This is the key to time management- to see the value of every moment –
Menachen Mendel Schneerson
With only 24 hours to work with each day, the demands of achieving work/life balance can be overwhelming. More time cannot be created, but time management can be improved.
It seems rather basic to say create a schedule and make a to-do list, but it really is that simple to begin managing time better. Just doing those two simple tasks can improve your life. By the time we reach adulthood most have figured this out. So let’s take it a step further…
One of the most important beginning steps of project management is to set goals and identify desired outcomes. The same stands true for time management. Establishing goals and evaluating them will assist in prioritizing tasks. Many time management strategies encourage the use of the time matrix found in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Prioritize tasks into one of four categories:
- Important/Not urgent
- Not important/urgent
- Not important/not urgent
Another, and my preferred, way to establish your matrix is to graph impact and effort which you can read more about here.
Taking time to plan your time may seem like just another thing to add to your already chaotic life, but in the end it will save you time and headache. Establishing a to do list and prioritizing tasks is essential to reaching your goals. In this process, be realistic and be flexible. The not important/urgent tasks will interrupt your established schedule.
Learn to say no and do not micro-manage. Managing distractions and delegating tasks will save your sanity. When it becomes overwhelming and the anxiety is threatening to derail your plan, take a break. Walk. Move. Brain break. It doesn’t take more than a moment and it will help you refocus.
The downfall of many is procrastination. During undergrad I convinced myself that my best work happened at 2 AM, just before a paper was due in the upcoming hours. It did not take long for me to realize this was a lie. While I am not an early morning person, and I do work best in the late afternoon/evening hours, procrastination created great anxiety and my production was not the best it could be. Be honest with yourself and determine your best hours of operation. Block your schedule if you are able and attack the high effort tasks then.
Finally, periodically take a moment to evaluate your time management plan.
Make the most of the time you have. It is even OK to do things that you enjoy. Not only is it OK, but it is encouraged. There is a lot to be said for work/life balance. If you aren’t living your best life, what’s the point?
Live life. Give joy. Be at peace.