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A DIY Solution For Better Time Management

Does it seem like you don’t get much done in a day? Do your “To Do” lists completely fill up the page before you can cross out any of the items? If you answered yes, that means you need to manage your time better. A sensible approach to time management skills won’t just help you do better at work, it will help you get more out of life! Here’s how to take control of your habits.

Time Yourself

Building awareness of your activities is the first step to making better time decisions. Your smartphone probably has a stopwatch function and a note-taking app; use these tools to keep track of how long each task takes you. How long is your commute? How long does it take you to settle in and get started on work once you arrive? How much time do you spend watching TV when you get home?

After a few days, you’ll have a good idea of how long all your daily tasks take. In order to easily process this information, add up the total time for related tasks. For example, getting out of bed, getting dressed, showering and eating breakfast can be grouped into “morning.” Tidying up your place, doing laundry and taking out the trash could be grouped into “maintenance.” But don’t spend too much time worrying about how to categorize each activity, just use common sense — because the whole point of this is to save you time.

Daily and Weekly ”Time Banks”

Think of each day as a bank account with 24 hours that you can spend. A week contains seven of these days for a total of 168 hours. Open your favorite spreadsheet software and make a chart by naming columns for each day of the week, and rows by the hours from 0 to 24. Along the side, list all the tasks you’ve recorded, and color-code them so you can see how they fit into your chart. Make a copy so you have two sheets.

On the first chart, fill in your measurements so you can see how you actually spend time. On the second chart, set up an ideal “time budget.” Start by filling in necessary tasks you complete each day, like sleeping, eating and working. You’ll probably have around 3 to 7 hours left on the weekdays and 8 to 12 on the weekends. Fill in those hours with necessary weekly tasks, like doing laundry and grocery shopping. Then you can spend the remaining hours on leisurely tasks, like reading, socializing or watching television. Don’t forget to keep in mind monthly tasks, like paying bills!

Making Changes

How does your spreadsheet of “time actuals” compare to the ideal budget? Chances are, just by closely tracking how you spend time, you’ve noticed how you can improve your habits. If you’re spending too much time on relaxing or hanging out, you’ll be able to see just how it’s cutting into the time you need for more important activities. In this case, whenever you feel the urge to sit down in front of the television, ask yourself if you’ve completed the things you need to for the day.

If you aren’t spending too much time on leisure activities, it might mean that you need to be more efficient in completing necessary tasks. For example, if your morning shower takes a whole hour, you can definitely work on washing up more quickly. Try setting an alarm before you get in the shower.
Changing your time management habits isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. You’ll learn to prioritize time down to the smallest tasks. For example, instead of spending half an hour browsing email, you’ll get important messages sent in ten minutes, saving the other twenty for your serious projects. Soon you’ll be able to impress your boss by completing objectives long before the deadline. At home, you’ll have more time to work on personal goals!