8 ways to manage your time better
Whether you work full-time, from home, or simply have the hardest job in the world – that of being a full-time parent – use these tips to get your life back into shape
Where does the time go? From the moment that alarm clock goes off (or, more likely, your little one starts jumping on your head) to the time you collapse exhausted into bed, the hours can fly by in a blink of an eye.
If you feel like you’re constantly chasing your tail and never really get anything done, you could really benefit from some simple tweaks to your day that could make all the difference.
And with International Women’s Day this month, we want to help working women be at their best¬ – and yes that of course includes full-time mums ¬¬– so read on for our savvy time-management tips.
1. Create the right setting
Arrange your desk or workstation so everything you need is in easy reach – and, no, that doesn’t include the biscuit tin! Ensure there are minimal distractions – for example if you work from home, ensure your office is in a different room to the TV, or at the least facing away from it!
Also, make sure you’re comfortable – to help with this see our article on Tips for back pain relief and prevention.
2. Make a to do list
Ticking jobs off feels great and helps you prioritise so tasks can be worked through one at a time rather than piled up and left half-achieved.
Even better, make your to-do list for the next day before you finish up. This way you can get it down on paper while you’re still in “work mode” and it will stop your to-dos from buzzing around your head. Plus you’ll know exactly what to get started on as soon as you start the next day, so you won’t waste any time.
3. How much time do you really have?
Break your to-do list into hours and be realistic about what you can do in that time so you don’t feel pressured.
You’ll be surprised how much more you can get done if you view the day in bite-size chunks, rather than one lump that seemingly disappears before you’ve even had the chance for a cup of tea!
4. Deal with the tough stuff
Getting that task you’ve been dreading done and dusted first thing is super-rewarding and will motivate you to crack on with the rest of the day.
Alternatively, pay attention to when you are at your best. For some people it’s first thing, others get their energy spurt after lunch and so on. Figure out when your high-functioning time is, and blitz through your tricky tasks then.
5. Don’t over-promise.
If you are snowed under, don’t agree to a new task you are almost sure you can’t fulfil – it will just add to your stress. You can be constructive in offering an alternative, eg, “I can get that report done but not until tomorrow morning.’ This is a more positive solution than saying “no” or missing a deadline.
It’s the same with the kids – don’t promise them a trip to the park if you have a busy day already. Instead, make sure you schedule an hour in for that later in the week.
6. Block out your email time
Reserve checking your emails to certain times of the day, otherwise it can get out of control. For example, 20 minutes first thing, after lunch, and before you finish. If anyone needs you urgently – and we mean urgently ¬– they can call.
7. Identify distractions
Catching up with colleagues, grabbing a coffee, listening to the radio, raiding the fridge… these distractions can all-too-easily add up and, before you know it, you haven’t got any actual work done.
Ring-fence specific times in the day for these moments, rather than letting interruptions break your concentration.
8. Drink water
Staying hydrated helps you concentrate, so keep a bottle of water at your desk. Refuel with food, too. Check out our healthy snack ideas for all-day energy to really keep you going.
Do you have any savvy time-management tips? Share them in the comments section below.