Focusing on what is important helps you make the most of your time. Use these strategies to take control of your time at home, at school, and at work:
- Use your time effectively. Track your activities and the amount of time you spend on them for a week. Watch out for common traps such as phone use, Internet surfing, shopping, game playing, staying up late, or procrastinating. Identify your time-wasters and set goals to cut them.
- Set clear priorities. Make sure that you complete tasks that represent your top priorities before you do tasks which are low priority but more fun.
- Set goals. Identify goals for a day, a week, a month, or a year. List the tasks necessary to reach each goal. Estimate the time needed for each task and goal. Allow extra time to allow for tasks that take more time than expected and for interruptions.
- Use a monthly calendar. Record important events, meetings, and deadlines on a calendar located where you will see it often. This helps you avoid scheduling conflicts. Block off time to work on a project or study for a test. Refer to your calendar when you prepare weekly and daily “To Do” lists.
- Make weekly and daily “To Do” lists. Write down every task you plan to carry out. Make your list realistic. Rank the items on your list 1, 2, or 3 according to their importance. Give the most important items a ranking of 1. If you run short of time, save the less important items for later. Use your weekly list to prepare your daily “To Do” list. Cross off items as you complete them.
- Avoid procrastination. The habit of postponing what you need to do, or procrastination, adds unnecessary stress and pressure when you finally start a task. If something unforeseen happens, you have no extra time to make adjustments. Perhaps you rationalize that you work better under pressure, but do you really do your best work? Perhaps the tasks you tend to put off are ones that you really don’t want to do. If so, ask yourself if the task is really necessary, if you can make it more enjoyable, or if someone else could do it. Schedule the tasks you need to do then do them. You will feel good about what you have accomplished when the task is complete.
- Avoid interruptions. Interruptions can cost valuable time. Avoid working in places where you can easily be interrupted. Ask others not to interrupt you for a specified time period.
- Use small amounts of time productively. Identify tasks you can carry out in little time like straightening your desk, putting a room in order, writing a note, making a list, checking your e-mail, or returning a call.
- Do complementary tasks at the same time. Multitasking, or doing several tasks at the same time, often means that nothing you tried to do is well-done. In reality, the problem combining tasks that don’t work well together. Studying while watching TV won’t work out well, but you can easily wash a load of clothes while studying because laundry requires little attention.
- Reward your accomplishments. After you complete an important task or list of tasks, treat yourself. For example, watch TV after cleaning your apartment or take a walk after completing your homework.
Which tips can you use to get the most of your time?