How many times have you said “If only I had more time” or “I wish I had more time in the day”? We often say this means that if we had more time, we would get the rest we needed or slow down to a more normal pace.
But if we do have more hours in the day, we’re likely to fill those hours with more things at once, instead of creating the space we need for much-needed breaks.
We really don’t need more time. What we really need are strategies for better time management.
The concept of time management is not new: most of us have tons of schedules, planners, and cheat sheets. But what’s missing is making sure the schedule works not just for your work, family, friends, and commitments, but for the priorities, decisions, and boundaries you need.
Too many professionals put their time last. Here are three time management tips to help you achieve a better work-life balance:
Effective time management starts with setting priorities. Start by making a list of all the tasks you must complete this week. When you’re done with your list, go back to the top of the list and add your name. If your name or something to do for yourself is already on the list, pat yourself on the back and make sure it’s at the top.
It’s easy to work non-stop if you don’t start setting aside some time for yourself. While you may get a lot done at first, eventually you will burn out and your work and personal life will suffer. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance should always be part of your list of priorities.
make a decision
Now that you have your list, you need to make some decisions. Unless you do a really good job of filtering, your list may be too long to be realistic.
Make the first decision to make time for yourself. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time to get started. Try to set aside 15 minute time blocks for yourself. Use this time to go for a walk, read, nap, or call a friend. Make a list of things you can get done in 15 minutes. That way, you don’t spend a lot of time figuring out what to do.
Other Decisions: Decide on the number of first priorities. Do you have two or four must-dos? Choose something you can actually work on. It doesn’t mean you won’t do other things; it just takes some of the pressure off you because you feel like you have to do everything right now.
Note that this is not procrastination. You are not putting it off because of avoidance or fear. You are wisely controlling your clock and taking care of yourself.
Find ways to set healthy boundaries in your relationships. This includes work relationships and relationships with friends. It also means setting limits for yourself and keeping promises. Most of us would never dream of breaking a promise we made to someone else, and if we did, we spend at least a week berating ourselves for it. But we always renege on promises we made to ourselves and cross boundaries we set for ourselves.
While no one can work more than 24 hours a day, we still have the power to determine productivity We do it by managing our time.
Managing time is more than the ability to create an organized schedule. True time management means setting priorities to clearly communicate what really matters, making informed decisions that help set realistic goals, and setting firm boundaries that enable us to keep promises we make to ourselves and others.
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This article was originally published on an earlier date.
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