How To...Manage Your Time
If you’re anything like me, you have a million things on your plate at any given time and managing your time is not only a desire…it’s a requirement. Who would’ve thought that 24 hours would never feel like enough hours in a given day, but that’s the reality of so many. Beyond work we often have family, friends, volunteer, fun, and church obligations that all want a piece of our time. The key to being successful is learning to manage your time in a way that all of the pieces of your puzzle begin to work together seamlessly.
1. Recognize how much time is available to you
The first time my idea of “I don’t have time” was challenged, it was absolutely mind blowing. Here I was thinking that there was literally no time for me to do anything beyond go to work and come home…and that was quickly shut down. Here’s a little bit of math for you to apply to your life:
24 Hours a day * 7 days a week = 168 hours a week
168 - 56 hours of sleep (8/night) – 70 hours of work (worst case scenario for me) – 12 hours of commute
= 30 hours of free time WORST CASE SCENARIO
24 Hours a day * 7 days a week = 168 hours a week
168 hours – 42 hours of sleep (6/night) – 40 hours of work – 10 hours of commute
= 76 hours of free time
When I thought about it from that perspective I had to have an honest conversation with myself to truly understand where exactly am I spending 30 – 76 hours of my time for me to be able to say with boldness that “I don’t have time”. If you have ever felt like you may not have time to do something, I challenge you to take genuine inventory over where you might be spending your time. Additionally, evaluate how much time you spend procrastinating or moving slow throughout the day…that’s an easy way to lose time without even realizing it.
2. Get organized
One of the most important pieces to managing your time is getting organized in a way that works for you. This may require some trial and error while finding an organization system that fits your needs and works based on your personality traits. For me, scheduling my time is the most effective way to make good use of my time and ensuring that I get done what I need to get done in a timely manner. I recently found an app called “Planner Pro” and it has revolutionized my organization game (possibly for life!). In this app it incorporates my several different calendars, I can schedule tasks that are due on certain days, and it will send reminders for tasks that are due on today. It has proven to be a one stop shop for all of my organization needs.
One main benefit has been the elimination of getting overwhelmed with all I have to do because it allows me to just focus on what’s due today and it organizes my to-do list by what’s due next. Having everything in one place is so helpful and allows me to stay focused and if I get done with today’s task with extra time to spare, I can work on future projects in an appropriate order. These are only suggestions based on what has worked for me, I encourage you to try different things until you have a grasp on what works well for you! Organization is a personal journey and the only person who can give you the roadmap is you!
3. Place limits on your time
Just like with your money, if you do not manage and obligate your time, someone will gladly obligate it for you. Learn to control your time by placing limits on your time and take ownership of the time you are given every single day. It’s perfectly fine to enjoy your time with family and it’s acceptable to rest and relax, but you have to place limits on when you can do that. When I’m thinking about my schedule, I start with what schedule constraints I have, then what I MUST do and with the time that’s left I fill in space with fun or relaxation time.
Along those lines it is perfectly acceptable to say “no, I can’t” or “I have to leave” regardless of what the current engagement is. Learn to drive yourself so that you can leave when you’re ready, or pack your laptop so you can work when you’re ready to, and do whatever you need to do in order to ensure that you’re able to have control over your time. It’s the same concept as not having a budget for your money, you have to budget your time as well to account for your time. And I don’t know what your budget looks like but I have fun set aside in my time and money budgets, because balance is key!
4. You can have it all…one thing at a time
The idea of “having it all” has always been a controversial one because many people will say you can’t possibly have it all. However, I firmly believe that you can have it all you just have to define for yourself what “It all” looks like and ensure that you’re focusing on one thing at a time. Have you ever heard the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none” well it’s because in order to master a skill you have to focus your energy, time, and attention on that. But that doesn’t mean you can’t master multiple things, perhaps just learning to juggle your responsibilities effectively.
When you’re juggling you’re only able to hold one or two balls at any given point while the others are in the air. The same holds true when you’re thinking about juggling your responsibilities, you have to prioritize each day and understand what is most important in each given day. You can do it all, but one thing at a time! You may not be perfect every day and there may be something you’ll drop the ball on…pick up the pieces and move forward in the right direction!
5. Prioritize your time
Each and every day, week, and month you need to evaluate what you primary focuses will be in order to reach your goals. What will you prioritize in order to take the next step in life? In this season of your life, what will have your time and why is your time valued in that arena? Sometimes things have to be put on the back burner in order to focus heavily on a different area of your life. For example, there are days when my only priority is being a cheer coach, usually those days are when we have competitions or big functions. There are other days when my main priority is being an active part of my sorority, and those days are usually when we have conferences and meetings. Then there are days when I have to balance my responsibilities while managing them all, but even in those days I can only work on one task at a time.
What are you willing to focus on while allowing other things to sit on the back burner? Whatever that sacrifice is ensure it’s worth it in the end. Set your intention for each day by understanding what’s important for you to be focusing on today, and as things come to distract you maintain your focus for the day. Even if you have to put your phone on airplane mode in order to stay focused, do what you must!
*Bonus* Schedule your fun!
Don’t be so uptight with your time that you forget to enjoy yourself a little bit! My favorite part in managing my time is rewarding myself with relaxation and fun, with the highlights of my week being my weekly Sabbaths! Plan your time effectively so that it can include doing the things you enjoy and want to do just because. Go out, get a little social, and ensure you’re living your best life! Ensure that your sacrifices are worth it in the end! Work hard, play harder!