One would think that the more time you have, the more productive you are; however, that is not always the case. The lack of structure can actually make it even more challenging to increase your productivity during the day. When you have your day set with booked appointments, assigned work hours, and planned engagements, you can be held accountable for how you are investing your time.
Due to the current pandemic we are facing, there are many people who now have more time than they ever did before. Many find themselves unemployed or are forced to stay at home the majority of the day due to social distancing practices and business closures which has also put limits on our social lives. Time is one of our most valuable resources so it is essential to actually maximize this extra time we now have on our hands rather than let it waste away and have nothing to show for it. I am not saying that you should not utilize this time towards some relaxation or to catch up on some Netflix series but do you want to look back during this moment in your life and see it as lost time in which you could have done more but you didn’t?
Whether we are living through a pandemic or not, let’s take a look at some ways to better manage your time during your day-to-day life:
- Plan Your Day the Day Before – If you do not already take the time to write daily to-do lists for yourself, then now is a good time to start. When I say write it down, I literally mean, get out a piece of paper and a pen and write it down! If you prefer the more digital route and rather write your lists on your cell phone or computer, then that can work effectively as long as you actually look at it and have access to it. I am constantly writing to do lists for myself for the week and for the day ahead. I find writing a general list of what I absolutely want to get done the day before is a good time management technique because I am planting the seed in my mind the day before of what my upcoming day is going to look like as opposed to just being spontaneous about it. Often times, I do not get every single thing accomplished and that is okay! I make sure I prioritize what is most important that I get done first and leave the remaining items on the list for the following day. Certain tasks might take a series of days to accomplish anyhow so it is important to be realistic about how much you can actually do. Everyone has their own way of pacing themselves and the goal is to find that balance without stressing yourself with too much or not assigning yourself with enough things to do to begin with.
- Set Alarms and Set Aside Specific Times – If you want to take your daily to-do list a step further, choose specific times of your day that you are actually going to do a certain activity. When I set an alarm during the day and it goes off, I know I have to stop whatever it was that I was currently doing to go work on the assigned task I wanted to accomplish at that specific time. This is important because if you do not assign a time, you might keep putting it off until you reach the end of the night and you realize you did not get what you really wanted to get done. Even if it is a simple task, setting an appointment for yourself will better ensure that you follow through and can check it off your list by the end of the day.
- Reduce the Digital Distractions – We live in a world where often times we are attached to our cell phones and/or computers. It is okay to put it aside sometimes and not check on it at certain points during your day. There are ways to reduce the distractions by turning off all the notifications altogether or by leaving the phone in another room so it is not at arm’s reach. This way there is no temptation to pick it up and check on your latest messages or get lost on social media.
- Incorporate Do Not Disturb Hours – Mainly at night, I literally have “do not disturb” hours at a certain point where I will not take any phone calls after a certain time. Lately, my evenings have been my designated times of productivity in which I refuse to take a phone call during those hours. I will just let it go to voicemail or I might send a quick text saying that I will return the phone call the following day or at a time that works best for them. Whatever those times are for you, set blocks of time during the day that you will under no circumstances (unless it is an emergency) take phone calls. This will help you stay focused and get more accomplished without any disruptions.
- Find Ways to Recharge – As much as it is important to want to stay self motivated and want to accomplish as much as you can in one day, there should also be some down time and breaks added to prevent yourself from over working yourself. For me personally, I like to go out for a walk on a nice day or I might take the time to connect with someone by making a phone call. Another way I like to recharge is by taking a mini coffee break for an energy boost or on the opposite extreme, I find an afternoon nap to be extra satisfying and a real luxury when I make the time for one. The importance of clocking in enough sleep cannot be underestimated so on days I went to bed late and woke up too early, I find taking a nap in the mid afternoon can be extra beneficial in order for me to get more done later that day simply by obtaining a little extra rest.
This highlights some ways to more effectively manage your time, especially during instances when you might have more time than usual and want to continue to stay productive.