Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Time Management Tips

I can’t really think back to a time in my schooling career when I haven’t been juggling more than one thing. In elementary and intermediate school I played club soccer where we would travel each weekend for tournaments. If I was lucky enough to have an off weekend, chances were we were traveling to a tournament for my brother’s team. Once I got to middle school it was juggling sports and school yet again but on a daily basis. High school was a lot of the same and then college took it to a whole new level.

            While I’ve always been jealous that school and learning comes so naturally to my brother, having to learn to juggle a number of different things while trying to make good grades taught me some valuable time management tips at an early age. Just this past weekend, Nell and I were on the phone laughing about our original facebook messages to one another when deciding to be roommate and got on a tangent about how much free time we had freshman year and how we definitely didn’t take advantage of it like we should have. While I did learn some valuable time management tips then I think that in high school and the later years of college were the main periods where I really started to understand how to better manage my time.

            Even now that I’ve graduated I haven’t exactly learned to take less on. Juggling teaching with grad school and blogging and now a social media position isn’t always the most relaxing thing. I find myself getting overwhelmed on occasion and often have to take a step back and remind myself of why I’ve chosen to do these different things. Now more than ever time management has been absolutely crucial. While I am no pro at balancing it all (if it looks like I’ve got it together in one area of my life then I am definitely struggling in another) I thought it may be helpful for some of you to share the time management tips that have made the biggest impact for me so far.

Utilize a Planner & Make To-Do Lists

One of my most used words on the blog has got to be planner. I’m not sure how to look this up to confirm it but I’m convinced it would be. My life would be so chaotic if I didn’t have some sort of planner (or three…oops) to get things organized. My Day Designer is my favorite since I can lay out my day hour by hour which better allows me to find time for everything. The fact that each page has a to-do list is also crucial for me. You’d think I was writing a memoir with how much can be written on a single page but it’s what works for me. One of the things I’ve had to learn over time when it comes to planning is to build in a bit of time for flexibility and down time. When I forget to do that is usually when I become overwhelmed with managing my time. If you’d like to see exactly how I organize my Day Designer be sure to check out this post.

Prioritize & Be Decisive

            I feel like these kind of go along with using a planner and making a to-do list but they are more of a mindset than an action. If you ask me where I want to go for dinner there is no doubt that I’ll be difficult and ask for options. I have plenty of people who can vouch for this. I am so indecisive when it comes to things of that nature but my to do list is a different story. Prioritizing the tasks that need to be accomplished first and being decisive with those choices are important. When your to-do list is a mile-long dilly dallying when deciding what you need to do is pointless. I’m not decisive with a lot of things.

Set a Timer & Eliminate Distractions

            Nothing is worse than finally deciding to start working and getting distracted. With phones and the internet at our finger tips it really isn’t surprising that this happens. Setting a timer and forcing myself to work for that set amount of time. I’ll put my phone on airplane mode and use the app “self control” on my computer to force myself to focus. Working in short chunks of time allows me to go uninterrupted and in turn causes me to be more productive.

Become a Morning Person

            If it weren’t for the time I allow myself in the morning to be productive I would have to eliminate one or two of my activities. I am so much more productive in the morning post one cup of coffee than I am in the afternoon or evening. With that knowledge, I have to make sure that each morning I allow myself some time to accomplish a few tasks. This motivates me for the rest of the day and since I can check things off I start to feel less overwhelmed. The transition into becoming a morning person can be challenging if that’s not your nature, but getting a lot done before lunch time and allowing yourself more early morning hours can definitely impact your productivity.

Say No

            I really shouldn’t be giving this advice since I struggle to say no most of the time. But, if you’re looking to better manage your time, don’t say yes to everything. Prioritize which things make you happy to do and just do those. If you don’t have the time saying yes is only going to stress you out. Avoid that reality by unapologetically saying no.

Prep the Night Before

            I understand, mornings can be hard. I genuinely don’t understand how teachers with kids do it. Getting myself dressed and out the door with a lunch packed and no coffee spills can be hard enough on occasion so I am very impressed by teachers or anyone for that matter who repeats that process with their kids each day. The best advice I have for making mornings go smoother and better managing the time you do have would be to get yourself organized the night before. Lay out your clothes, pack your bag, and have everything ready to go for your lunch and breakfast before even thinking about getting in bed. By doing this, you’ll hopefully have a less stressful morning and more time to tackle other tasks too.

I'd love to hear any tips you may have that have helped you to better manage your time! 

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