Some people are just naturally good at time management. You probably knew at least one kid at school who somehow managed to be a star athlete, first chair in band, captain of the debate team, top of their class, and still found time to show up to all the best parties and always have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Clearly they knew how to maximize their time to get as much as you can out of it.
What if you don’t? Do you feel like there’s literally never enough hours in the day to accomplish everything you want or even need to do? The following three tips will help you be more like that awesome overachiever you used to be so envious of.
Utilize Every Scheduling Tool In Your Arsenal
While it’s true that computers and smart phones can sometimes make for time wasting distractions (whoops—did you really just spend thirty minutes on Twitter?), they can actually help you manage your day better thanks to calendar applications. The best thing about digital calendars is that you can set pop-up or email reminders in them. If that reminder appears one day before your doctor’s appointment, you’ll be that much more likely to plan the rest of your day around it.
Whether it means waking up early so you can get in an extra hour at the office before the appointment, or making sure that you gather all the medical info you need to bring well before you have to rush out the door, reminders can help you save time and plan ahead. After all, doing things last minute can make you late and harried and throw off the remainder of your day.
Take Advantage Of Downtime
It’s true that we’re all busy, but it’s also true that we sometimes have a slow day. It’s important to take advantage of free time, particularly when it’s at work. If new projects and problems aren’t flying at you fast and furious, take the time to work on long term projects or put together a to-do list complete with ideas for solving problems you’ve been repeatedly encountering.
Downtime is also great for organizing things, whether that means making files and documents easier to find on your computer or cleaning out your closet so you can find clothing with ease. Doing this stuff now will help save you time on the busier days to come. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy some relaxation on slow days, too—it just means you should balance that relaxation with some easy-paced productiveness.
Multi-Task Whenever Possible
First thing’s first—multitasking will only help you out if you can do it well. That means that neither of the two things you’re doing simultaneously can suffer in quality as a result. For instance, driving and checking your emails on your smart phone is a bad idea, but checking those same emails while you’re waiting in a long, slow moving checkout line is fine.
Texting your spouse about tonight’s dinner while you’re sitting in an important meeting is both rude and distracting, but planning that dinner while you’re eating your lunch is fine.
This can also be a good way to fit in entertainment with obligations. Plan to run on the treadmill or lift weights while you’re watching your favorite TV show, listen to that new album you’ve been wanting to check out while you clean your place, or read a book while you ride the bus or train to work.
The key is to pair a somewhat mindless activity with something enjoyable or productive that you can easily accomplish simultaneously. That is practically the definition of maximizing your time.