start maximizing all available hours in your working day.

What are the best ways to manage your time?

  1. Discover Where Your Time Goes – The first step in effective time management is knowing how you are actually spending your time every single day.

In order to accomplish this, you have to start recording your activities from the moment you wake up until bedtime. Do this for at least 2 weeks so you can see the average trend for different activities.

Sometimes, people become more efficient with how they use their time when they are logging their activities. You must not be too self-conscious during the observation period so you can get a realistic tally of how you are spending your time on a regular day.

In addition to recording your activities and the average amount of time spent for each activity, I want you to rate each activity from 1-4, with 1 being “waste of my time” and 5 being “excellent use of my time”. 2’s and 3’s are “a little time consuming” and “good use of my time”, respectively.

You will soon see a detailed picture of your actual use of time as you continue journaling and recording your daily activities. The information that you will get from this exercise will help guide future time management efforts.

  1. Start Transforming Your Activities – Poor time management is often the result of having too many unnecessary activities throughout the day. Some of these activities, such as watching TV, may not exactly be completely harmful if you can learn how to control how much time you devote to them.

However, if you are constantly missing deadlines and you’re extremely stressed about not having sufficient time for all the things that you want to do, then there’s definitely something wrong with your selection of activities.

Transforming your daily activities is actually quite simple. First, you need to write down all the things that you need additional time for. Don’t hold back when making this list – write down anything that comes to mind.

My first list actually looked something like this:

– Rediscover spirituality

– Learn how to play chess

– Read more

– Spend more time playing with the kids

– Play more video games

My list may look silly to some of you, but it is a genuine list that I made a few years ago when I was becoming severely burned out by my work. I was successful in turning things around by identifying the activities that consumed too much time in my day.

Eventually, I was able to make time for all of the things in my initial list – and even more!

I can confidently say that you can replicate my results by simply being mindful of all your activities and by asking yourself if you really need to spend time on the activity at all.

Common distractions can easily be removed from your list of routines if you choose to be more mindful of where your time is actually going.

Sure, you may be spending 8 to 10 hours per day in the office. However, if you’re barely coping with the workload, it’s possible that you’re not making wise use of your available time.

  1. Change How You Do Things – If your days are filled with activities that are essential to your work or family life but you’re still falling behind, you need to change how you do things.

Changing your approach to accomplishing your obligations and responsibilities can help you reduce the time needed to accomplish each task, which will effectively give you more time for additional activities or even leisure.

Here’s a good example – how many times do you check your email every day? I’ve met someone who admitted that he checks his email every hour.

Now assuming that it takes about 10 minutes to open your email and scroll through messages, that’s already 60 minutes gone in a day after the sixth visit to the inbox.

This trend can be remedied by limiting the checking of emails to once or twice a day. Urgent emails may be answered but on an average day, a person shouldn’t be preoccupied with checking his email.