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It never feels as though there are enough hours in the day to accomplish all of the things we want to do. It can be frustrating to start out the day with an ambitious plan, only to crawl into bed having only checked off one or two items on our “to-do” lists.
Though there will always be just 24 hours in a day, managing our time more effectively can help us make the most out of the time we do have. The following techniques are just a few simple ways to restructure your time, allowing you to achieve your goals swiftly and more effectively.
Schedule Your Work and Break Periods
When it comes to work, many of us struggle to stick to an effective schedule. Almost all of us have spent hours procrastinating, avoiding a dreaded task. At other times, we may go into overdrive, spending a whole day working on a project without taking the time to eat and sleep properly.
Instead of falling into either of these extremes, commit fully to your work while allowing yourself the breaks your mind and body need. Utilize a time management structure like the “Pomodoro Technique,” a timed system that traditionally intersperses 25-minute work intervals with 5-minute break periods. If you’re chronically distracted while working on your computer, use a pomodoro-inspired browser extension or timer to otherwise structure your time. During your working periods, commit fully to the task at hand. Only check your phone, for instance, during break periods. By doing so, you’ll make the most of your productive time, allowing you to complete your tasks in a more timely manner.
Prioritize More Effectively
Prioritizing tasks can be difficult. Doing so, however, is one of the most effective ways to accomplish meaningful tasks more efficiently. Focus, energy, and willpower all fade throughout the course of the day and the workweek; by tackling the largest and most critical projects first, you’ll likely achieve greater success, producing better results in shorter periods of time.
Consider prioritizing your tasks based on importance and urgency. Important tasks that are urgent should be completed immediately. Tasks that are of relative importance but are less urgent should be placed elsewhere on your schedule. If a task is deemed urgent but unimportant, get it out of the way quickly or delegate it to someone else. If something on your list isn’t time-sensitive and is relatively unimportant, save it for a later date or eliminate it from your schedule entirely. Even if you accomplish fewer tasks than you’d like to each day, prioritization will help you achieve your most important goals.
Set Yourself Up for a Successful Tomorrow
Many of us lose precious time taking care of the “little things” each day. Instead of scrambling to get yourself organized each morning, set yourself up for success before going to bed. Prepare your breakfast in advance, dicing fruit and filling your tea kettle with water, for instance. Write up a to-do list for the day ahead and set out the outfit you’d like to wear. Set your alarm clock on a table on the other side of your bedroom, forcing yourself to get up to shut it off. If you plan on working out in the morning, set out your shoes or yoga mat in advance. Give yourself something to look forward to, too! A hot shower or a delicious breakfast pastry might be just the incentive you need to shake off the fatigue of waking up early. Having a productive, joy-filled morning will help you make the most of the rest of your day.
Give Yourself Permission to Say “No”
Your time is valuable, and you only have so much of it! Don’t allow yourself to be a pushover. Define your personal boundaries and protect your productive hours. Just because someone asks you for a favor doesn’t mean you have to do it. Instead, respond to requests by stating that you need to check your schedule first. If certain people or projects are limiting your ability to accomplish the things that are most important to you, don’t feel the need to engage with them. Saying “no” makes you a smart person, not a bad one! Give yourself permission to focus on the things that matter to you.
Schedule Self-Care Time
Though it sometimes feels like it, productivity isn’t the most important thing in life! At the end of the day, remaining healthy and content are far more important than completing most of the tasks on our “to-do” lists. Be just as vigilant about taking care of yourself as taking care of your work. Set a firm bedtime each night, allowing yourself to get a full eight hours of sleep. Set aside a healthy block of time for each of your meals, too. Schedule enough time to exercise a few days each week. Though you might feel silly doing so, set aside blocks of time for bonding with your loved ones, too. At the end of the day, you’ll be glad you spent a few extra minutes relaxing with your pet and taking care of your body instead of losing precious time to your phone or television.
No matter how organized we are, there will always be only so many minutes in each day. Few of us regularly accomplish everything on our to-do lists! Strive to use your time as effectively as possible while accepting the fact that things rarely go exactly as we imagine they will. If something takes longer than you’d like it to, try to be understanding of the situation and forgiving of yourself. Take a deep breath, make a new to-do list, and set yourself up for a successful tomorrow.
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