There never seems to be enough time to do all the things we want and need to get done. Why is it that some people seem to accomplish so much, while others struggle just to take care of every day tasks day in and day out? We all have the same amount of time. We have 24 hours in a day, which gives us 8 hours to work, 8 hours to sleep, and 8 hours left to do whatever we want. What do you do in your eight hours? I know some of you are thinking “I work more than 8 hours a day!” or “Who gets eight hours of sleep?” Whatever your situation, most of us can use some extra help improving our time management skills. Here are 4 ways you can use your time more efficiently.
1.Take advantage of zero time
What is zero time? Zero time is time that you are required to be somewhere, but are not actively getting anything done. Examples are: waiting in the Dr.’s office, traveling to and from work, on a plane, even running on the treadmill can be used as zero time. Take advantage of this time to take care of things that can be done through your smart phone or laptop. If you have to drive, or are working out, my favorite zero time activity is listening to audio books. Not romance novels, but informational books that will educate, enhance career goals, improve finances, and help you to grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Think about the zero time in your life. What could you be doing differently with that time?
2. Wake up an hour earlier
For many of you this idea might seem like a death sentence. If we look at how we spend our evenings, they usually include eating dinner, time on the internet, a glass of wine…or two, and our favorite TV show. This all sounds great for a once a week relaxation night with loved ones, but keep in mind that by the end of the day your willpower has weakened and the chances of you making good choices is pretty much a lost cause. However, if you are able to cut these late nights short, and set your alarm an hour earlier for 5 days of the week, that’s 5 extra hours a week that you have to do something productive. These hours can be used for work, exercise, reading, or anything you feel you would like to have more of in your life.
Do you ever sit down at your computer to do some work and realize 15 minutes later that you instead ended up on Facebook or watching cat videos on YouTube? Maybe you get up to get a glass of water and find yourself washing those overdue dishes that are piling up. How can you stay focused when there are so many external distractions and so much that needs to get done? I recommend creating a to do list and number the tasks by order of importance. Don’t confuse important with urgent. A phone call from a friend who wants to vent about their life issues may give you a sense of urgency and obligation, but it’s not exactly important when you are trying to get things accomplished. It might even be helpful to put your phone on silent or turn it off completely. You may not have time to get everything done at once, but pick 2 or 3 of the most important tasks, and commit to completing them. When they are complete you can then take on those seemingly urgent issues like returning calls, emails, and doing the dishes.
We all have goals that we would like to achieve, but they can sometimes seem overwhelming, so we never even take the first step towards accomplishing them. Whether it’s a new exercise program, a closet that needs to be cleaned, or a hobby you love but never find time for, if you don’t physically put it in your schedule, it’s most likely never going to happen. Most of us have smart phones, Gmail calendars, or some other sort of electronic device we can use to keep track of our lives, and if you don’t, you can still find paper planners and calendars to stay on top of things. If you want to find the time for activities you currently are not partaking in, you MUST schedule it. (Maybe you want to use that extra new hour in the morning!) If it’s in your schedule, you have set time aside for it, and if you are disciplined, it will get done.