Learning better time management is one of those skills that goes a long way. With better time management comes better productivity and a better work life balance. When you manage your time better you also learn the key to balancing everything together.
We all have 24 hours in a day and some people seem to have all aspects of their life well balanced. While others struggle to make time for things. And the difference is how you manage your time.
There are so many tools and habits that can help you with time management. But in this post, I am sharing time management tips and tools that have helped me over the years and that can help you too.
I am sharing these as a 2 weeks challenge. It will give you an opportunity to try them out and you can add the ones you think are the most effective to your daily routine. You don’t have to try them all out in 2 weeks time, but you definitely could give it a shot!
So let’s get started:
- DAY 1: Track where you spend your time:
- Day 2: Note down distractions:
- DAY 3: Figure out a way to remove distractions:
- DAY 4: Learn to prioritise:
- DAY 5: Wake up earlier & Create a Morning routine:
- Day 6: Start writing better to-do lists:
- Day 7: Start a planner:
- Day 8: Make a monthly plan:
- Day 9: Stop procrastinating:
- Day 10: Stop multi-tasking:
- Day 11: Try Pomodoro & some other productivity techniques:
- Day 12: Form a Sunday reset routine:
- Day 13: Write lists to be organised:
- Day 14: Automate what you can:
DAY 1: Track where you spend your time:
The problem with trying to learn time management is that we do not have a clear idea of how we manage our time right now. We “think” we were working for 2 hours but in reality we spent 30 minutes scrolling through social media.
Getting a clear picture of how you spend your time is important. It will help you understand how you can manage your time better. There are a couple of apps that that can help you track where you spend your time.
Or you could simply note down in a notebook what you did in the last 1 hour, every hour through the day. Repeat this activity for about week to get a clear picture. You’d be surprised to find out how much time you spend on your phone, let’s say. If you don’t already have the notification ON, start it right now so that you can check your screen time.
But be true to yourself because wanting to make is change is the first step and it’s a long process.
Day 2: Note down distractions:
We all have distractions in our day that distract us from getting work done and from being productive. It can be your habit of constantly reaching for your phone.
Or it could be a habit of researching for hours before doing a project and then not getting any work done when it’s time to take action.
It is termed as productive procrastination. It means that it essentially isn’t a bad thing and you were doing research which is not a complete waste of time. But when it distracts you from actually doing the work then it is procrastination.
Or it could be something that’s super obvious like your kids, especially toddlers and babies who require your constant attention.
Do you spend hours scrolling social media? Or do you spend a lot of your time in the office engaging in un-necessary gossip sessions? Or do you have responsibilities of your babies? Note down whatever it is that stops you from being productive and managing your time better.
DAY 3: Figure out a way to remove distractions:
Now that you know what are the distractions in your work day, you need to think about how you can minimise the distractions.
One of the most common distraction is our phones and there are so many simple, easy ways to remove the distraction. You can try keeping your phone on silent and turning off push notifications.
However, if you still find that you’re reaching for your phone after small intervals, then it’s best to keep it physically away from you. If possible, keep it in a different room while working. And if that’s not possible(given you’re in an office) then keep is in your desk drawer or your handbag and not at your work desk.
If you’re a mom and are working from home, your biggest distraction is probably your kids. So, see if you can get any extra help to take care of your kids. Divide hours with your partner, ask your friends/parents to help out or you could hire a nanny. And when they’re old enough, they can also start going to a day care so that you can get a few hours to focus on your work without any distractions.
So, whatever it is, find a way to remove those distractions so that you can do focussed work for a couple of hours.
DAY 4: Learn to prioritise:
Everyone has 24 hours in the day and time management is all about prioritising where you spend you time. There are sometimes days where you have a lot going on and you find it impossible to get through your to do list for the day, unless you work till 8-9PM.
That’s when you need to prioritise. In my opinion, no work is as important that you should let it cut into your family time on the daily. Because if you’re not spending time with your loved ones, then what’s the point of all the hustle?
Also, goes without saying, when we talk about prioritising, we’re not just talking about work-family life balance. But also about prioritising tasks on your to-do list. Whenever writing your to-do list, it is a good practice to set priorities for the day. I always set 3 priorities everyday.
It’s important because It will help you schedule your day better. I always get my most important task of the day done first thing in the morning because that’s when I have the most energy, both mental and physical.
And setting priorities is important because if something comes up and your day doesn’t go according to plan, you are left with limited time and energy. And you should know where you need to put that time and energy.
DAY 5: Wake up earlier & Create a Morning routine:
Taking control over your mornings and what you do in the mornings is so important because it sets the tone for the rest of the day. When you get productive in the mornings, you carry on that energy through the rest of the day.
Being productive and organised in the morning will help you have a more productive day. You will be better equipped to focus on your goals and tasks through the day. If you’re not in a habit of waling up early in the morning but want to become a morning person. Then read this post on how to start waking up earlier and how to become a morning person and start loving your mornings.
Here is my 5 AM productive morning routine that I absolutely swear by. I love being in control of my mornings and being intentional about how I spend my time in the mornings.
Day 6: Start writing better to-do lists:
For being able to manage your time better, you’ll need tools. And writing a to-do list is one of them. But you must do so effectively for it to work.
If you keep putting every other thing on your to-do list, then it will cause more stress and chaos, rather than helping you. The idea is to write structured lists that divide the tasks into categories. You also need to keep your time and mental capacity into consideration.
Don’t fill up your day with 20 to-do items because you probably won’t get around to it. And it will only make you feel worse. Think about how much time it will take to do a particular task and then see whether you can schedule it in your day or not.
Same goes for things that don’t require your immediate attention. Leave them for the weekend or later, instead of leaving work mid way.
Day 7: Start a planner:
Starting a planner will save you so much time, no joke. I know setting up a planner seems like a lot of work, but you can do very simple set ups that take about 10 minutes to do.
I usually do mine at the beginning of the month. Starting a planner will help you manage your time better. Planner are a great tool to keep everything organised in one place. So you will never be looking through journals for hours if you just know where it is.
Planners are also great tools to write goals, make a vision board because you will see them everyday. It can also be a place to write down all your appointments and meetings, so you never forget about them. So, starting a planner will not only give you more clarity, but will also save you more time.
Day 8: Make a monthly plan:
For day 8. I’d like you to make a monthly plan. A monthly plan is where you plan out your entire month. think about what your goals for the month are, so that you’re not wasting time working on things that are not important.
It is also the place where you can set your priorities for the month. Setting monthly goals and priorities at the beginning of the month will help you save so much time. You will know exactly where you need to put your time and focus.
And when we do things with a clear vision, that definitely helps with productivity and time management too. And also, because you know how much work you need to get done in a month, you can plan our your month better and manage your time accordingly.
For example, if I have a monthly goal of writing 8 blog posts, I will not procrastinate till the very last week. I know that I’d need to write 2 every week to meet my goal. And because I will also take into consideration the time it takes me to write a post, I can schedule it in my weekly plan in a better way.
Day 9: Stop procrastinating:
So you’re really good at making plans, that’s good. But do you follow through? Or are you spend the major chunk of your time in planning and not leaving enough time for the actual work? So, let’s say I want to write a blogpost and I spent 3 hours researching and that left me with just 1 hour to write it. Will the final blogpost be any good? Most probably no.
I wasn’t necessarily wasting my time while doing the research. But I was procrastinating on the actual action. And that’s one habit you need to quit.
Productive procrastination and procrastination in general, both. You can’t complain about not having enough time to do the things you want to, if you keep binge watching Netflix everyday.
Sorry(not really) for the tough love, but it’s a sad reality a lot of us live in.
And if you want to get better at managing your time, getting work done, you need to stop procrastinating, right now. Get your work done and then you can do whatever you wish to do, with the time that’s left.
And believe me, when you are organised and stop wasting your time, you will have spare time left after finishing your work to enjoy your Netflix shows as well.
Day 10: Stop multi-tasking:
If you think you’re being efficient with multi-tasking, think again. Multi-tasking has been romanticised for no reason at all. And I find that whenever you multi-task you’re not as focussed and the work just takes longer. And even the quality of the work suffers because you’re not doing it that dedicatedly.
Of course multi tasking works for things like driving and listening to a podcast. That’s actually really helpful and allows you to make good use of your commute time. But for the important tasks that require your focus, I’d suggest you stick to one task at a time. Give it all your attention, get it done and then move onto next.
Day 11: Try Pomodoro & some other productivity techniques:
For Day 11, let’s try some productivity techniques. Productive techniques like the Pomodoro method are great tools. I sue Pomodoro for tasks that require all my focus and dedicated attention like writing blogposts.
Sometimes it’s so difficult to focus on the task because there are just too many distractions around us. And I find that instead of trying to focus for long periods of time, working for short time spans is great. Pomodoro technique says that you need to work for 25 minutes, without any distractions.
And after 25 minutes, you take a 5 minute break. And then repeat. Do this for 4 cycles and then take a bigger break. It means that you will be working for about 2 hours before a big break. And you’d be surprised by how much you can get done in these 25 minute chunks.
Day 12: Form a Sunday reset routine:
To be productive throughout the day and manage your time better, you need to be at the top of your game. And resetting on Sunday is definitely a way to relax before the work week.
Reset routines allow you to get your affairs in order before the work week begins and to catch on some self care and rest as well. Which are both so essential.
So make a Sunday or weekend Reset routine if you don’t have one right now. I also plan the upcoming week while doing the Reset and it tells me what is happening in the coming week and how I need to prioritise my tasks to achieve my goals. Here’s everything I do for my SUNDAY RESET ROUTINE.
Day 13: Write lists to be organised:
Writing lists and being organised is essential for better time management. I absolutely swear by lists. Lists make it easier to remember things, so you’re not forgetting something or the other.
Writing lists like grocery shopping list makes grocery shopping go by so much quicker. You spend less time going up and down the aisles and end up saving money too.
Writing lists like emails and passwords list will make it easier to remember all your login credentials. So no more wasting time in trying to remember the passwords and resetting them.
So for day 13 of the time management challenge, I urge you to start making lists to save your time. You can start with the basic grocery shopping list, passwords list and a daily to-do list. And once you get hooked, you can check out this post. These are the 15 lists I make to be more organised.
Day 14: Automate what you can:
For day 14, the last day of the challenge, automate whatever you can so that you can save your time. There are so many things that you can automate. I automate things like payments and savings. So each month, a dedicated amount goes into my savings. It saves me time because I don’t have to do it manually.
Automating things like phone payments, subscriptions, savings, rent payments etc makes it easier for you as you don’t need to remember the dates as well and you will never miss any date ever again.
You can also make a staples grocery list that you order each month and it automatically gets ordered each month. We did this for diapers (through amazon) as well, when the baby was little.
So automate whatever you can and make plan for the rest of the things. For payments that you can’t automate, note down their dates in your monthly planner. You can set a reminder in your phone as well, so that you don’t forget.
That’s it for this post guys. In the end time management and getting better at it comes down to being organised and making systems that work for you. Having routines in place helps a lot and is definitely worth giving a try. Hope this challenge gave you some ideas to manage your time better and to strike that work life balance! 🙂