One of the biggest issues plaguing millennials and Gen-Z alike is time management. With almost everyone navigating work, social life, home, and hobbies all at once, the constant pressure to be on top of the game in every sphere is the leading cause of burnout. Time management is key to boosting productivity. Planning how to efficiently use one’s time and control how to spend it is an art in itself. Research has proven that managing time effectively has a significant impact on mental health and overall well-being. This year, follow these tips to ensure that you manage time effectively and live your best life.
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Have a schedule & stick to it
The first step in managing one’s time efficiently is making a schedule and sticking to it. Ideally, a daily schedule should be created with time allotted for each activity for each task. But that is not enough. Creating realistic timelines along with a time buffer in case the task is not completed, is equally important. Company Secretary, Prerna Bhansali Mehta, 45, from Jaipur must agree. “For me, time management is about managing your chores in the limited waking hours available to you. Keep your goals realistic, one target at a time. I like to time myself when I start a job, try and win against an imaginary competitor and this way my focus is entirely on the job at hand”.
Figure out your priorities
Scheduling and making to-do lists are good first steps but sometimes a long list may become so overwhelming, it may turn out to be counterproductive. Superlatively, important tasks with deadlines or pending chores should be given prima facie importance in one’s list and one should begin there. With any to-do list, there will be some items which can be scheduled for later, and which do not require immediate attention—those should be scheduled next. Creating a working list according to priorities is key to managing one’s time efficiently. Professional organizing company owner, Marcia Sloman from Under Control Organizing based in Westchester County in New York, USA, agrees. “Stephen Covey in his book the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People strongly suggests scheduling your priorities as opposed to prioritizing your schedule. It helps in avoiding the disaster of not accomplishing the most important tasks. I practice and recommend this every day”, she says. Delegating tasks which do not require your personal attention is also an important tool along with eliminating unimportant tasks completely. “Many individuals over-schedule their days, ending the day with a list of tasks not done. Daily, weekly, and long-term scheduling of your priorities helps to avoid that disaster. Knowing how you spend your time is half the battle won.”
Take enough breaks
The world might promote hustle culture but taking breaks makes one more productive. Building a couple of hours of free time into the week’s schedule can be therapeutic and may reduce the chances of burnout. Taking breaks should be seamlessly incorporated into one’s schedule. Julia Gifford, from Riga, Latvia, co-founder of Truesix has mastered this art. “I swear by the 52/17 rule, which was developed by DeskTime. The idea is that you work in sprints of 52 minutes, then take a 17-minute break. I like the idea of focusing on one large task at a time, and then rewarding myself with a nice, relatively long break afterwards. It resets my focus, and then I’m ready to go for the next task. It also implements a sort of sense of urgency – you end up really wanting to complete the task at hand within those 52 minutes. So, a win-win all around!”, says Gifford.
Weed out non-essential tasks
Natasha Maddock, co-founder of Events Made Simple, a UK-based events company has a simple yet effective method to help you design the perfect time management schedule. “If you want a productive and successful 2023, then getting on top of your to-do list is a great way to start the year. Ask yourself 3 questions: Does it have to be done? Does it have to be done by me? Does it have to be done now?”
By answering these questions and forming a to-do list befitting what is actually necessary, one will definitely have an upper hand in managing their time. “By getting rid of anything that is not essential you’ll save yourself valuable time, free yourself up to focus on tasks that really matter and reduce the risk of overwhelm and burnout”, says Maddock.
Time management is not only important for work or for your chores. It is an effective tool for stress management as well. It helps in reduce long-term stress by providing a framework for when one has too much work to do. Deepti A. Srinivasan, director of counselling firm ResilienceWorks in Bengaluru explains, “We all know that effective time management is extremely important in today’s fast-paced life when even twenty-four hours are not enough. It is a fact that effective time management helps mitigate the risk of burnout and improves well-being. It inculcates a sense of control and accomplishment which are both crucial in managing stress levels.”
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Simplify your routine
So, then what is an effective time management technique to make life a little easier and to inculcate some self-discipline in life? “Drop perfection and simplify your routine. Avoid multitasking and share responsibilities where possible. And be vigilant for things that quietly eat up your time – video games, social media and remember to factor in time for rest and relaxation”, says Srinivasan.