It’s very easy to wish there were more hours in the day. Many days it feels like you enter the office, answer a few emails, dive into one project, and then just like that, the day is over. While leaving work is usually a happy circumstance, it is the opposite when you had an extremely long, important to-do list that you barely made a dent in. Today’s “go go go” attitude paired with limitless distractions from the Internet and instant communication are a recipe for disaster when it comes to budgeting your time. Luckily, there are some tried and true methods that can help you manage limited time and a busy schedule.
Keep a Detailed Planner
While a planner may seem like an obvious essential when it comes to budgeting your time, many people do not utilize one. A planner can help you figure out what your upcoming week month, and even year looks like. By writing out your daily schedule (including meetings, project deadlines, and assignments) you get a visual representation of your upcoming days. This can help you determine when to start certain projects or when to follow-up or confirm details with coworkers.
If you’re new to the planner game, start with the big things. Go through the next three to four months and write in any important dates that you know of. Then, as your schedule and list of responsibilities grows, fill out your planner further. The more detailed you are, the more efficiently you can budget your time. Start each week by looking at the big picture of the following weeks and determine what you need to accomplish each day to stay on track.
Even though starting the next creative pitch may be much more appealing than filling out your monthly expense report, beginning with the more “fun” project can be detrimental to your time management. Instead, make a list of all of your pressing responsibilities. Next, rewrite the list with the most important task at the top and the most flexible at the bottom. Set a rule that you can’t start one project without completing or making progress with the projects that come before it on your list. By determining what needs to be done first, you are less likely to procrastinate something important for a more appealing task. Prioritizing your projects will vastly improve your time management, as you will know what you need to get done and then order in which you need to do so.
Limit Social Screen Time
It’s extremely tempting to allow yourself to take a break from working to check Twitter or scroll through Instagram. You may tell yourself you will only look for two minutes. But those few minutes easily turn into five, which turn to fifteen, which turn to twenty. Before you know it, you could have completed the task at hand with all of the time you just spent perusing through your phone. While it is completely understandable and acceptable to need to take a break during the day, limiting your social screen time can make sure you don’t take this “break” too far. Next time you go for a social media break, set an alarm for five minutes from the current time. As soon as that alarm goes off, put your phone down and get back on track. Allow yourself up to two phone breaks a day. This way, you will remain productive without becoming burnt out.