There are 24 hours in a day but most of us sit down at the end of the day and wonder where all of our time went. A lot of us start with a mental list of what we want to accomplish by the end of the day, but when night comes we just did not have enough time in the day. This is a false feeling. There is always enough time in the day, if you have good time management skills.
Time management is exactly what it looks like it is: How you are able to use, or manage, your time. If you find yourself lacking in this skill, here are some helpful hints to make you the master of your own time!
To start, try carrying a schedule and recording all of your thoughts activities and conversations for a week. You do not need to write down every word you say, but if you stop to talk to a friend for five minutes, write it down. The point of this exercise is to give you an idea of where and how you spend all your time. You will probably be very surprised at how much of your time each week is spent on unproductive thoughts and activities. Once this is done, you can start prioritizing. This mean you need to start making decisions about what activities are important for you and which ones are just wasting your time.
Now that we have decided which are the important things we do each week. Any activity, conversation, or other thing you do each week that you feel is important to you being productive and successful should have a time assigned to it. Let me say that a different way. If you believe that talking to your best friend for 15 minutes every day is important for the goals you want to achieve, then set up a time to talk to them every day. If something is important, it should not be something we are waiting to happen. A lot of time is wasting waiting for things to happen or to do things we know we are going to do or have to do that day. By giving it a set time, we can save a lot of our time.
Next, we are going to plan for the things that are not planned. Things happen throughout the day that we can’t plan for but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to! If you know that sitting on your computer doing work will probably lead to you playing on Facebook, then make that part of your schedule. Give yourself an hour to do “computer work”. While this is a general description you should try to get work done during that time. But if there is something you need to do distraction free, give it a specific time and title in your daily schedule. For example, “writing an essay”. If you know that this has to get down in a set amount of time you have, then put it in the schedule and call it exactly what you are doing. This way your mind can focus, knowing that you have time later for general work and distractions.
Take time at the beginning of each day to plan your day. Remember to schedule the important times at specific times. Make a short lists of goals you plan to accomplish each day. Ask yourself: What results do I want to see at the end of the day? You can repeat this exercise throughout the day, before each task or activity you have scheduled. Ask yourself, “What is the result I want from this activity?” Then, achieve that result! Activities like this will help you to cut down on time wasted during each activity by reminding yourself what is important before you even start.
Maybe the most difficult hint is this: don’t answer the phone. Don’t respond to that email. Don’t “like” your friend’s Facebook photo unless it is necessary in order to realize the result you are trying to achieve. This is harder and harder every day as our phones become a bigger part of our lives. But it is necessary to be a successful and productive manager of your time. If the phone call, Facebook activity or email is not important to your task at hand, then ignore it for now.
Finally, a very important hint: You will not get everything done every day. Some days you will get everything done and get every result you wanted. Other days you will get maybe one or no results. This is okay. Remind yourself that time management is a work in progress. That means that it is a challenge we have to face every day. Some days we will fail and that is okay. The best thing you can do whenever you fail at anything is to learn from your mistakes, and do better at it next time. This is true for time management or learning a skill. Think of how many times you had to practice until you knew all the past simple irregulars. I am sure you made a lot of mistakes along the way, we all did. The people who are successful at learning a language are the ones who know it is okay to try and fail, as long as you try again. The same is true for time management.