While it seems that everyone could benefit from some extra time, making the most of your time can give the illusion that you have more of it. With fixed daily tasks and spontaneous assignments, late nights can become the norm. But with knowledge about time management, you can maximize the little time you have and get more done. Here are some tips to get you there.
1. Always ask for a deadline.
The word "deadline" sends a lot of us into panic mode, making us recall sleepless nights in the library at college trying to get a paper in on time. But fear not. Much like the words "diet" or "budget," these negatively stigmatized words are actually designed to give you more freedom. A deadline will give you the opportunity to plan how long an assignment will take. If you are not given a deadline, give yourself one so that you will hold yourself accountable. But according to Ty Kiisel at Forbes, "don't make promises you can't keep." Be realistic, and get your work done on time.
2. Overestimate how long a task will take.
Playing it safe is always better than rushing to complete an assignment. Just giving yourself a buffer of five or ten minutes can help you feel more relaxed and ahead of schedule. Working with a clear head will allow you to focus more on the task at hand and less on the ticking clock.
3. Prioritize realistically.
You know this one. Not every task will be of equal importance, so be smart about prioritizing. If you can, plan for more difficult assignments in the beginning of the day when you are fresh and alert, and more rote tasks later on in the day when you'll likely need a break. Kevin Purdy of Fast Company warns against checking your email during the first hour of your day. Instead, do some heavy lifting.
4. Do less tasks per day.
When you have 100 items on your to do list, the chances will be low that you'll get anything done. Give yourself only the tasks that you know you will get done today. Keep it to 5 to 7 items, only. That's about all we can handle. Plus, a to do list that's all checked off is so much nicer than one that still has outstanding items. Here's a great resource to make your to do list!
5. Make an hour-by-hour schedule.
Think back to high school. Every hour of your day was scheduled out by classes, and it worked. Do the same in your work life, but understand that things will be variable. If you have a potential schedule to work from, though, it will be a lot easier to know what you're going to do every day. We like to write it down in a planner, old school, but feel free to use calendar apps if that floats your boat better.
6. Revel in your contingency time.
Remember all that extra time you have because you overestimated the time it takes to do your tasks? Now, use that time as contingency to take care of anything that was unexpected, or just relax!
7. Take frequent breaks to separate activities.
Your breaks are your rewards between completing tasks. Don't think that taking a break will waste time. It will actually help boost your endurance by giving you the chance to recharge and get that circulation going.