Around this time last year, I really struggled with managing my time effectively for a few weeks. I had been at home for about four months due to the pandemic; and for someone that loves to go out, I had a lot of adjusting to do. I went through different phases from being optimistic to feeling down, from finding fun activities for the period to boredom, from boredom to crying, etc.
During this time, I had continued working from home for 9 hours, 5 days a week. Prior to this, I had worked remotely for a year from August 2018 till August 2019; however, this was different. It wasn’t just working from home, there was the lockdown, social distancing, leisure activities outside were paused and I could not meet up with friends.
It felt like I had so much to do, I was always at home, but I just could not get stuff done. I also felt like I was not able to focus on achieving any tasks. This dragged on for a while until I decided to intentionally take back control of my time and get things done. I decided to study how I manage my time.
Time management is not about working round the clock or not getting any sleep. Far from it. Time management is about prioritising important tasks, using your active hours effectively, taking breaks when needed and also, resting. Time management is a constant process. Sometimes we hack it and we’re so good at it but other times, we could slack and 24 hours is just not enough to get anything done.
Here are some tips that have helped me manage my time better, so far:
- Don’t overload yourself: When it feels like we have a lot to do, we start stressing and it could affect our output. It also gives the illusion that we are not managing our time well and we are not getting anything done; this can be very discouraging. So, I advise that you pace yourself appropriately and don’t overload yourself with too many tasks.
- Set clear goals and prioritise: Have a clear understanding of everything you want to and need to do within a certain period. This should be broken down into smaller bits so you can estimate your time correctly. Prioritise your goals so you begin with the most important tasks or more difficult tasks, maximising your most optimal hours during the day.
- Set a to-do list a day before, with estimated timing: Before you sleep the previous day or immediately you wake up, it is really helpful to draw up a daily to-do list. This sets the pace for your day and gives you clarity on what exactly you’re doing. When drawing a to-do list, remember the tips of not overloading yourself and prioritising. Also, set estimated timelines for each day as this will guide you not to spend too much time on a particular item and is also helpful in not overloading yourself. I also need to add here that we do not totally control life, so we should be flexible and willing to adapt if something more pressing comes up. It’s okay. Give yourself some grace and don’t beat yourself up too much if it makes you not tick off as many tasks as you would have loved to.
- Get a good night’s sleep the previous night: This is easily overlooked but its helpfulness cannot be overemphasised. Getting a good night’s sleep helps one to begin the new day refreshed and strengthened.
- Take breaks: Don’t try to do everything at a stretch. Listen to your body. Take breaks and rest in between.
- Multitasking does not always help: It is better to focus on one task to completion (or near completion, especially if broken down into sub-deliverables) than to begin 100 tasks, not focusing in-depth on any and not completing any.
- Aim for focused work. Try Pomodoro. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. Divide your time between ‘Focused Time’ and ‘Rest Time’. During your focused time, minimise every distraction to the barest minimum, drop your phone far away from you to avoid getting notifications. Put in total focus for the set time and then take a short break to rest. When working with my laptop, I use Pomofocus io to help me break my time into focused time and break time. The break could be either short or long breaks. I really like this tool because I am able to outline the tasks I plan to achieve and specify the rounds of focused time estimated for me to complete them. That feeling of ticking off these tasks is very encouraging.
- Reduce procrastination: If you have something to do and you have the resources to do it at the moment, then do not procrastinate. Do it right away. Procrastination stresses you mentally because you start dreading tomorrow due to all the work waiting for you. You also overwork yourself when you finally do these tasks because you might not have sufficient time anymore
I hope you enjoyed this read and found it valuable. Please feel free to drop comments below and share any additional suggestions you might want to add.
Thank you for reading.