Time Management Tips for Busy People
These days, many of us are giving up quality time to get things done at work and around the house. We run on tight schedules, yet still feel we should be more productive. But at what cost? Here are some ways to clear up your calendar so you can spend more time doing what you like.
Get Out the Door Earlier
Be assertive about leaving the office the end of the day. Choose one day a week to leave on time—say, Thursday. You’ll find that, on Thursdays, you’re more productive. To ensure you get out on time, try scheduling meetings for shorter-than-usual time slots. Everyone will cut back on chitchat to get through business more quickly.
Get Disciplined At Home
Household chores eat up a lot of time. Choose one night to do them and, if you can, outsource the more time-consuming ones—laundry, heavy cleaning—by hiring a housecleaner.
Make the Most of the Weekend
Reclaim your weekends. Make plans to get out the house and stick to them. Meet a friend for brunch, go to a movie, take a walk. By not lazing about the house on your days off, your time will feel more plentiful.
Start Your Day the Right Way
Many people are so busy that they don’t have a moment of peace. As a result, they’re constantly frazzled and rushing to complete tasks, which wreaks havoc on their ability to manage time and, consequently, their productivity. Each morning, take ten minutes to sit in silence, breathing deeply, and plan for your day—and the coming days, too.
Create a Paper Plan
Put your plans on paper. Doing so shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes a day and will help you maximize your time. At work, divide tasks—clients, projects, etc.—into labelled folders organized by colour, and attach a note to each prioritizing the tasks inside.
At home, sort mail daily, assigning a category to each letter: bills, invitations, etc. File these into multitiered holders, and check every day to see what needs to be done.
Use the Rule of Two
Overwhelmed by the tasks of the day? Think them over, then focus on the most important two—the tasks you’d take care of if you couldn’t take care of anything else. When those are finished, move on.
Keep Your Emailing in Check
If checking, reading and responding to email take up much of your time, set limits for yourself. Check your email an hour after the day starts and log on only four times throughout the day. If this is impossible, minimize your email application and check it only when necessary. And when someone sends you multiple emails, respond to them all at once, at the end of the day. Perhaps most importantly, don’t check your work-related inbox after dinner.
Get On a Schedule
Hang a large calendar in a spot you can’t miss. On it, mark which nights you’ll be out and which days you’re booked up. By seeing which weeks are busiest for you, you’ll find it easier not to attend functions that simply don’t fit your schedule.
Many of us put work first and the rest of our lives second. Reverse this approach by carving out blocks in your schedule for exercise, doctors’ appointments and time for yourself.