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What can you own, but not use? What is free, but priceless? What can you spend, but not keep? What is gone forever once you’ve lost it?
I’m speaking, of course, about time.
Time is one of those things which seem to make no sense, no matter how you look at it.
We never seem to have enough time to do anything – sometimes, there aren’t just enough hours in the day, or days in the weekend.
On the one hand, time seems to speed up, and we wonder where it’s gone. At other times, it seems to be so painfully slow that it seems almost unreal.
While it’s perfectly normal to feel this way, with a few time management activities and hacks, you’ll be making far better use of your time and feel more organized as a result.
The Definition of Time Management
‘Time management’ is the art of managing your time. Have you ever felt, like in the example I gave above, that your time runs away with you, or that you’re not using it as well as you could be?
If so, then time management is for you, my friend.
Trust me, once you start your effective time management plan, your life – your time – will never be the same again.
Take it from me – there is nothing better than feeling like you’ve accomplished as much as you could have done, and using your time effectively.
Let me show you a few easy ways of doing so.
Easy Time Management Activities
Back in the day before I discovered the Sweet Clean Living lifestyle, I was something of a procrastinator. Well – not just any old procrastinator. As I was a high school teacher, I would have everything needed for my lessons planned down to a ‘t’, and then be so exhausted from the effort I had expended, I wouldn’t be able to plan anything else.
So I would find myself wasting my evenings, and my weekends – either by missing out from not planning ahead (all those hundreds of movies I didn’t make it to…) or not realizing how little time I had to do absolutely everything in.
But then, dear reader, I discovered one of the most effective tools of my life (well, other than mindfulness): the art of time management, using carefully planned (but very quick) time management activities.
And I’m going to share my favorites with you.
Effective Time Management – the How To
Are you ready? Because once you see these, you’ll be experiencing and enjoying your time in ways you’ve never experienced before.
Here we go – in order of the most useful and my favorites:
- The Under 2 Minutes Rule
This is the easiest of all time management activities – the under 2 minutes rules.
All it means is – if something will take you under 2 minutes to complete – do it right away.
Easy examples of this are: replying to that email you’ve been meaning to; putting the laundry on; taking the garbage outside.
- The Numbered List
Just a tiny step up from the ease of the Under 2 Minutes Rule is the Numbered List.
This is time management in its simplest form: simply take all the stuff you want to get done, and number it in order of priority.
So for example, your list might look a little something like this:
- Take the dog to the vet (by 12pm)
- Go to the supermarket (by 8pm)
- Finish writing the report (by date)
And so on.
Two quick tips here:
- You see how I put deadlines next to each task? It’s an easy way to up your time management game.
- If you want quick time management wins, put all of your Under 2 Minutes tasks at the top of your list. When you complete them, you’ll be in a mindset to complete even more of your list!
- The Urgent/Important Grid
Here’s where things get a little more complicated.
Depending on the type of person you are, some of these time management activities might suit you more than others.
I like the Urgent/Important graph a lot, but I know other people who’ve found the grid confusing. At the end of this list, I’ll show you how you can use all of these time management activities to work together, to make you the baddest time management ninja of them all.
How it works is this: you draw a box, divided into four boxes, and write labels in each one:
- U/I: urgent and important
- U/NI: urgent but not important
- I/NU: important, not urgent
- NI/NU: not important and not urgent
You need to decide which of your tasks and urgent and important, and so on. Then you start filling in the boxes, so for example:
You see? Easy!
- Priority, Check, Reflect
This is the next step of time management – once you’re set on getting into the swing of things with basic time management, you’ll be self-disciplined and organized enough to try this highly effective time management strategy out.
I call it ‘Priority – Check – Reflect’, as it does what it says on the tin.
The way it works: you start off with the Numbered List, numbered according to priority.
Make sure to write the deadline next to it, as I did in the example above.
Here’s where it gets interesting: you choose a time – it could be once a day, twice a day, once a week or whatever suits you and your deadlines – and for five minutes, you check over your list, re-prioritizing or changing deadlines as you need to. Rinse and repeat.
The tricky part of this isn’t setting the priorities and deadlines – it’s sticking to them, as well as making sure you stop and reflect – and are honest with yourself about what you are doing and what you haven’t got around to.
All that said, this one is a complete gamechanger.
How to Improve your Time Management
And there you have it. Effective time management is so easy to do – once you have the right tools.
And speaking of which – I’ve created a nice little Time Management Hacks cheat sheet, just for you.
Enter your email below to be taken to the download page:
Good luck, and may all your time be organized, well-spent – and happy!
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Also published on Medium.