Over the course of the last year, I’ve been striving to use my time more wisely.
To do so, I’ve tried a variety of techniques and studied many blogs, books, and podcasts.
I’ve tried deleting social media apps from my phone. I bought a calendar and tried to plan out every 30 minutes of my day. I’ve also tried the complete opposite, letting myself do whatever came to mind without a lot of planning ahead.
Through it all, I’ve learned a lot and developed a method for using my time that I think you’ll find insightful.
It’s important to remember, though, that everyone is different; time management methods that work for me may not be beneficial to you. So, rather than persuade you to live the way I do, I am encouraging you to try a variety of methods until you find what works best for you.
If I can help motivate one person reading this to use his or her time more wisely, then this blog post will be a success.
I’d first like to let you know that you’re going to die.
This truth evades many of us – especially those who are young, healthy, and energetic. But death is a part of life.
I say this not to scare you or make you fear your future but rather to help bring perspective.
Our time here on earth is way too short to be spent on people, things, and ideas that are worthless. Plain and simple.
I’ll also mention that time is way more valuable than money.
If you think about it, there will always be a way to make more money. Time, on the other hand, isn’t replenishable. Once time is gone, it’s gone. And seeing as we haven’t yet figured out how travel back in time, we better learn to make the most of each and every day of our life.
In trying to learn more about time management, I’ve really just been seeking out ways to live my life focused on what matters most, using my limited resource of time to the fullest of my abilities.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
I’ve learned to focus on priorities rather than goals.
Because the future is always changing, goals are somewhat elusive.
I do believe in setting short term goals, typically no longer than a year out. Goals are especially helpful in getting things done on a weekly or monthly basis, and so I recommend goal setting. As a long term time management strategy, though, goal setting can become frustrating and ineffective. Use it sparingly.
A more lasting, motivating approach to time management is to create priorities based off of values we hold close to our hearts, then let those priorities dictate our behavior.
These values can be centered around family, friends, hard work, honesty, religious principles, etc. The important thing is that we look inside ourselves and find what matters most, then base our lives around that.
If you love being with your family, then you should create a lifestyle and time management system that allows you to be with them.
If you care deeply about learning and education, then you should create a lifestyle where you have ample time to read, attend seminars and classes, and teach what you’re learning.
These are just a few examples that illustrate how we should let our values determine our priorities, then let our priorities guide how we use our time
I’ve learned to use time batching to accomplish very short term tasks.
Time batching is a time management method where you select an amount of time to dedicate to working on one thing – email, a blog post, creating the copy or creative for an ad, or any project with a time constraint. Then, set a timer and get to work. Once the timer has ended, the work stops and you either take a break then repeat or stop working on that project. While the timer is running, the goal is to put all distractions aside and focus solely on the task at hand.
Batching my time has helped me get many assignments and projects done efficiently and quickly. Batching my time has helped me stay focused, determined, and motivated.
Breaking up an hour into two, 25 minute chunks with a five minute break in between is my go-to method when I know I can get something done in an hour.
I believe that time batching works so well because it follows Parkinson’s Law.
If you’re unfamiliar, Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” (Wikipedia). In other words, you’ll get something done in the amount of time you give to that task.
Many of you have probably applied this concept in high school when you wrote a 12 page essay the night before it was due. I use this concept every day when I am working on blog posts, school assignments, or working on short-term projects at work. Tasks that used to take three hours now only take me one – all because I decide to get it done quickly then shut out the outside world until the timer goes off.
Time batching is one way of applying Parkinson’s Law and using it to your advantage. I’d highly encourage you to try it for yourself and see how it goes.
Lastly, I’ve learned to set aside time every day to relax my mind and be a little lazy.
Some of you may not need breaks throughout your day, but I know I sure do.
I strive to use 15-30 minute breaks spaced throughout the day to read articles on Medium, watch YouTube videos on topics I’m interested in learning more about, or reading books. I’ll let the occasional episode of Friends or The Office sneak into a break – sometimes you just need to take a mental breath and forget about the world for a moment.
Going for a walk (or exercising in general), getting a healthy snack, taking a drink of water, or doing some small chores around the house can also provide a much a needed break to help us be effective.
Whatever you do, make sure you take time for yourself. Even if it’s just 15 minutes a day, take time to relax and enjoy the awesome life you’re living.
I hope you found at least something in this blog post to be of value to you!
To sum it all up, focus on what matters most to you, batch mundane/time-constrainted tasks into smaller blocks, and take breaks. If you try these ideas and they don’t work, that’s ok with me. Just don’t complain about not having enough time while not trying new things to better manage your time.