If you’re like most people, you’re stretched thin. You have a job that takes up more time than ever and a personal life with many demands on your attention. And now, unlike previously, we can accomplish tasks through technology—smartphones, laptops, and tablets. However, sometimes, it can feel like there’s just no time in the day to enjoy these advances. So, how do you make room for everything that matters? Here are my top eight tips:
Figure out what’s important.
The first step in managing your time, to enable you to focus on things that matter, is to figure out what’s important. Set your goals and priorities, and then schedule time for those matters. When you have a clear idea of what’s most important to you, choosing how you spend your time each day becomes much easier.
Of course, there are many different goals—from career to family life—so it can feel overwhelming to prioritize everything at once. However, focusing on one or two areas at a time (for example, health) will be easier than tackling everything at once. You’ve decided what’s most important in your life, including this goal in each week’s schedule (and don’t forget the personal) and other activities like exercise or vacation days.
Determine how you’re spending your time now.
Use a time-tracking app or calendar to track how you spend your time for a week, writing down everything you do (if possible). For example, housework − 15 minutes; emails − 45 minutes; lunch with coworkers − 1 hour; afternoon meeting − 2 hours, etc.
Compare this to previous weeks (or months) and see whether any patterns emerge where your most considerable time sucks arise—the more data points, the better!
Eliminate unnecessary tasks
Eliminate redundant tasks that don’t matter− those you have to do but don’t enjoy or aren’t good at.
Plus, eliminate tasks you’re not good at because they take too much time and energy. Instead, delegate them to someone else who is better equipped than you are, or hire someone to do them for you, so they are seen to immediately (more on this later).
Outsource or delegate the tasks you don’t enjoy or aren’t good at
One of the best ways of making time for the things that matter is to outsource or delegate tasks you don’t want or aren’t good at.
Outsourcing can be done virtually, in person, online, and through apps—all from the comfort of your home! You can hire someone to do any number of things for you, including:
- Going grocery shopping (for a small fee)
- Organizing your schedule and calendar (for a small fee)
- Taking care of household chores like cleaning, laundry, and yard work (for a small fee)
Batch tasks for efficiency
There’s a good chance that there are tasks you do regularly that can be grouped. If you’re chronically late for meetings, try scheduling them earlier so they don’t interfere with your other priorities. Plus, if you find yourself waiting in line at the grocery store multiple times per week, make a habit of pre-writing meal plans and shopping lists.
Once a month, when it’s time to go food shopping, you will have everything ready to go. You might also consider starting your workday earlier. Alternatively, you could try staying up later to complete tasks before bedtime. This would be especially so if those tasks could get in the way of something else important later in the day. You may think that going to bed at 9:00 pm sounds better than continuing to work until midnight.
Hire people to help you with your personal life, too
If you want to take on more, hire someone to help you with your personal life. The options are endless: a real estate agent, a dog walker, a housekeeper. You can hire an assistant to handle your social media presence and other administrative tasks!
How much would this cost?
It depends on what level of service you desire. For example, if you want a professional organizer for just one day per week to come in and rid you of all items cluttering up your home (which we recommend), the cost would be around $100 per hour for four hours ($400 total).
If, instead, you need someone who will be working with you weekly or monthly throughout the year—for instance, organizing everything from closets and drawers down through financial paperwork at work—this will likely run somewhere between $40-$60 per hour, depending on how many hours they work each day (and whether they have any experience).
Schedule time for everything, including sleep and relaxation time
Another essential item to go on your calendar is sleep. The average adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. However, most people get less than that.
Sleep deprivation dramatically impacts our health and well-being, so it’s important to schedule time for it! You need to take action on the things that matter.
Also, schedule time for relaxation
Keeping up with all these commitments can be very stressful when you have a busy schedule filled with work and other obligations.
Relaxation helps to return balance to your life by allowing your body to recover from the stressors of daily life; taking 10 minutes or even just 5 minutes at the end of each day (or when you can) will make a massive difference to how much energy and mental focus you have left at the end of each day.
You may have some restful sleep when bedtime comes around again tomorrow night. This will be better than waking up needing an IV drip full of caffeine, with your immediate concerns on all those deadlines piled up.
Grab all the tech help you can find
One of the most important things you can do to keep your schedule on track is to use technology. A calendar app and a task manager will help you plan your time; an assistant or virtual assistant can be your secretary.
You’ll also want to ensure enough rest to have maximum energy for everything else. There are apps for tracking how long it’s been since your last break or when it was time for bed last night so that these things won’t be forgotten!
If tasks require concentration, using a timer might come in handy. Many people have trouble focusing on their work with interruptions from phone calls or texts from friends; however, with a timer, those distractions won’t impact work.
There are more options than ever before to help you get things done
Previously, you couldn’t outsource many tasks because they required face-to-face interaction. Now, you can use technology to make delegating or outsourcing tasks easy and affordable with just a few clicks.
Virtual assistants are paid hourly, so their services are usually much less expensive than hiring an in-house employee. Think about how much time you could save by not having to schedule meetings, answer emails, manage your calendar, and more. It might be worth paying someone else $5 per hour for these services when this is a more efficient way of managing tasks! Virtual assistants are always available when needed—at night or on weekends!
If you’re looking for another way of increasing your productivity this year, try using Google Calendar or Google Keep to keep track of your appointments and tasks. These tools make it easy to see everything that needs doing at one glance: users can color code events according to their importance level.
Conclusion about how to make time for the things that matter
Managing tasks isn’t just a problem for people with very demanding jobs. Even if you work at home and make up your hours, plenty of work still needs doing. You may not have kids or other responsibilities.
Nevertheless, it’s easy to become bogged down by chores and errands that take time away from what we care about. This includes spending time with loved ones or doing something entertaining. So, how do we ensure we spend our time on what matters most? Well, like anything else in life, there are no shortcuts or easy fixes.
Notwithstanding, there are some key steps you can take before making any changes so that your time management will be sustainable long-term: know exactly what’s important to you; figure out where your current priorities lie; eliminate unnecessary tasks; outsource or delegate anything else not enjoyable or within your skill set.
Next up on our list is batching tasks together whenever possible (instead of putting off until tomorrow what could quickly be done today). Lastly, hire people to help with chores around the house!