Time ManagementMonday, September 25, 2006
I’ve been asked how I keep my busy life on track. Honestly, it’s become second nature and don’t put much thought into it. But, now that I sit here I realize there are some tips I can share to hopefully keep you organized. But, first things first:
Get yourself a schedule
It doesn’t matter if it’s a day planner, a sheet of paper, a todo list, my weekly schedule tool, or Google Calendar. Get yourself something to jot down everything. By having a place to put all this information you free up your mind to take care of other important things. Plus, it’s far less stressful when you have one resource instead of a dozen sticky note reminders. That resource should be your ‘dump’ for everything going on.
Fill every hour, every day
People tease me and ask “wow Devin, when do you sleep?” I come back with an answer becuase I have it planned. Seriously. In order to remain productive I sit down and fill every hour every day. In theory, that provides for less distractions. It also forces me to look at what I’m doing and make sure I’m balanced. My Google Calendar helps:
At a glance I can tell that any day after Tuesday is has time to fill. These are good days to throw in dinner with a friend, a movie, or time to read a book. Once I’ve filled my calendar with the meat (class, work, sleep) then I can just fill in the gaps. I can also tell when I’m working too much and need more personal time. I highly recommend Google Calendar because you can get different views, search for and easily drag/drop events. I can’t do that with paper.
I’m pretty bad at this but it’s so important to your success here. Sure, I do a lot of things but by remaining focused and on task I can accomplish a lot more in a lot less time. When you’re distracted by email, blogs, music, television you’re only hurting yourself. Of course, you always treat yourself to ‘distractions’ once you hit milestones.
Shit happens. Things come up and stuff has to be fluid. If I end up taking an extra hour to do homework tonight I need to bump an hour of relaxing and project time into tomorrow. Maybe tonight I chop 90 minutes off my sleep. Maybe I don’t get to nap. Life is dynamic and realize your scheduling needs to be, as well. Again, some of the ‘meat’ can never change but you should put yourself in situations where you can make simple changes. The hardest part here should be the cooperation of others. For example, some things came up last week and I ended up taking much more time than I planned to do some work. I compensated by scheduling my time earlier in the week to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
It’s worked for me
This may seem crazy but by scheduling all of your time you’re removing your emotions from the situation. Once you’re knee-deep in work you get tired, lazy, etc. Remind yourself that you created your schedule (with a clear mind) for a good reason and you should stick to it. Or else you’ll regret it later. It’s like setting your alarm clock: you picked that time for a reason, don’t tell yourself ‘only 10 more minutes’.
On the other hand, I’m sure this is not for everyone. Personally, sometimes I probably wouldn’t know where I had to be if I didn’t have my schedule. Is that overkill? I really don’t think so. Once you get in the habit its easier to do more with less.
More with less, that sounds like the smart thing to do, right? How do you do it? Do you have any tips or systems that work for you?