Feeling like there just isn't enough time in the day? Here are 5 simple hacks to help get your time management (and stress levels) under control.
Constantly stressed and running from one part of your life to the next? Chronic stress - which poor time management skills can contribute to greatly, can wreak havoc on your immune system, leading to all manner of illnesses - especially during cold and flu season!
Here are 5 simple hacks to help get your time management under control.
1. You have to spend time to make time
The expression ‘you have to spend money to make money’ can also be applied to time – a great example being writing up a to-do list at the end of each day in readiness for the following work day. Organisational psychologist, Dr Louise Metcalf recommends starting each morning by looking over the list (rather than being sucked down the rabbit hole that is opening our emails.) “This allows you to see at a glance approximately how much time you’ll need to complete your existing tasks, and mentally map out the day ahead.”
While this is a great one for managing your work day, it’s not too shabby when it comes to managing a busy weekend either. If you’ve got loads to get through, write a checklist to make sure you get through everything planned, and if there’s too much on it, it gives you a chance to choose what to cut, and see what can be delegated (bonus: you’ll know the exact moment you can kick back and relax!)
2. When it comes to procrastination, know your enemy
Procrastination is one of the biggest time suckers of all. The trick is to spot the signs you are procrastinating and pinpoint and fix the cause as quickly as possible. One of the reasons we procrastinate is we feel overwhelmed by a long list of things we have to do, explains Dr Metcalf. “This is where your to-do list comes in handy – if you tick things off as you complete them, it demonstrates that you are progressing and keeps you motivated to chip things off the list.”
Another cause of procrastination is a lack of confidence in your ability to complete the task at hand. If this is the case, consider why you feel you can’t do it – and what you need to make it happen. It may be that you need to seek clarification, or that you need additional support, or it may just be a case of diving in and accepting it might take you a few passes on the job, and it’s going to be a learning experience for you.
3. Work to your strengths
Some of us are morning people and some of us work best later in the day, so working to this as much as is practical can saves loads of time says human behavioural change specialist, Suzanne Waldron. She recommends you get on with the more menial jobs on your list during your off peak time, saving ‘prime time’ for the jobs that require it.
“I also recommend switching tasks if you notice you’ve spent a while working on something and it is slow going – this can help your brain refresh and reset, meaning you’ll spend much less time on the difficult task when you get back to it.”
4. Skip the multi-tasking
Waldron says multi-tasking ultimately takes more time – you will take longer to do the tasks all together than you would have if you did them one at a time. You also won’t do them as well, which often translates to spending more time fixing up mistakes.
5. Do you need to do it?
Look at what tasks you can delegate – Dr Metcalf adds you’ll need to factor in any training time that may be required in the early stages – you need to be capable of providing them with help if you want it done properly, and this is a good example of spending time to make time! This one works really well in our personal life as well – if you’re up to your elbows in housework, or you’re running to 15 locations with the kids over the weekend, it’s time to take a look at what’s on your list and what can be dropped, and what can be shared (carpooling anyone?)