It’s an age-old problem. There’s never enough time to do all the things we want to do. If we just had more time, we’d start that project, get in touch with that person, take that trip we’ve always wanted to take. We expend a lot of effort trying to beat procrastination, create better systems, and master time. In the end, though, time always seems to win the battle.
While the internet is full of apps, tools, and quick-fix time management hacks, research has shown that developing better time management skills is actually more important than which tools and strategies you use. This article will cover a few skills and mindset shifts you can work on to develop the foundation for better time management through behavior.
Tackling your time management issues can be daunting. Often it feels like we don’t even have time to think about time management! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, the best place to start is understanding where you’re at. What frustrations do you have around time management? What feelings come up when you think about managing your time?
One great way to understand how you currently spend your time is to map out your days. As you go through your day, record what you do and how much time you spend doing it. You can do this in a calendar, your favorite planning software, or in a notebook or planner. Once you can see how you currently spend your time, it will be much easier to pinpoint specific problems to address.
A common struggle that many people face when it comes to time management is unrealistic expectations. Our schools, our workplaces, and online spaces often lead us to believe that if we just try hard enough, we can learn to maximize our every minute and be productive all the time.
At the end of the day, though, we’re only human. No one is at their peak productivity every day of their life. So instead of trying to fit the perfect schedule or daily output, try to be realistic about your goals. How many things can you actually get done in a day? When do you start to get distracted and work slower?
When you start to notice and accept your limitations, you can find ways to give yourself the resources you need. Try giving yourself a short break to do something fun if you’re feeling bored and frustrated. Take some time for exercise and movement if you’re starting to feel stuck. Often, you’ll find that making time to listen to your body and meet your needs will make you more productive when you get back to work, saving you time in the long run.
Adapt Your Schedule to Fit You
As people are working from home more and more, this has become more possible. But, of course, there are always things in our schedules we can’t control. Maybe you can only work within certain hours, you have meetings at certain times, or the kids need to be picked up from school.
Instead of focusing on the restraints in your schedule, think about what you can control. What work environments do you like? What are your most productive times of the day? And, What resources do you need to fit better?
Whether it’s your office environment, the time you work out, or when and how you take breaks during the day, you can adapt elements of your routine to fit your needs and desires. Adapting your routine to your unique mind and body is one of the keys to working smarter, not harder, and ultimately, getting more done.
Make Time for What You Love
This might sound counter-productive. Isn’t adding something else just going to take more time away? But making time to do something fun and fulfilling can actually be a great way to beat procrastination. People often take to activities like scrolling through social media when they feel that they don’t have enough time for themselves, ultimately decreasing their free time.
Instead, block out a little time—it could be just fifteen minutes—to do something you love every day. This could be playing music, going on a run, calling a friend, or doing any number of other activities. By intentionally planning time for yourself, you’ll start to feel that you have more control over your schedule. When you look at time as something you can work with rather than something to be afraid of, it becomes much easier to build better time management skills and habits.