(Dr. Clayton Lawrence, founder and CEO, shares his thoughts in a weekly column focused on community wellness and inspiring others.)
When life gets stressful and the to-do list seems endless, there is one thing that is far better than a pot of coffee – time management. Important at any age, whether a student preparing for finals or an adult trying to find the right balance between work and home, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.
The process of managing time in an efficient manner is actually very personal. While some work best when a week’s worth of tasks is prioritized in one visible agenda, others become incredibly overwhelmed at the thought of more than one job in one place. And the truth is, that’s OK. In order to be productive in our daily lives, it’s important to find a process that doesn’t cause more stress and a rhythm that feels both natural and rewarding.
Here are a few ways we suggest developing your unique time management plan. Options may seem to contradict each other, but keep in mind that what may not work for you is the perfect fit for someone else.
Prioritize by level of importance.
Tackle the difficult tasks first.
Check the deadlines and complete a little at a time.
Give yourself plenty of time for big projects.
Focus on one task at a time.
Be realistic about your completion time.
Make use of technology and set notifications with deadlines.
Keep a paper calendar so that the entire month is visible.
Take some time each night to prepare a to-do list for the following day.
Students: take advantage of free evenings to brush up on classes, rather than cramming for tests.
Identify time zappers like social media and refrain from surfing until you feel comfortable that your tasks are completed.
Turn off unnecessary distracts, like the radio or television.
Take care of yourself by making sleep a priority and burning off stress chemicals with an exercise plan.
Understand your reasons for procrastination and deal with them head-on.
Learn to say no to activities until you are comfortable with your work load.
If music is your motivator, tune in to your favorite station.
Take some time to audit where your time is being used – you may be surprised!
Set time limits for each task and shut down when that allotment is up.
Tackle the undesirable tasks first thing in the morning, when motivation and energy levels are high.
Get organized – a chaotic working environment can affect your productivity.
Utilize time management/task software like Trello or Redbooth, to prioritize and label tasks and deadlines.
Get an early start – early morning hours are a nice quiet time to start tasks when the energy is high.
On the other hand, some folks find productivity is highest when burning the midnight oil. Just be sure to adjust sleeping patterns to ensure the proper amount of shut eye each night.
Consider the benefits of delegating daily tasks – can a spouse or child handle a few of the regular items that take place in the home? Can a co-worker or employee take on a project that could not only provide opportunity for growth for them but room to breathe for you?
Take advantage of the “space between.” In other words, use the moments between the completion of one task and the start of the next to respond to emails, take a walk, take down a few notes or grab a bit to eat. Use this time to recharge.