Do you ever feel like your life is spinning out of control? You have so much to do each day, and only so much time. Some days, you just want to crawl back under the covers, because you feel so daunted by all that is waiting for you to do. Well, I have good news and bad news for you.
The bad news: There will always be more to do than you’ll have time for.
The good news: You can’t manage time, but you can manage yourself.
Repeat after me: “I will never get everything done!”
Nor should you want to! Some things are simply not worth doing, Once you can accept this, it’s extremely liberating.
This is not about controlling time so you can race around madly and get everything done. Prioritizing the important things gives you peace of mind, so that the stuff left undone won’t have a massive impact on your life. This is about you, your habits and your attitude.
3 sanity-saving time management tips
1. Use a to-do list
It’s amazing how many people don’t. As new things pop up, add them to your list.
Two powerful tweaks for getting the most out of your to-do list:
- Focus on what’s important, not what’s urgent. Don’t just make a long list of everything you need to do. Instead, draw an Eisenhower Grid with four quadrants and two axes: “important” and “urgent.” The important and urgent things need to be done first. The secret is to do the things in the “important and not urgent” quadrant. Usually, people spend a lot of time on the “urgent but not important” tasks. They feel a sense of failure and frustration, because they’re not moving forward. Not you!
- Always number the first three items on which you should focus, to avoid getting sidetracked.
2. Know your priorities
Do an 80/20 analysis on the things keeping you so busy. The 80/20 rule states that 80 percent of your results come from just 20 percent of the tasks you do. Which tasks really make a difference? Which ones are just time wasters? This will help you decide what deserves to make it into the “important” quadrant of your to-do list.
3. Create your ideal week
If you’re constantly struggling to get to the gym, see your friends or keep on top of your business, it’s probably because you’re flitting from one thing to the next. It’s OK — don’t be too hard on yourself. We all tend to panic when we get overwhelmed.
To avoid this happening, create a calendar of your ideal week. This is your ideal average week, so please don’t just create one where you spend all week sitting on a beach and drinking cocktails!
- Get a large pinboard. Draw a week’s calendar and segment each day into three-hour blocks. Add time for breaks. Time out will make on time more productive.
- Use a color-coding system to denote what you’ll do in each three-hour block. Use one color for exercise and down time, another for family time, etc. Where appropriate, split up your work time into categories, such as business planning and client appointments.
- Make sure your week looks balanced and allows enough time for all the important things.
You can now relax, knowing there are enough hours in the week. When things crop up, swap the bits of paper on your board around to ensure the other important parts of your life still get attention.
Spend some time looking over your board at the start of each week. You will feel like the master of time — your time!
Now you have three simple (but super-powerful) sanity-saving time management tips. Practice using them, and you will never look back.