How often have you said, “If I only had more time,” or “I wish there were more hours in the day”? We say that often implying that, if we had more time, we would get the rest we need or slow down to a more normal pace.
But chances are if we did have more hours in the day, we would immediately fill them up with more things to do instead of creating the space we need to take a much-needed break.
We don’t really need more time in the day. What we really need are strategies to better manage our time.
The concept of time management is not new: most of us have schedules, planners, and reminder notes aplenty. What’s lacking though is the prioritization, decisions, and boundaries needed to ensure the schedule works not just for your job, family, friends, and commitments, but for you as well.
Too many professionals put time for themselves last on the list. Here are three time management tips that will help you achieve a better work-life balance:
Effective time management begins with setting priorities. Start by making a list of all the tasks you have to do this week. Once you’ve got a completed list, go back to the top of your list and add your name. If your name or doing something for yourself was already on the list, give yourself a pat on the back and make sure it is at the top.
If you don’t start setting aside some time for yourself, it’s easy to keep working non-stop. And while you may get a lot done at first, eventually you’ll burn out and your work and personal life will suffer. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance should always be a part of your priority list.
Now that you have your list, you have some decisions to make. Unless you’ve done a really good job of filtering, you probably have a list that is way too long to be realistic.
Make the first decision to carve out time for yourself. It doesn’t have to be a big chunk of time to start with. Try setting aside 15-minute blocks of time for yourself. Use the time to walk, read, take a nap, or call a friend. Make a list of things you can do in 15 minutes. That way, you don’t spend your block of time trying to figure out what to do.
Other decisions: decide on the number of things that are number one priorities. Will you have two or four things that must get done? Choose what you can realistically handle. That does not mean you won’t get to other things; it just allows you to take some of the pressure off that comes with feeling like you have to do everything now.
Please note this is not procrastinating. You’re not putting it off out of avoidance or fear. You are wisely taking control of your clock and taking care of yourself.
Look for ways to set healthy limits in your relationships. This includes relationships at work and with friends. It also means setting limits and keeping promises to yourself. Most of us wouldn’t dream of breaking a promise we made to someone else, and if we did, we’d spend at least a week beating ourselves up about it. But we break promises to ourselves all the time, crossing the boundaries we’ve set for ourselves.
While it’s true no one gets more than 24 hours in a day, we still have power over how productive we are by managing our time.
Managing time is more than just the ability to lay out an organized schedule. True time management means setting priorities that communicate clearly what’s really important, making wise decisions that help set realistic goals, and setting firm boundaries that allow us to keep the promises we make to ourselves and others.
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.
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