Manage Your Time, Get More Done

Do you work at home?  I do.  Do you find that your time at work tends to be unproductive, so that you spend too much evening and weekend time doing “work” rather than “life”?

Does your life feel out of balance?

A few principles will get us started:

1.  Get to know yourself.

2.  Get to accept yourself.

3.  Decide that you are in charge of your time as much as possible.

Lets take these one at a time.

Know Yourself

We have work lives that are structured around an 8 to 5 or 7 to 4, or even a 6 to 3:30 job. Often the hours are a lot worse.  I recognize that for some even many of us very early or very long hours feel compatible.  That is fine.  The important thing is to recognize what is comfortable for you, and whenever possible organize your time around that comfort level.

Tired frustrated, out of time.

Tired frustrated, out of time.

If you know that you are incoherent at 5 AM do your best to avoid heavy responsibility at that time.  If you make your best decisions at 10 AM then arrange your time around that as your best work and organization time.

Accept Yourself

We are all different, and that is good.  When I was working before I retired I believed that I was a “morning person.”  I ignored the fact that I hated getting up super early to get fed, dressed, and ready for a job that began at 8:00 AM.  Why did I have to get up so early for an 8 o’clock job?  Because I love two things:  food and reading.  That meant a good large breakfast and time to read the paper, and if possible a book before I headed out the door.  I was at my best in the middle of the morning, and I was able to stay late at work to finish it rather than leave any to be finished at home.

Once I retired I was surprised that I enjoyed staying in bed till a comfortable 7:30, having some time for eating and reading, and starting my writing and study later in the morning.

I had to overcome my guilt over such laziness!  (Well. really not too much guilt, it felt too good).

What is the lesson?  It is okay to be yourself.  Start your work when it feels right to you.  Incorporate your pleasures into your day, they don’t have to wait until your work is done, you can move back and forth.  Work will be more of a pleasure, if you are not fighting yourself.  (There are a lot of writers and self employed people who describe getting up before 6 to have plenty of time to work:  that is them.  If you like that, do it.  If it sounds terrible, do what is good for you.)

You Are In Charge Of Your Time!

Your control over your time may be limited by your job, family needs and other factors.  So it is important that you get some control over what time you can.

First you decide what is the most important thing to do.  Start with that task.

Some tasks are time eaters/wasters.  Email anyone?  Facebook?  Schedule time to go through email, and other social applications.  You may need to set a timer to limit yourself to some of the time.  You will find concentration easier if you don’t respond to every notification that you have a new email.  Even work emails may be handled more efficiently if you schedule certain email times, perhaps one in the morning, one at night.

Woman confidant and happy.

Woman confidant and happy.

Do you ever feel stuck?  Too much to do, too little that is a pleasure, energy getting lower?  I have found this is the best time to make a “to do” list.  Grab a notebook, write down the things that need to be done, in any order.  After writing down several items, look at them and organize them in most important to least important or rewarding.  Then plan to get one or two (or more if they do not take much time) of these tasks completed.  Reward yourself once each one has been completed.

Be in charge of your time also when you have free time.  For some specific tips on how to preserve your own time see the page Communication Skills: Positive Ways to Set Limits.

I Don’t Have Time!

This is the cry of someone who feels overwhelmed by the demands.  Too many things to do, too many demands, too little sense of control.

It is important to remember that we all have the same amount of time:  We all have 24 hours in the day.  Nobody has more.  If we agree to do more, we will not get a 25th hour to do it!  Time is precious.  Take responsibility and you decide how you will spend it.  Spend it carefully.  Spend it with care and love.