Let’s be honest; even though you love what you do for a living, that doesn’t mean that you want to do it all day every day. You also want (and need) to spend time with family, engage in hobbies you enjoy, and take much needed vacations from time to time. But how are you supposed to take time off when you always have so much to do?
The answer lies in time management. You will always have just 24 hours in a day, so you need to learn how to use them wisely so that you can spend less of them working and more of them doing the things you love. Here are seven tips that will help make that dream a reality:
Become a List Person
Every Monday morning, I create a list of the projects that I need to complete for that week. I then break them down by day so I know exactly what needs to be done each morning when I sit down at my desk. This keeps me focused and on task, and it ensures that I won’t miss important deadlines.
Before you begin your work week, or even your work day, take the time to write down everything you need to get done. Include items such as business meetings and important phone calls so that you don’t have any “surprises” that will keep you at the office much later than you’d like.
Take the Time to Prioritize
Once you have your list of daily or weekly tasks, it often helps you to prioritize them in order from most important to least important. This enables you to make sure you get the important ones completed while the not-so-important duties can wait if need be, allowing you to walk out the door at a decent time even though you may not have gotten everything accomplished.
It may seem like you would get more done if you did two or more things at once, but the opposite is actually true. According to the American Psychological Association, “the mind and brain were not designed for heavy-duty multitasking.” In fact, some researchers say that this way of conducting business can lower your productivity by as much as 40 percent.
Instead, do one thing at a time and focus solely on that. You’ll find that you are much more clear-headed, which will help you get the project done faster—and with fewer errors.
Delegate If You Can
One way to cross items off your to-do list is to delegate them to someone else, if you can. Your time will be better spent doing things that only you can do, which means that sometimes you have to rely on others to take care of the items that don’t require your expertise, thereby freeing up some extra time.
Set a Kitchen Timer
If you have a particularly large task that you need to address, such as a 70-page presentation to compile or a prototype to complete, it helps to break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. You can do this easily by setting a kitchen timer and working on it for short periods, allowing you to finish it over time. Do this and it will be much easier to walk away from work at a reasonable time even though the project isn’t complete.
While it may be tempting to work through your breaks in an effort to get things done, doing so may make you less productive instead of more so as your mind needs to relax every so often in order to regroup and refocus. Take a break every hour or two, even if it is to just go outside and walk around the building once. You’ll find your energy and ability to focus increase, enabling you to get more done by doing this one simple thing.
Write Down Your Goals
Sometimes you can be unproductive solely because you don’t know where you are headed. Even if you know a general direction, if you don’t have a clear destination in mind, it is like you’re wandering aimlessly with nowhere concrete to go. Of course, you’re not going to get anything done this way!
Put yourself on a definitive path by writing down your goals so you know exactly where you want to end up with your business. Read over them every morning to remind yourself what you are working towards and you’ll have more than enough energy to get there while still enjoying life a bit too.
Build these seven tips into your work day and free up your time to do the things you love. That is what life is about anyway, isn’t it?