3 Tweaks for improved time management

Do you ever feel that you have more duties and commitments than you have time for? If so, I want to share three things you can try to implement in your life to improve your time management.

I work constantly on all of these, and I want you to feel empowered about different things you can adjust in your life. You are the one choosing what you are doing or not. Managing time and your life is a lifetime practice which will have its ups and downs for unexpected things are bound to happen. Be kind to yourself while you set out to shift things.

1. Plan your day

You might feel so rushed that you are feeling that you haven’t got time to plan your day, but it is important. A plan will give you an idea what to do next and you don’t spend time wondering about it.

At least jot down the things you need to do the next day, if a longer time-span feels like too much for now. Be realistic, is there already too much? A good idea is to list the six most important things you need to get done. I don’t tend to add daily routine things on the list but will count them in when thinking how many other things I can add in.

Making up a list of six most important things to do (on paper or digitally) helps you focus your thoughts and improves time management.
Writing a list of 6 most important things to do in a day might help you focus on the things that need doing. If the tasks are time, or energy, consuming, you can have less but don’t add more. Keeping it to six will be hard at first but it will help you learn prioritising.

Place the thing you find hardest to do on top of the list. Doing the thing you dislike most or are scared of is best to do when you have the most energy and you haven’t used up your willpower yet. If you don’t get all the things done, just put them on top of the list for the next day. If six is consistently too much, pick another number. After burning out I started from one thing.

Don’t be discouraged if at first you make a list and only get one thing done and after that you can’t even remember to look at the list. Have it in a prominent place or on your phone with reminders throughout the day. You are building a practice of more focus and organisation, not magically doing a lot more in a day.

2. Check who is setting your priorities

The days don’t often go as you planned. Something happens that derails you from the things you intended to do and you might feel frustrated about that. Here I find it is helpful to see what derailed you. A train being cancelled or child being ill are things that can’t be helped but often the effects can be minimised by altering the plans.

If you end up reacting constantly to things other people throw at you, you might need to learn to set some boundaries. Those of us who are people-pleasers this can find this very difficult. Practice with more neutral things – when a friend asks you to have coffee, you could say that unfortunately you can’t today but would love to meet up another day, instead of saying yes by default so that you don’t hurt their feelings.

At work this might be limiting the time you are chatting off-topic with colleagues or setting up disturbance-free time in the office. This might take some communicating with colleagues and your superiors but a way to have less distractions should be possible to organise.

Reducing the amount of notifications on your phone will limit the amount of distractions you have. Having your phone on 'do not distrub' mode on default mutes everything you haven't made an exception for.
Your phone might be your main distraction during your day. There’s a myriad of notifications that pop up even if no one calls or texts you. You might want to put your phone on ‘do not disturb’ mode, which will mute anything that you haven’t separately allowed. It might be a good idea also to turn off notifications on apps that aren’t important in your day to day.

3. Track your time

It’s a good idea to track where your time goes. Just making note what time it is when you start and finish something might make you realise that you are underestimating how long things take. Writing things down is typically more powerful and you are likely to be more mindful about your time. You could track your time for a whole week but just a day or two can already help you recognise some pitfalls.

There are various apps that also track, and if needed, limit your time on different apps and such programmes are available also for computers. Look some up and try one to see if it helps you being more aware of how much time is spent on different tasks or if you have built unconscious habits which aren’t helpful.

Have a look for different apps and programs to track and limit time spend on devices and try one or two to see if that helps you stay accountable.
There are different types of apps and programmes for logging your time and tracking usage of devices. You can have a look if there’s any you find helpful. Pen and paper also work well!

If you find yourself falling back to your old ways, take note and try to pin down the reason for that. Could you adjust something to make the strategy to work for you? Do send me a comment here how you are finding these first initial steps and if you want to go deeper on the subject. There are various other things one can look at, I find it is good to start to do one or two things well instead of trying to fix everything at once. Good luck!