Today we all seem to have limited amount of time. For some reason, we are all extremely busy, even with all the time saving devices and gadgets. We need to get a handle on it so that we can take control of our days, rather than our days controlling us.
I am not great at time management, so this blog today is a more realistic, honest approach to time management from someone who is continually working toward gaining better time management skills.
I know when I am feeling overwhelmed and out of control, I need to sit back and regroup. Here are some tips and tactics I have learned over time and use to help me get my life back on track
This was not always an easy task for me. I struggled with trying to listen to what others suggested for how I should schedule. I have recently realized, we are all different. We aren't all able to use the same techniques as everyone else. Find what works for you! I tried for many years to schedule my day using an hour by hour plan. All it took for that to derail was an unplanned event and boom, my schedule was blown and I felt defeated. Today, I merely make a list of things I need to accomplish for the day and then jot them down in my planner. There is not a scheduled time for the activity to take place, as long as it gets done. Of course there are things with set times, such as appointments, then they do require a time slot. However, for most of the day, I simply look at what needs to be done and work around my day in a way that best suits my needs. It is very satisfying to have a list and to be able to check off completed tasks. It makes me feel very accomplished.
2. Be Flexible
Another skill I have learned in order to be realistic, is to be flexible. Life has many surprises and day to day, things may change and unplanned interruptions and events may take place. I cannot let it throw me off. I have to adjust to it. Perfection has to be thrown out the window when we are honestly dealing with a realistic life. When I am working away at my scheduled tasks and an interruption occurs, I simply put my work aside and deal with the issue as best I can. I tell myself it is not the end of the world if my schedule has to change. As a matter of fact, I now take it as a challenge. I challenge myself to handle the urgent matter that has hijacked my day and get back on track as soon as I can. If the daily schedule is shot, so be it, I will manage things better the next day. I tell myself to not worry, it will get done!
This is probably the most important tip to use. What, on your list, is the most important task to accomplish? If it can't wait, you have to get it done first. Especially before the day goes on and things start to get in the way. If the item has low priority, put it last. That way, if the unexpected happens, you can push it off to the next day, if time runs out for you.
4. Look at the big picture
Look ahead at the week and even the month ahead. For me, that is about as far as I can handle to keep my scheduling under control. I hope as I progress and get better with my time management skills, I can plan farther out. But, you know, it is OK. Not everyone can do that. This works for me right now and I feel successful just looking ahead at the week and maybe the month. This way I can see what is coming and have an idea what I have to plan for the next week. Honestly, at this point in my development, I can only schedule a week at a time. Not to say that I don't put further out appointments and tasks on my calendar, yes I do that. However, my scheduling is done day by day for the week I am in. I feel so much better and in control that way and it doesn't overwhelm me to see lots of items ahead of me.
5. Clean and Prepare your Work Area
This is a personal requirement for myself. I cannot work in clutter and chaos. I have to have my work space in order. It helps me keep on task and focused on what I am working on. As I sit here now, as a matter of fact, I am at the dining room table with my laptop, my schedule, and my notes for this blog. I feel great and I can work well. I know if I have other stuff around me like bills, or stacks of papers, I will get sidetracked. Typically, before I start my work, I clean my work area and get that obstacle out of my way.
6. Just get started
I know if I sit around and stew about getting started on my tasks, it makes me crazy and starts making me feel bad about myself. I find that talking to myself and telling myself to just do it really helps. Just dive in and get going. You will find your creative juices start flowing and tasks start getting accomplished. That success feeds more motivation and energy to complete your tasks for the day as you are marking off each one. I can't tell you how great it feels to check off my list and see at the end of the day, a completed list. Just get started!
7. Be honest and realistic
All in all, the main advice I can give is to be honest with yourself. Try different ways to manage your time. Find what works best for YOU! Fine tune it and let it fuel and energize you. Be realistic! We are all different people. Stop trying to follow someone else's advice on how to manage YOUR time. It may not work for you.....find what does and get to it!
I hope this honest approach helps you! I know it helped me and it was like a revelation to me! I thought to myself, FINALLY, I have found a way to manage my time that works for ME. It isn't perfect by any means but it is a work in progress. I see myself improving as time goes on and being able to have an orderly, time managed life! That is my goal and I'm sticking to it!
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Health and happiness,
Alicia Williamson RN, BSN, MSNW, CHC
Kylie Glastetter BA, MS, EP-C, CHC
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