We only have 24 hours in a day to accomplish all those tedious tasks we have piling up on our to-do list.
Twenty-four hours that may seem like more than enough time to get things done, right?
Well, most people fall short of accomplishing all that they set out to do each day. The biggest culprit of this downfall is insufficient time management. You must strategically plan your day to reach maximum effectiveness and efficiency.
Let’s review some crucial time management hacks that can significantly improve your productivity each day.
Once you account for 7-8 hours of sleep, work, time spent in classes, studying, and time for meals, the allotted 24 hours in each day seems to disappear before your eyes. How do you add more time to your day? Simple. Wake up earlier. If you started with an extra 30 minutes each morning, you’ll give yourself more time than you’d typically have to now wake up naturally instead of running late and scrambling out the door.
You may have an impeccably organized daily schedule, but if you aren’t getting enough sleep each night, your body and brain will not function properly. Therefore, it’s not only essential to getting up early each day, but it’s equally important to get to sleep early the night before to ensure you get the recommended hours of sleep.
Setting An Intention
You’ve now restructured your morning routine. That extra hour allowed you time to pack your belongings for the day, make a balanced breakfast, and even answer some emails. Now what?
The next step is to set an intention for the day. Often we have so many things jammed into our schedule we default into a monotonous cycle. A cycle that may not be as efficient as you may believe. Sometimes less is more. Prioritizing essential tasks first and eliminating others that may not be as important. Setting an intention shifts your mindset into being present in the moment and focused on only the critical tasks at hand.
This practice is a form of self-discipline and restructures your attitude to confidently believe you can accomplish anything you set your mind on.
Organizing Your Calendar
You have a great morning routine down, now its time to revisit how you manage your daily task and track your day.
Being organized is vital for maximum efficiency.
I’m a big advocate of Google Calendar and Google Keep. Each platform crosses over all your devices making it easy to stay up to date and update your calendar from any place.
Google calendar also allows you to make several sub-calendars that are color-coded so you can separate tasks related to work and those related to school, for example. Google Keep is similar to Google calendar, which allows you to organize to-do items into color-coded lists. Once you finish a task, you can check the box and watch the thing move to your completed files — yes, this is very satisfying.
This concept can easily be replicated with a paper planner as well. Use colored pens and highlighters to organize tasks and assign importance.
Yes, we are all human, and all have our faults. Sometimes it’s oh so very tempting to watch that next episode on Netflix. Until you realize your intended 30-minute break turned into a 3 hour Netflix marathon.
It’s important to set limitations for yourself and stick to them. To do this you must first be honest with yourself and identify your weaknesses. For example, staying with the topic of Netflix. You realize you almost always watch more episodes than intended when you turn on the TV. To prevent this, maybe you designate a 45 minute block on your schedule for Netflix. You position this block at the end of your day, that way it’s not interfering with mid-day tasks.
Another option is limiting Netflix only to the weekends. I have utilized this tactic with social media on weeks when I know I have several tests coming up. Logging-out or event deleting the applications off your phone redirects your focus to the task at hand. This makes it that much more rewarding when the weekend comes knowing you had a productive week.
The Myth of Multitasking
The idea of multitasking is a result of over-eagerness and ambition to get ahead. The busiest people aren’t always the most successful people. Multitasking forces your brain to give little attention to multiple different things instead of giving undivided attention to one thing. If you only put half your effort into things, expect your output to be of only moderate quality.
This is where an organized calendar and or planner is incredibly resourceful. When you’re setting up your schedule, be realistic about how much time it will take you to finish a task. If you are unsure, allocate more time. It’s better to have more time than projected than not enough. When we are in a rush, that’s when we default to multitasking; so to avoid this plan ahead.
Most importantly, you need to be deliberate in the pursuit to be present at the moment.
Don’t default to autopilot. Life is short, and every second counts.