How many times have you thought to yourself, “there’s just not enough hours in the day”? If you’re reading this article, chances are—a lot. The goal when doing or investing in most things is to “save time”. While we all could use more time to spend with our families or get more done throughout the day, saving time isn’t necessarily the solution.
Managing your time properly is the solution. Building productive habits and holding value to your time makes is essential if you want to save time and achieve more every day. If you’re struggling to get a grip and find the cycle of lost time to be relentless—with something else to do always in your peripheral—follow along to learn how to save time and work well with what you’ve got.
1. Knowing Your Numbers Will Help You Budget Your Time
It can be a tough pill to swallow when you realize that we all have the same 24 hours each day, right? What it comes down to is the brass tacks—you have got to know exactly where your time goes every day.
You’re aware that you shouldn’t spend more than X amount of money on fast food per month or you might go over budget. But what do you know about your time? You know it takes 20 minutes to get to work every day. But what do you know about how much time you spend on your phone?
Are you aware that the majority of Americans spend over two hours per day, just on social media? If this is you, consider what you could accomplish over those two hours, allowing you to provide yourself with guilt-free scrolling in the evening.
Recognizing where you’re losing time—and the tasks in your life that are taking unnecessary amounts of time—is key to gaining control of your day. Treat your time like you do your bank account, and you’re ready to save more time.
Questions to Ask Yourself to Evaluate Your Time:
- How much time do you spend on the internet or social media per day?
- How much time do you spend watching TV per day?
- Do you do any tasks that could be done by someone else?
- What needs more of your time?
- How much work could you get done without any distractions?
Once you’ve figured out your daily numbers, multiply that by seven and see just how much time you have to work with each week.
2. Getting Organized Will Bring Much Needed Structure
Once you’re clear on where your time goes and how much time you actually have to dedicate to your to-do list, begin to structure your day. Use a process called time blocking. Time blocking is the process of scheduling out your day so you know exactly when you will be doing what.
Plan your days and weeks ahead of time by setting a schedule, and then take time each morning to plan your day. It may seem like waking up and planning your day every day would just add to your time struggle, but it’s been reported that taking less than 15 minutes to plan your day can actually save you two hours throughout the day.
When you take a moment to get intentional with your day and with your time, you will be able to do two things: prioritize and delegate.
Understanding exactly what needs to happen within your day allows you to see what is the most important, ensuring that it gets done no matter what. Having a plan of action for your day will also help you stay focused and have a clear mindset for how you need to move to accomplish what you want to get done.
Recognizing where your time is not needed is also a pillar of time management. By organizing your day each day, you can see what on your to-do list might be better served by someone else. Let’s face it—at the end of the day, are the dishes and the vacuuming where your time is most useful? Necessary, nonetheless—so then we delegate.
Once you begin to implement these practices, you can then see where developing processes to tackle tasks and save time is essential. Whether it’s chore rotation to share the load or hiring help to come in during Tuesdays, structure and plans are the keys to success and time freedom.
3. Streamline With Help of Delegation and Outsourcing
It’s easy to say, “just get organized!” and you’ll have more time, but this is often where a large part of the struggle lies. Time management is a skill and a practice—no doubt—but it’s totally achievable.
It begins with learning your options. We live in a beautiful world of technology where there is an app for everything. Time management tools exist, you just have to find them and learn them. And maybe technology isn’t your thing—that’s okay, too. You can just as well create your own tools and processes to increase your productivity.
Once you’ve realized where you can delegate, you then need to figure out how to delegate. Maybe you can’t implement a chore chart, but you can use an app to find a freelance maid who is more than happy to do your dishes at a low cost.
And maybe you don’t want to pay someone to clean your home for a myriad of reasons, but you can schedule the same 10 minutes each day to wash your dishes to avoid an hour-long pile-up. Listen to a podcast on productivity while you do it, and it’s suddenly not squandered time—and perhaps even insightful.
Streamlining your processes will take time, but eventually, your days will be running like a well-oiled machine. If you need help with organization, there are free management tools that allow you to easily line out your days or categorize your to-do list. Having a visual component to your day will help get some of those thoughts out of your head and allow you to track your progress.
Quick Tips for Streamlining Your Day:
- Plan your day the night before or in the morning.
- Begin to wake up earlier, a little at a time.
- Avoid your phone first thing in the morning.
- Take care of tasks that are almost done.
- Evaluate when you’re most productive time and schedule accordingly.
- Create a process for everything.
- When to plan your meals for the week…
- Who’s cooking the meals…
- When you’re going to clean…
- When you’re going to work out…
- Who’s taking the kids to school…
- Morning routine…
- Evening routine…
As you begin to develop helpful habits and learn to create processes for each part of your life, you’ll begin to see less pile-up of obligations, less time wasted, and more things accomplished throughout your day.
4. Avoid Burnout by Gaining Control of Your Day
The cycle of lost time can be a nasty one—especially if you have kids. It can seem like one wrong step and suddenly, your house is a complete disaster, you have three things to address in the mail, and you’re running late to work or school drop off.
As this cycle continues, it’s likely that your stress levels are up, and your focus is off from the spin out of things needing your attention. Then, you’re left with decreased productivity, overwhelm, and often hopelessness. This cycle is called burnout. You’ve reached your wit’s end and it seems difficult to even know where to begin to get back on track.
Investing in time management practices and strategies—however imposing on your current schedule they may feel—will actually help you avoid burnout. Gaining control of your time means gaining control of your day, and gaining control of your day means gaining control of your life.
Sometimes, the hardest things can truly be so simple. As a (sometimes) functioning adult, you likely have the tools right in your mind to evaluate and structure your day. Yes, it can be hard to zoom in when the zoom out is so cluttered, but when you take it a little bit at a time, you’ll realize that you can do this.
Then it’s just a matter of finding what works for you—whether you’re a night planner or a day planner, whether you can afford to stop doing the dishes, and whether you prefer to outline your life digitally or on paper.