Managing my time is one of the most difficult things I have to do. Over the years, I've discovered what works and what doesn't.
While there are many techniques to managing one's time, I find that the simple approach works best — at least for me. I also believe that what works for one person may not work for another. Also, things change. Being able to adapt to any situation is important. So with that in mind, let's take a look at some ways to help you better manage your time.
01. Use a calendar
Remember, though, it takes time to keep it up-to-date, and you need to be diligent in checking it daily. Up until recently, I used a wall calendar. However, I discovered that a digital calendar offered me a lot more options – like daily reminders and the ability to always have it with me.
02. Make a to-do list
Okay, I won't lie... I'm not a list maker. To be honest, to-do lists intimidate me; but for many people, they absolutely swear by them.
On a recent episode of Invisible Red, my co-host, Angela Scott, explains how she uses to-do lists to help keep track of what she must do each day. She talks about how she writes down the estimated time for each task, and then how she uses that information to help prioritize things.
Speaking of which...
03. Prioritize your tasks
Being able to prioritize your tasks is another fantastic time management technique. While it may not be possible to do everything on your list in one day, you need to find a way to decide what's required now, and what can be put off until later. Pro-tip: deadlines help.
The bottom line... master the skill of prioritization, and you're well on your way to becoming a Time Lord.
Asking others for assistance is okay. Repeat: it's okay! It doesn't mean you're weak. When you delegate, you're actually managing your time in one of the most efficient ways possible.
Granted, you can't delegate everything, but take a look at your task list; is there anything listed that someone else can do for you? More importantly, is there anyone who can do it more efficiently? If so, consider delegating that task so you're free to work on other things.
05. Understand the power of yes and no
'Yes' and 'No' are a powerful words. In fact, did you know that you can't use one without using the other? That's right! Every time you say 'yes' to one thing, you're saying 'no' to another.
Time is not infinite. We only have so much of it before the sun sets at the end of the day. Be selective in what you agree to do. Understand that saying 'no' is perfectly acceptable.
06. Take breaks, often
At some point, you need to recharge yourself. If you're like me, you'll forget that even the most productive person needs a break.
In February, I had the privilege of hearing James Dempsey speak at RWDevCon 2016 about going AFK (away from keyboard). James talked about taking time for yourself and for your family. His touching story about the relationship between him and his dad was something I needed to hear. Now, because of his talk, I take more time for myself and my family.
Thank you, James!
Note: The picture above was taken during one of my breaks. Follow me on Instagram and come walk with me.
07. Use software to help
I mentioned calendars and to-do lists, but this article would be remiss if I didn't provide a few options for how to manage them. While this list is certainly not all inclusive, it will give you a jumping off point.
- FantasticalThis is an excellent way to manage your calendar. I use it to keep my personal appointments in order. I also have it tied into my shared Google calendar which Charlie Fulton and I use on Roundabout: Creative Chaos for scheduling our guests.
- TrelloTrello is how I keep my tasks in order. I use it daily and everything I'm working on gets a Trello Board. What's nice about Trello is that I can share my boards with other team members so we can all participate in getting the job done.
- Google KeepGoogle Keep is a fantastic way to share lists (or keep them to yourself). You can access Google Keep through their website or using the iOS or Android App. If you're looking for an easy-to-use list app, check this one out.
Managing your time isn't easy, especially when you have a lot to do, or a lot of people counting on you. It can run even the strongest person into the dirt. But with a little structure and maybe some digital help, even the busiest person can be happy and productive.