The cliche goes that “Time flies when you’re having fun,” but I’ve got news for you, Dear Reader; time flies even when you’re not.
Lately my life has changed dramatically in a wonderful, crazy way as my parents and I have combined our households. New routine, new responsibilities, same old 24 hours in the day. How do I get it all done?
I’m a former librarian. Once a librarian, always a librarian. So my first instinct as I realized I wasn’t getting much done was to research. The Internet has a plethora of articles about time management, and I’ve concentrated my new focus into eight things.
-Have a plan. This tip is really the most important. Sometimes it’s great to be spontaneous, but if you want to be productive and you have to get things done, make a list of goals the night before, then let it go. Choose realistic goals and limit the list to several important tasks, prioritized, so it’s not so long that you’ll never be able to finish it. I read once that it’s good to do the least appealing task first so that you won’t procrastinate. Figure out your most productive time. I am not an early bird and my best time is mid afternoon, so that is a good time for the hardest task.
-Assign a realistic time limit to each task. That’s my weakness. I tend to underestimate and then my list is blown to bits by the end of the day. It makes for a hectic, frustrating day. Put buffer time in between. You need to take brain breaks and restroom breaks, for example.
-Put things on your calendar. Most cell phones have one or go old school and write it down on a paper one. We do both in my family and have a family calendar posted so no one double books. My cell phone will send a notification to me 30 minutes before any appointments I have.
-Stop being a perfectionist. Quality work is the goal. Perfection is unattainable. Stop beating
yourself up and let go at a certain point. That goes back to setting realistic goals. Procrastinators are often perfectionists who are so afraid the result won't be perfect that they are reluctant to try.
- Learn to say no. I’m a nurturer and a fixer. Learning to say no is so hard for me, but I’m learning. It’s about setting healthy boundaries.
-Quit multitasking. It’s a myth. It doesn’t really work. Research supports this conclusion. We tell ourselves we can do three things at once, but actually, that means none of the things get done well and we end up feeling frazzled and undone ourselves.
-Don’t check Facebook and email constantly. You may have to take these things off your cell phone. I have a friend who is obsessively checking her work email 24/7. Then she gets frustrated and resentful when her other tasks don’t get done. And often, when she’s not at work, she can’t do anything about the problem, anyway, and spends time worrying and stewing until the next day. If she tracked her time, I think she’d be so surprised at how much time she spends checking. Tell yourself you will check two or three times a day, briefly, and then put these times in your list of daily goals.
-Take breaks. I mentioned this one earlier, but it’s important. I often schedule things back to back with no breaks or time buffers. I race from one thing to another, feeling flustered and unfocused. If one thing happens to run long or gets rescheduled, my goals go down like a row of dominoes. At the end of the day, even if I’ve accomplished everything, I am mentally and physically exhausted. Research is showing that brain breaks and even power naps are helpful for our physical and mental well being.
Above all, schedule time to play. Time to visit with friends and loved ones. Lunch with friends, evenings out. The things that make our lives meaningful and fill up our hearts. And realize that you will never, never, get everything done. But as the chestnut goes, no one ever says, “I wish I had worked more,” at the end of their lives. These tips may not work for everyone. I’m sharing what I think will work for me. And, of course, I will always schedule time for our blog visits.
Have a wonderful month and remember to breathe. You don't even have to write that down
on your to do list.
Clock: Oladimeji Ajegbile
Plan: Polina Kovaleva
Calendar: Bich Tran
I Can Do Anything: Polina Kovaleva
Woman Checking Phone: Edmond Dantes
Group of Friends Eating: Cottonbro
Dandelion: Artem Beliakin