Time management is less about saving time than it is about effective prioritisation.
Consider this: why is it that there’s always room for dessert, no matter how full you are? It’s because we know how fantastic dessert tastes, so we don’t want to forgo it. Similarly, if we thought something was important enough, we’d accommodate it into our schedules no matter how “full” our day is.
The problem is, priorities generally don’t stay the same week after week, though there are, of course, some constants. Without staying on top of our priorities, it’s easy to slip into time-wasting activities that aren’t beneficial.
Here’s how you can prioritise effectively and turn “I don’t have time” into “I’ll make time” without stretching yourself too thin.
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Getting an accurate diagnosis is the first step towards an effective treatment regime. Likewise, to remedy your time management, you need to know what exactly the problem is with how you’re spending it now.
To know which activities are consuming your time unnecessarily, you need to conduct a time audit on yourself. Once you know this, it’s easier to decide which priorities you could re-allocate that lost time to moving forward.
Here’s how to do it:
If time is money, then you should treat it as such by looking carefully at how and where you can invest your time for the best possible returns. That, of course, necessitates planning. After subtracting working hours and time for sleep, you have 72 free hours a week to use. That sounds like a lot of time, but it’s also too easy to dawdle these hours away unproductively.
In her viral TED talk, time management expert Laura Vanderkam advises using Friday afternoons to plan out your entire coming week:
If you prefer a more controlled approach, follow bestselling author Cal Newport’s advice to schedule each workday:
Though it might seem an extreme approach, it helps you stay in control of how you use your time. According to Newport, the point of your schedule isn’t to you follow it without any deviation whatsoever. It doesn’t matter how many times you need to revise your schedule, because this itself is a tool to help you be more deliberate about how you spend your time.