Time management seems to be the hottest topic in the adult world. Especially amongst our parents, teachers, coaches, mentors, and especially bosses. The question is, what is time management? What does it mean to have it? How do I get it? Why is it so important?
To answer the first question, time management by definition is, “the ability to use one’s time effectively or productively.” To have time management is to be able to have a set of tasks, and be able to produce. Meaning that you can focus, work diligently, and you can balance how you use your time. I say “balance” because time management isn’t just for work or school. It’s for your life. Being able to balance work time and downtime is extremely important for a busy person like a Future Boss Lady. As an FBL you’re most likely juggling work, education, future goals, and plans, as well as. relationships, friendships, family, and time for yourself. Managing your time effectively can help you accomplish tasks faster and ultimately reduce stress.
Tips for Success
●START. The biggest problem most people have with starting a task (especially one they don’t feel like doing) is to simply begin. When it comes to school or chores or mundane tasks, I often bribe myself with small things to help me get through it. For example, I will say, “OK, the sooner you get all of your homework done the sooner you can watch the next episode of Big Little Lies.” Then when I finally get to watch the episode, I feel so relaxed because my work is done, and it feels like a reward.
●Create an environment for success. You need to be free of distraction and create an environment where you can truly absorb yourself in the task at hand. For me, I can’t be at home when I’m doing homework or writing. When I’m at home all I can think about is cleaning the kitchen, making food, or reheating my coffee. There are simply too many distractions. So my happy place is a table in a coffee shop with my headphones in. Being in that environment allows me to disconnect and delve completely into my work. When it comes to this, you need to be realistic with yourself. Can you really focus 100% with the TV on? How much time are you spending scrolling through social media when you should be studying? Are you worrying more about lighting your candles and setting up the “perfect space” than actually accomplishing anything? Ask yourself, realistically, where and when are you the most productive?
●Disconnect. Close the Facebook tab on your browser and silence your phone. I know sometimes it’s not exactly realistic to completely put away your phone. In my case, I get into a time warp and end up going off the grid for four or five hours and then people are worried about where I am. So what I usually do is I silence my phone and turn it face down with an alarm set for every hour. Then when it goes off, I’ll give myself a “phone break” of five minutes and allow myself to answer messages and even scroll through social media for a moment. However, if you keep allowing yourself to be distracted by the notifications on your phone you’ll never get anything done.
●Know how much time you need. You know yourself, and you know how much time it takes for you to do things. Getting ready in the morning, doing homework, studying, your work commute, all of these things are most likely something that you do everyday, so you know how much time it takes to accomplish the task. If it’s going to take you 30 minutes to get to work, you HAVE to leave your house 35-40 minutes before you need to be there. If it takes you 45 minutes to do your hair and makeup in the morning, allow yourself those 45 minutes. Schedule-out your obligations and tasks to ensure time for each and every thing. This will help you keep track of your time.
●Make a plan. Before I sit down to work I always map out a plan for the session. First, a list of what needs to get done, then I order them from most important to least, and allow myself a tentatively set amount of time for each task. That way I can check myself if I’m spending too much time on one task, or get distracted.
●Start and FINISH. Do not leave a task half-finished unless it is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, you need to make sure that every single task that you start gets completed quickly and efficiently. Stick to the one job, focus, and do every step. Whether it be for work, school, or even cleaning your home. Get into the habit of being a “finisher”, you will be so much better for it.
●Stop multitasking. Trying to do two things at once is going to take you twice to three times as long to complete them, and they both will be less than your best. You also run the risk of skipping steps, forgetting things, and working with a rushed and scrambled mindset. Give everything you do your undivided attention, whether it be an assignment, side hustle, talking to your mom on the phone, or even cleaning. It will not only make you faster at accomplishing tasks, but will bring your work and your personal connections to a higher level.
●Schedule in downtime. Make yourself a priority as well. Managing your time means to also balance work and life. Set out time in your day to do things like call your mom, workout, and catch up on your favorite shows. A lot of people suffer from guilt when it comes to relaxing, so what I do, is I set out a specific amount of time and I declare it “relax time”. Where I rest or do something that makes me happy. I find that when I do this, I feel less guilt because I don’t feel like I’m wasting time, I'm using it to focus on myself.
So much of what it means to be successful with time management lies in being purposeful with your time and how you spend it. Simply being conscious and aware of how you’re utilizing your time and acknowledging whether or not you’re happy with how it’s being spent, is a huge part of that success. When you live your life with purpose and intention, you take control. You’re not going through your days letting life happen to you, you’re deciding how you want your life to be. Even in times where unexpected things happen, you can still choose how and where the time is used.
Say you get into a fender bender. You can choose to spend your time being angry and exasperated and feel as though your entire day is now wasted. Or, you can choose to spend the time feeling grateful that no one was hurt and take a moment or reflect on the situation to see what you could learn from it, how to handle the obstacle in the most effective manner, how you can treat someone with kindness without cowering under the situation. In circumstances where you feel like your time is being spent without your control, choose to manage your feelings and actions.
Then there are the situations when we have to spend time doing a task we don’t want to, therefore, feeling as though time is wasted. When this arises, think about how you can make the time more valuable. For example, when you’re in a lecture for a class, take notes. That way you’re forced to pay attention, making the time go by faster, and you’re actually learning something, making the time more valuable.
However, there are those scenarios where the task is truly mundane and frustratingly time-wasting, like going to the DMV. In a situation where you know you’ll be waiting in line, bring an activity to do. Bring your planner and spend the time mapping out your week, listen to a Podcast, or bring along homework that you need to get done. This way you can feel like you’re killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.
In addition to this, my second bit of advice is to find gratitude in mundane tasks. When having to attend dentist appointments or grocery shop, try to be proud of yourself for being organized and responsible. Finding the slimmest shred of fortune in a situation will ultimately increase the value of your time.
The point of time management is to be intentional and to have a positive mindset. Every single thing that you do is a choice, and it’s a task, and you just have to treat it as such. Once you do that, you’ll realize that every minute counts and every experience truly matters. You’ll be so much more productive, you’ll never be bored, and you’ll be more grateful for the time that you have.