How to Manage Time Wisely and Be More Productive
I’m an all-or-nothing kind of girl. As in, I’m either doing all the things, or I’m doing nothing.
When I am feeling motivated, I get a ton done around the house and for my blog. But at other times, the motivation isn’t there and I am good at doing nothing for hours (or days!) at a time.
I’ve had to learn how to manage time wisely so I can be more productive even when the motivation just isn’t there.
For me, productivity is about finding balance. It’s about being productive when I need to be so that I have time to invest in my priorities. Being productive doesn’t necessarily mean you are generally busy, but it should mean that you are busy with the best of things.
I know that I have used my time wisely when I make the most of every moment. When I’ve been actively engaged in the moment, investing in whatever is before me, I can be confident that I was productive in the best way possible.
Remember, making the most of every moment doesn’t mean filling every moment with tackling to-do’s or running from one activity to the next. We can make the most of every moment by being mindful of it, by slowing down enough to see what God has for you, and acting on what God has called you to do.
How to Manage Time Wisely
Effective time management is most tricky when we have a lot on our plate. There are seasons where this is normal, of course, but this shouldn’t be our normal long term!
Any time I talk about productivity on Practigal Blog, I come from the perspective of simplifying your life.Simplifying your life and schedule is about living out your purpose, not anyone else’s.
You will never feel productive enough if the things that are important to you are constantly being thrown to the wayside.
If you want to begin to be more productive in the ways that are most important to you, you first have to learn how to manage time wisely. Because how this looks differs from person to person, we have to begin by getting clear on our own priorities in life.
1. Prioritize Your Time
The first steps to learning how to manage time wisely is to figure out your true priorities.
Prioritizing what is important to you? What isn’t important to you? Will you regret not devoting more time to something or someone on a regular basis?
It’s not about a to-do list. It’s about asking yourself questions like these should help you determine what your top priorities are in life, and from there likely a few secondary priorities. It’s about removing wasted time from your life–prioritization.
When you know your top priorities in life, it’s easier to see ways to spend more time on these and less time on your non-priorities.
For me, my top priorities are God and the people in my life. These are the things that I want to receive the best of me, if not the majority of my time.
But I also have some secondary priorities like taking good care of my mind and body, spending time outside and listening to music, creating and learning.
Your top priorities and secondary priorities don’t need to be completely separate. In fact, finding ways to incorporate your top priorities into your lesser priorities can be a fun way to prioritize both.
For example, I can include God or other people when I am enjoying the outdoors or going to a concert.
2. Declutter Your Schedule
Once you know your priorities, you are now able to see anything on your schedule that doesn’t fit within those. So, the second step to learning how to manage time wisely is to declutter your schedule.
You can choose to either eliminate or minimize your non-priorities.
You want to eliminate non-priorities from your schedule if they are also unnecessary or actually harming your productivity or wellbeing.
Maybe you volunteer at church, at your kids’ school, and at the local food shelf. If volunteering at the food shelf is the only thing you feel called to do right now, eliminate your other obligations.
On the other hand, you should minimize non-priorities that are actually necessary but just not your favorite.
Household chores are one example of tasks you might minimize and simplify so that you spend less time doing them.
3. Create a Daily Routine
Finally, the third step to learning how to manage time wisely is to create a daily routine or schedule. Your schedule should always include your priorities to some degree, and will usually include things that simply need to get done.
How to Make a Daily Schedule for Yourself
In order to make a daily schedule for yourself, there are some key time management tips to keep in mind.
First, include buffer time. Leave buffer time in between activities so that you are able to be flexible and so that you don’t underestimate how long something will take.
We’ve all derailed our entire day by underestimating how long a task would take or by getting stuck in traffic we weren’t expecting. Adding buffer time into our schedule helps alleviate some of this added stress.
Second, utilize time blocking. Time blocking is great for your priorities and even non-priorities.
Blocking off a chunk of time on your schedule for a priority better allows you to make sure it happens, and it helps you focus on this one thing and one thing only.
For non-priorities, time blocking helps give a limit to how much time you will allow them to have in your day. We’ve all gotten carried away with a task at hand only to realize that more time has gone by than we realized.
Set a timer for your non-priorities. You could set a timer for cleaning or checking in on social media…anything that you don’t want taking over your day.
Remember that your routine will be specific to your priorities and your roles. A stay at home mom daily schedule will look a lot different from one for a full-time working mom.
How to Be More Productive at Home
It can be easier for many of us to be productive at work or at a place we volunteer, but much more difficult in the comfort of our own home.
At home, it can be harder to self-motivate, and easier to relax when we most need to accomplish some important tasks.
Time management at home involves balancing our priorities and obligations well. We have to get things done, but we also need to use this time to spend quality time with our family and take good care of ourselves.
Below are some key time management tips for moms, important components of learning how to get things done at home while leaving ample time for the most important things in your life.
Sometimes the hardest part about being productive at home is motivating yourself to get anything done. Think about what motivates you in general or in other settings.
Use this knowledge to motivate yourself when you are home as well!
Reminding yourself of your priorities can be an awesome way to motivate yourself.
Even if you are needing to do mundane tasks, reminding yourself of your priorities can help you get going on these tasks so that you can get to what you love.
Use Your Best Hours
I like to call the time of day when you are at your prime your prime-time hours. Figure out when you function the best.
When is your head most clear? When are you able to focus? What time of day do you have more energy?
Use your prime-time hours to do the hardest tasks or the most important tasks. How you decide to utilize your prime-time hours is up to you, but it’s crucial that you use these hours well.
We all have limited resources, including both time and energy.
By taking advantage of the time of day that you are at your best, you are able to get more done in less time.
Even more, anytime you use your best hours to invest in your priorities, your priorities are getting your best.
When you stay focused on the task at hand, you are able to give it your all. I know that multi-tasking seems like a good idea for getting more done, but really it either makes you take longer or keeps you from doing a good job. Either way, multi-tasking actually makes you less productive in the ways that matter.
Even more, it’s important to stay present. Minimize distractions, and try to keep your mind from wandering to other things.
Practicing mindfulness can help you focus better, as well as make a task more enjoyable. Remember, simplifying your life will give you more flexibility and control over your time. Begin to declutter your life and see for yourself!
Once you’ve removed the excess, learn how to manage time wisely, how to be more productive at home or anywhere else, and how to make a daily schedule for yourself.
Set A Timer
When you need to manage your time set timers. The Pomodoro tehcnique is a time management strategy to work in minutes rather than hours. Set a timer to focus work sessions and then take a short break. It promotes sustained concentration and less mental fatigue.
Try setting a 25 minute focus period followed by a five minute break to accomplish your next task. It works well for anything: cleaning, reading, studying, projects, organizing, and more.
There’s nothing like wasted time because you’re disorganized. Work to organize everything around you-your home, car, office, cabinets. You’ll save time when you’re not having to look for everything and you’ll feel better.
You only have 24 hours in a day. However, you can do much more than you think when you learn to work smarter and adjust your time management skills.
I know that you can manage time effectively. However, there’s no better poor time management productivity killer than a lack of focus. So, when you find yourself without focus, stop procrastinating. Now is the time to strengthen your ability to prioritize, set deadlines, limit interruptions, block-out disruptions, and practice goal-setting. Then make a list-what do you want and need to do.
Learning these time management tips will have you well on your way to putting your priorities first consistently so that you live with no anxiety and regrets. It won’t be stressful. It will be freeing. You’ll increase your productivity and find extra time to do the things you want to do.
Theresa Bedford is a syndicated freelance home and travel writer with regular contributions to the Associated Press wire and MSN. She helps everyday people love the life they have through simplicity, organization, and prioritization.
Schedule the clothing laundry that must be done for the coming week and your computer maintenance for the same time. These are the only two tasks that I do together. Basically set both machines and let them run; check periodically.
Great tip, Karen! That’s a great example of when “multi-tasking” is actually effective. 😉
Prioritizing and staying focused is key. Great tips, great post.
Thank you…so true!
Thank you, needed this right now!
Absolutely! You are so welcome. 😊