There never seems to be enough time in the day to get our to-do lists done. What’s worse is that when we do seem to get most of our tasks done, the rest of our life suffers. You might get all of your chores done, but you may miss the chance to spend time with family and friends. Or you complete that extra project at work you took on, but you never made it to the gym, or even for a quick walk.
Taking the time for yourself is important, but so is getting your work done, so how do you balance the two?
I’ve talked about creative ways to manage your time before. Here are some more ways you can implement creative time management in your life, and make sure that the most important of your tasks get done.
Obviously you can’t get everything done that you want to in a day, or a lifetime for that matter. So, prioritizing is key to getting the important things out of the way first. I’m a big believer in the priority matrix popularized by Stephen Covey. In this matrix, he discusses the concepts of urgency and importance. Some things are going to be urgent and important, while others are not urgent and not important. The rest will fit somewhere in-between. The sooner you define where your priorities are and what tasks fit in which quadrant, it becomes a lot easier to determine what you should be spending your time on and what should be left alone.
Harness Your Natural Energy
We all know at least a few people who can work through the night on something they are truly passionate about, without feeling even the slightest bit fatigued. We also know people who have no problem waking up with the sun and getting an early jump on their day, completing more work before 9AM than many complete in the entire day.
Usually the same person doesn’t fit into both groups. Either they are early-risers or night owls. The key is to figure out which one you naturally gravitate towards, and then using that time to complete as much work as you can. When you’re in the zone, you will find that you are able to knock out tasks left and right, making short work of what would normally take you twice as long. Use this time to get more done.
To take it a step further, use this time to dream up big audacious goals and make moves on them. When you’re feeling at your best, you have the positive energy to actually see your goals through.
Capture Lost Time
Most of the time we schedule events, meetings, etc., in blocks of 15, 30, or 60 minutes. We even plan travel time like that. What I’ve found to be incredibly helpful is when I think of time as being more continuous than that. So, instead of assuming I’m going to be leaving the house at 9:00 to get somewhere, I will think of leaving at 8:55 or 9:05 if that makes more sense. Doing this allows me to have an accurate expectation for how much time it’s going to take me to get from point A to point B. Otherwise, I might waste time getting there too early, or spend the whole drive stressing about being late. Neither is particularly productive.
The same goes for calls or meetings. While I might assume it’s going to take half an hour to go over the details of a project, in reality it may only take 20-25 minutes. Capturing that missing time, or allowing myself the needed extra time, gives me the chance to take better control over my time, and therefore my life. However, it’s important to not get too rigid with your schedule, as things don’t always go to plan, and having that flexibility to go with the flow will keep your blood pressure down.
Implementing creative time management in your life is about making sure that the methods you use work for you. Whether that’s understanding your energy patterns, or being more careful with how you allocate your time, you need to get the most out of your day. And the more important tasks you can clear out in a day, the better.