If you are anything like me, you probably have so many things on your mind that you’d like to do yet you think you don’t really have time for it. Truth is, everyone has the same number of hours in the day and somehow some of us get to do more than others.
Over the last couple of months I’ve been working on my schedule, trying to make time for all the things I want to do or try. And I dare to say I think I have finally found a way how to do it.
Understand what you want to do
First things first, you need to understand what exactly you want to make time for.
Make a list of all the possible things you’d like to do. Write down anything that comes to your mind. Then go through each and every point on the list and take a note of how much time doing that activity might take you. This time estimation will be especially useful when fitting new activities into your schedule.
Once you did that, take a second look at the activities you’ve just written down and divide them into two groups:
- single time activities;
- routine activities.
For example, visiting an upcoming book expo is a single time activity. However, learning how to play a guitar is a routine activity because you will need to repeatedly allocate some of your time for practicing.
Now comes probably the most important part – prioritizing these activities. What is something you’ve always wanted to do? And what can wait?
Plan your time
Whether you like it or not, you will need to learn how to manage your time if you want to get more done in your day. And the best way to do it is to put it down on the paper.
First, fill in the days and hours when you have classes, work or other activities or responsibilities that are non-negotiable. It’s important to start planning your time with non-negotiables because these activities cannot be moved to other day or hour. Therefore, the rest of your schedule will have to be built around them.
Then come back to the list of your activities and try to see where you can fit them in your week. Start with routine activities and in the time gaps put single time ones, just be reasonable about it. When planning out your time, try not to cut your sleeping hours too short and always leave time for breaks. Getting a proper rest is crucial to your physical and mental wellbeing. It also fuels your productivity.
Another tip that can help you plan your time more wisely is taking in consideration your personal productivity patterns.
I’m a morning person, therefore it’s easier for me to wake up a little earlier than stay up longer in the evening. I also find that my mind is sharper on the first half of the day which means that for me tasks and activities that require concentration and discipline, such as writing, are easier to complete in the morning. On the contrary, in the evenings my mind is slower and sometimes even numb. Therefore on the second half of the day, I choose to do things that are more relaxing, such as practicing watercolor painting.
Of course, I can still paint in the mornings and write in the evenings if I feel like it. I just know for the fact that doing things the other way round is more time efficient and less stressful or frustrating for me.
Cut the procrastination time
I don’t believe that procrastination is bad in particular, I just don’t like how much time it can take away from us. Sometimes that extra hour or two could be used to do something you’ve always complained never having time for.
I consider procrastination as a part of any work process. However, let’s be honest, there are times when it gets out of hand. What we sometimes label as a few minutes of rest, turns into hours spent on YouTube.
When I need to get a certain task done yet I can’t put myself together to do it, I use Pomodoro Technique. It’s a time management method when you break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by 5 minute breaks.
This means that for 25 minutes you will concentrate on one task and omit all the other activities that might interrupt your work. No social media, no aimless browsing. Once you catch yourself doing something unrelated to your task, without any judgment close that tab and bring yourself back to what you are supposed to be doing.
And I guess my greatest tip would be to work for those 25 minutes at a normal pace without rushing or trying to do more than you would normally do. I find that if I try to compete against time, whatever is that I’m working on becomes a great burden.
If working in short and uninterrupted intervals doesn’t work for you, try to be an active procrastinator instead. If you need to write an essay and you just can’t get it started, take your time to plan it out first. You might not be actually doing a given task but you are still working on it.
Break up with snooze button
Waking up with the first buzz of your alarm clock is though but not impossible. Doing that not only saves your time but also is more healthy for you.
Quite often we think that those extra few minutes under the covers is all we really need but sleep specialists say the opposite. According to studies, if you fall asleep after hitting the snooze button, you’re setting yourself up for a sleep cycle that you have no chance of finishing. And that means you are not getting a quality sleep and also messing your brain.
If you are getting enough of sleep, breaking up with a snooze button shouldn’t be difficult. If you need several snoozes before you finally wake up, try to minimize the number of interruptions. And the best idea of all would be going to sleep earlier.
Optimize your time
Ever since I started practicing watercolors, I noticed that I read less because the time I would normally spend reading, I now spend painting. Even though I enjoy watercolors, I still want to be reading, preferably as much as I used to. It took me quite some time to realize that instead of painting in silence, I could be listening to the audiobooks, killing 2 birds with 1 stone!
Perhaps you have to drive every morning to work and spend quite a bit of your time in traffic jams. Make the most of this time. If you don’t want to listen to audiobooks, try to learn a new language. If that’s not your cup of tea, listen to a podcast on content marketing or any other topic of your interest.
The point is, there always will be things in our everyday life that need to be done and that are also time consuming. We can’t change it but we can try to think of the ways how to make the most of this time.
What are some of the things you struggle to find time for?