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Please accept my sincere apologies. Does it seem like I’m always apologizing?? This post isn’t about time management because there’s no such thing as time management. Time is…time, and last time I checked, we only have 24 hours in a day.
But there’s good news. Even though you can’t manage time per se, you can manage what you do with your time, and that’s what I’m here to help you with!
Pin me to come back to this post later!
I’m trying to make your life easier here, not overwhelm you, so I broke these tips down into categories:
- Getting Things Done
- Getting Organized
- Getting Focused
- Social Media
- Getting Rejuvenated/Rest
To make the most of this list, don’t try to do every single one of these things at once. In reality, you may never want to try some of them.
I challenge you to find just ONE tip you’ll start using right now. Right this very day. Find 2-3 others that you’ll try out later this month or next month. Once you make those things habits, you can come back again and again.
26 ways to manage your time better
getting things done
Ditch your to-do list.
No, forreal. Your to-do list is probably a waste. I could tell you all the reasons to-do lists are counterproductive, but I’ve already done that here on The Confused Millennial’s blog.
I’ll just summarize by saying this: to-do lists end up being long, overwhelming lists that you rarely ever finish. Sound familiar?
Trust me. There’s a better way. Coming right up…
Use the Eisenhower method.
Unlike a to-do list, the Eisenhower method encourages you to prioritize things that need to get done. That way, you’re being strategic about tasks instead of randomly choosing things to work on.
The Get Shit Done template that I created specifically for LaziMILLENNIALs is based on this method. It’s all yours for free!
You can print it as many times as you want to use for your daily, weekly, or monthly planning!
Eat a frog.
Once you prioritize your most important tasks for the day, the hard part is actually doing them. Take a word of advice from Mark Twain: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
In other words, do the gross, hard stuff first. If you have some complex, annoying, or stressful task to do, just do it and get it out of the way. That way everything else you do that day will be relatively easier. Plus you’ll get a huge dopamine surge once you get that yucky task taken care of.
Say this one, powerful word.
It’s pretty simple (and it’s also a part of the Eisenhower method!) Not everything is worth your time, money, or attention. If it’s not urgent or important, it might not need to be on your radar.
Need practice saying no? Check out my favorite book on minimalism.
Nope – not talking about cookies, although a batch of chocolate chips sounds miiiighty nice right now.
Batch things you need to do into similar categories so that you can make the most of your brainpower and knock things out more quickly.
For example, in my inbox, there’s an email I need to respond to. Instead of stepping away from whatever I’m doing, responding to that 1 email now, then going back to what I’m doing, THEN being in the same boat all over again when another email comes through…I’m going to set aside blocks of 20-30 minutes throughout the day to handle all email-related tasks.
That’s the essence of batching.
Don’t forget about the big picture.
If you think about it, most of your daily tasks aren’t standalone. What I mean is, they’re related to some larger task or goal you’re trying to achieve.
For example, if one of my tasks for Sunday is to cook dinner, that might be part of a larger goal to eat more healthy or eat out less.
Straighten up your workspace.
Being productive can be tough enough without being surrounded by chaos. Working in a clean, tidy space can have major benefits on your ability to focus and produce the results you’re looking for.
So if you’re feeling scatterbrained, look around and make sure your environment isn’t to blame.
SCATTERBRAIN, YOU'VE BEEN CRYING IN THE RAIN.– Emiliana Torrini
Create a routine.
Not everyone is a “routine person” but a little consistency can do wonders for managing your time.
If you’re just getting into the whole routine thing, start small.
For example, you could have a morning routine – wake up, brush your teeth, make a cup of tea, and read the news for 20 minutes. (If you want to avoid a bottomless pit, try to avoid checking email and social media during your morning routine.)
You could also have a mid-afternoon routine to give your brain and body a jump, or a nighttime routine to help you wind down before bed.
Schedule your days.
Warning: This one’s gonna be overkill for some people, but it’s actually perfect for me.
See where you land.
At the start of each day, I already know what I need to accomplish because I figured it out the night before in my micro-goal-setting exercises.
But I don’t know how I’m going to feel from day-to-day and hour-to-hour, so I don’t know when I’m going to be “in the mood” to do certain tasks.
If you schedule out your day into specific times, you’ll be able to make sure you complete all your important tasks for the day.
Use a calendar or calendar app.
Monthly calendars are my favorite to use because you get a high-level overview plus a small dose of detail. If you have a job or interest with lots of moving parts, you really, really need to use a calendar to keep track of everything.
Personally, I prefer large, paper calendars, but if you prefer phone apps, here are a few you can try:
Use a planner.
A calendar, while incredibly useful, is more limited in what it can do and how you can use it. On the other hand, a planner can serve as a calendar and much more:
- a note-taker
- a goal-setter
- a homework ledger
- a journal
Become a BuJo pro.
There you have it – the first and last time you will EVER see me use the word “bujo!”
What the hell is…that thing…you ask? It’s short for bullet journal, which is all the rage these days.
Think of a bullet journal as a cross between a sketchbook, a planner, and a diary.
Hardcore bullet journalers love them because they are 100% customizable and can basically be whatever you want them to be. They’re like the Room of Requirement of planners.
(If you understood that reference, we’re officially besties!)
Check out my favorite bullet journals on Amazon!
Clear your head before you go to bed.
My band director was one of the best life coaches. He use to always yell stress to us the importance of planning ahead.
One example of planning ahead is planning out your day before your day even gets here.
Just before bed is a great time to plan out the next day because it helps to clear your head so that you can get a great night of sleep.
Organize your office space.
We’re back to that whole messy room thing, except this time I’m coming for your office.
Don’t forget to reflect some personality through your office décor.
Organize your email inbox.
This task may be the most daunting of them all so far, especially if you’re like my husband with 20K+ unread email messages. Do those notifications not bother you???
If your email inbox is a cesspool of spam, random newsletters you’ll never read, and old coupons, it’s time for you to clean. that. ish. up.
Delete what you don’t need. For everything left over, create very specific folders and/or labels so that you can find what you need when you need it.
And for goodness sake, unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe (not from LaziMILLENNIAL though ;-)…By the way, click here to get The LaziMILLENNIAL Letter if you’re not already)!
Try your hardest not to multi-task.
Look, this is what millennials do. This is WHAT WE DO. I know this goes against our nature, but hear me out.
Just because it’s what we do doesn’t mean it’s productive.
You can be focused…or you can multi-task. You can’t do both, because if you’re truly focused, then that means you’re only focusing on one thing. Don’t believe me? Check out this NPR article.
I know sometimes multi-tasking is unavoidable, but at times when you need to be as productive as possible, try your hardest to focus on one task at a time. (That means close out of all 47 of your browser tabs.)
Use the Pomodoro technique.
I hate traditional cardio like walking, jogging, ellipticalling, and stairmastering. It’s redundant and boring AF. Concentrating on any one thing for hours on end is boring.
That’s why the Pomodoro technique makes me so happy!
The Pomodoro technique structures your work time and break time into 25 and 10 minute intervals. In other words, work hard for 25 minutes, rest for 10. Do that over and over, then after 4 Pomodoros, take a longer break.
It’s basically a really effective mind game. Productivity, HIIT-style. You’re able to hunker down and focus for 25 minutes because you know you have a 10 minute break coming up.
Turn on the tunes.
My Pandora account is filled with about 45 stations to fit my various moods, and some of them (Classical for Studying, New Age Ambient) are specifically for times when I need to focus.
Certain types of music, even if just playing softly in the background, can really help put you in the mindset to grind it out.
These days, my go-to playlist is Spotify’s Your Favorite Coffeehouse.
Consume Less. Create More.
In addition to being my 2018 mantra, this idea is something that also helps me manage my time better.
Don’t get so bogged down in researching, learning, and Googling, that you barely have time to do and create. Sure, background info is important but what you learn from doing is invaluable. So the faster you start producing, (the quicker you fail), the more you will learn and the better your results will be.
Pre-schedule your social media time.
Social media is a drug and the idea of it is to get you hooked. I think it’s safe to say: it works.
If you find that you’re wasting most of your time on social media, limit your social media activity by scheduling out specific blocks of time you’ll allow yourself to use it.
Remember earlier when I mentioned scheduling out your day with time blocks? You can include social media time in that schedule too.
Delete social media apps.
If you’re not disciplined enough to avoid social media at certain times of day, just delete the apps from your phone altogether.
I’ve done this several times – once when I was studying for my boards, once for Lent, and a few other times when I was just overwhelmed by all the content.
It works if you’re not the type to go through the trouble of redownloading! 🙂
Avoid YouTube rabbitholes.
My favorite rabbithole on YouTube is the one that starts with listening to just one 90’s R&B throwback. Then one more… Then one more…
Next thing I know, it’s 2 hours later and I’ve accomplished nothing, except a bomb ass Toni Braxton+Destiny’s Child+Deborah Cox karaoke session.
To avoid YouTube rabbitholes like the plague, stick to streaming services like Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, and Apple Music.
When you create your daily schedule, don’t forget to plan time for rest. Women tend to have a superwoman complex, and men tend to be workaholics. Both can be highly motivating and produce great results sometimes, but if you don’t schedule time for breaks, you will quickly burn out.
Writing down your breaks/play/rest time will make you much more likely to stick to it.
Don’t skip meals.
Skipping meals may sounds like a good idea in the moment. Maybe you’re trying to meet a deadline and don’t have time to eat. Or maybe you’re just so busy that you forget to eat.
Maintaining a steady blood sugar level is the best way to make sure your body and mind are in tip-top shape to conquer the world! If you’re prone to forget to eat, include meal times in your schedule too!
HelloFresh provides you with 15-30 minute recipes AND all the ingredients you need to make them. You don’t have to spend time figuring out what to cook or shopping for groceries. The kit is delivered to your door, and you handle the rest from there.
Read relevant books.
If you’re a bookworm, reading can be an awesome self-care activity. Even taking 20 minutes to read in the morning or before going to bed can provide some much-needed relaxation.
Even better if it’s a book about being more productive and managing your time.
Here are a few of my favorites that you may want to check out. Just click the pictures below to read more about them on Amazon.
Outsource, outsource, outsource.
One thing many women, including me, struggle with is balancing professional and personal goals with household responsibilities. Frankly, hubby and I are better off paying someone else to take care of a lot of our household admin tasks than trying to work full-time, parent full-time, hustle part-time AND take care of the house.
For busy, ambitious millennials, the amount of tasks we’re able to outsource is a blessing. If you’re wondering how you can make more free time in your day, consult this list of tasks to potentially delegate to someone else.
| Related Post: Create More Free Time: How to Outsource Your Life
But if you can find 1-2 strategies to implement over the next month, and then 2-3 to implement over the next 6 months, and maybe a few more to add on over the next year, you’ll start to see improvements in your productivity and the use of your precious time.