We get it—managing your day-to-day is hard. With the seemingly endless commitments tied to everything from managing your career and professional responsibilities to managing your home, your family and the extracurriculars and obligations that follow, it’s hard to navigate the 24/7 efficiently and effectively. The end result? Stress, anxiety and a constant feeling of, simply, being behind, all the direct result of a mounting to-do list that never seems to get shorter.
While there’s no silver bullet for managing your sometimes-hectic life, there are simple solutions for improving your time management and, with it striking a better balance so you can—finally—breathe. Start here and see where you can begin making these critical changes. Done right, these methods can improve your approach to tackling your to-dos and help you drive greater productivity and greater happiness.
TIP 1: Set small goals
The first step in any improvement plan is to understand where you are and what, specifically, is holding you back. Time management is no exception.
In this case, jot down everything you do for the next three to five days and see where you’re wasting time. Don’t be embarrassed or think your alone if your number is high. More than three in five people say they waste 30 to 60 minutes each day, and one in four wastes two-plus hours per day.
Once you’ve analyzed your day, focus on setting very specific, very attainable time management goals that will help you achieve more. For example, if you find yourself falling into the social media black hole every time you hop on Facebook, commit to not checking your Newsfeed until after work hours. Same goes for personal calls, texts and even email-checking—if you’re wasting time, set concrete parameters like not responding to texts before 5pm, or only checking email at set times.
TIP 2: Organize every day
Spend 15 to 30 minutes at the beginning of each day mapping out what next. The goal here is to plan the work then work the plan—identify the tasks you need to accomplish and, from there, how and when you’ll accomplish them.
If it’s helpful, consider organizing your day hour by hour or by time of day, then identify what tasks need to happen during those finite periods. Be sure to build in breaks and scheduled interruptions—the reality is, both happen. The better you plan, the less your schedule will be impacted.
TIP 3: Stick to your schedule
One of the biggest obstacles to time management is other people—the call that runs over, the quick hello that turns into a full sit-down and the added time spent on everything from project reviews to meetings to presentations.
To avoid those pitfalls, make others aware of your schedule in advance, and don’t be afraid to reiterate you’re on a schedule. For example, if you schedule 30 minutes for a conference call, let everyone know you have a hard stop at that time. If things don’t seem to be wrapping up within 20 to 25 minutes, remind participants you need to hop off. In most cases, it’s easy to tie up loose ends quickly or, even, recap and determine next steps via email.
TIP 4: Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize
It’s easy to fall into the trap of calling everything a priority. To avoid this, use the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, which divides tasks into four quadrants: important/urgent, important/not urgent, urgent/not important and not urgent/not important. Even if you’re beyond busy, this matrix forces your hand a bit, pushing you to prioritize your competing goals. Once you do that, it’s easier to work through your list while ensuring the most mission-critical tasks get done first.
TIP 5: Don’t be afraid to say no
It’s easy to get overloaded when you say yes to everything. While it’s tempting, the more you take on, often, the less you can accomplish successfully—and, in those cases, no one wins. If your schedule is at max capacity, don’t be afraid to say no to something that doesn’t require your attention. Same goes for checking emails the second they come in or always answering your phone. You don’t have to “say yes” to every request for your time—and those rings and pings are just that.
TIP 6: Bring in help
Delegation is important, especially when you’re feeling crunched. But don’t forget about other delegation options besides your colleagues or loved ones. Many busy New Yorkers tap Elite Custom Concierge’s full suite of support services to help them make the most out of every day. From personal assistant services in NYC and personal concierge services in NYC to lifestyle management services and business support including corporate event planning in NYC, Elite covers it all with experts dedicated to you.
No matter the role, the task or your to-dos, Elite’s results-focused professionals will ensure your asks are handled quickly and correctly, helping you be more productive and more efficient. Our goal is simple: by providing solid connections and a customer-first approach to service and support, Elite’s experts can help our clients and their families get ahead—and stay there. Get in touch to learn more.