This article was co-authored by Arda Ozdemir, MA and by wikiHow staff writer, Jennifer Mueller, JD. Arda Ozdemir is the Executive Coach and Founder of Rise 2 Realize, a nonprofit organization in Palo Alto, California that is dedicated to providing a practical roadmap toward one's full potential in their life and career. Arda is a Reiki Master, an Emotional Freedom Technique Practitioner, and a certified HeartMath Trainer and Mentor.
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If you feel like you're stretched too thin and constantly struggling against the clock, you're not alone. Maybe we here at wikiHow can't add more hours to your day, but we can give you tips to use the time you have more wisely. Time management is a practice—the more you focus on it, the better you'll become. If you understand how you're spending your time, you can adjust your schedule so that you're focusing more on the things that are important to you.
1 1 of 11:Track your time for at least a week. Download Article
- Keep a log of how you spend every waking moment so you know where your time is going. Get a small notebook you can carry around with you or use your smartphone as a log. Write down times and what you do during that time. After a week or so, go back and look through your log to get a better picture of how you spend your day.XResearch source
- Don't cheat! If you're not honest about how you spend your time, you won't be able to improve anything. If you spent 20 minutes playing a game on your phone, write it down.
- If you want a more visual depiction, you can translate your log into pie charts or graphs to get a better idea of what tasks take up the most of your time.
2 2 of 11:Identify and eliminate bad habits. Download Article
- Look for things in your time log that are taking you off-task. You might have habits you've developed over time that are now doing you more harm than good. Maybe you check your phone every few minutes or respond to text messages immediately after receiving them. Changing your habits takes time and effort, but will help you manage your time more effectively so you have more time to do the things you enjoy and find fulfilling.XResearch source
- For example, if you find that you're frequently derailed by social media notifications, turning those notifications off will help you stay on task better. Then, you can block specific times to check your social media accounts.
- If your problem is constantly checking your phone, try putting your phone in a drawer or another room while you're working on something important.
3 3 of 11:Organize your workspace to eliminate time-sinks. Download Article
- Remove clutter from your workspace and put everything you need in reach. If your workspace is disorganized, you'll lose time trying to find things that you need. Keep necessary items close-at-hand in a designated spot so you can always find them when you need them.XResearch source
- This principle doesn't just apply to your desk at work—you can put it to good use at home as well. For example, organize your kitchen so that the utensils you use most frequently are nearest to where you use them.
4 4 of 11:Make a list of goals you want to achieve. Download Article
- Start with 3-5 goals that you can achieve within a few weeks. Your goals might be work- or school-related, personal, or a mixture. Think of things that you want to change or improve upon and figure out what you need to do to get to where you want to be. Prioritize your goals so the most important one is first—that's the one you'll spend the most quality time on.XResearch source
- Use the "SMART" method to set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.XResearch source
- For example, you might set a goal to walk 2 miles 4 days a week. If you're already in the habit of walking regularly, this goal is certainly attainable. It's also specific and measurable.
- Once you've accomplished a few goals, use that sense of achievement to motivate yourself to press further. You can move on to more complex, long-term goals. Just remember to break them down into smaller pieces so they're attainable and you're always making progress.
5 5 of 11:Use a calendar and schedule to plan. Download Article
- Mark events on a calendar and schedule daily tasks. Calendars help with long-term planning and specific events that take place at a certain date and time. Use a separate schedule for your daily tasks. Usually, your daily schedule will be fairly repetitive from day-to-day.XResearch source
- Schedule time in half-hour and hour blocks. Group similar tasks together so your brain isn't switching gears as often.XResearch source For example, you might schedule a half-hour block in the morning and in the afternoon to read and respond to emails.
- If someone asks you to do something and you're booked, don't be afraid to say "no." Trying to fit too many tasks into a day is a big reason people get stressed out.XResearch source
6 6 of 11:Categorize tasks based on their urgency and importance. Download Article
- Do tasks that are both urgent and important first. Urgency relates to the time you have to complete the task, while importance relates to a task's necessity. If a task is urgent but not important, complete it after the tasks that are both urgent and important. Then, move on to tasks that are important but not urgent.XResearch source
- Leave tasks that are neither urgent nor important for last. If possible, you can also delegate these tasks to others to complete. Since they're neither urgent nor important for you, it doesn't matter if the other person doesn't do as well with the task as you would have or takes longer than you would to get it done.
7 7 of 11:Do important tasks when you have the most energy. Download Article
- Track your energy during the day to figure out when it's at its peak. If you're a morning person, you likely have the most energy soon after you get up, then flag later on in the afternoon. Night people, on the other hand, might find that they get a burst of energy later in the evening.XResearch source
- If you have a deadline coming up soon, you might not be able to move around tasks like this. However, if you plan better for deadlines in the future, you can schedule that work for times when you have the most energy.
8 8 of 11:Delegate tasks you don't need to do yourself. Download Article
- If a task is neither urgent nor important it can probably be done by someone else. If you have the ability to delegate tasks to other people, particularly in the work environment, it can help free up some of your time and take some of the pressure off of you. Keep in mind that delegation doesn't just mean assigning a task to another person—you can also use your computer and apps to automate some of your tasks.XTrustworthy SourceEDISElectronic database of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences's peer-reviewed articlesGo to source
- For example, if you find that you usually reply the same way to specific types of emails, you can automate a response so that you can respond with a single click rather than having to type it out every time.
- Avoid thinking that you have to do everything yourself or it won't be done correctly. Give others a chance to help you, particularly with things that aren't that important or difficult. It'll free up some of your time so you can get more things done that are truly important to you.
9 9 of 11:Block out time for family and friends. Download Article
- Prioritize spending quality time with people you love. Time with your family and friends can be fulfilling and calming. Give your loved ones the gift of your attention by being present in the moments you share with them, rather than your mind being elsewhere. Find and schedule specific things to do so that you're not all just sitting in the same room on your phones.XResearch source
- For example, you might have a family dinner on an evening when everyone is going to be home at around the same time. You could also schedule a family game night and choose board games that the whole family can enjoy.
- Some things you do every day are even better with friends! For example, if you run most mornings for exercise, get a friend to run with you once or twice a week.
10 10 of 11:Keep your focus in the moment. Download Article
- Focus on the task at hand rather than letting your mind drift elsewhere.Staying in the moment rather than doing something automatically while you think about something else is part of using your time wisely. You'll get things done more efficiently and get more enjoyment out of them if you commit to them 100% when you're doing them.XResearch source
- This applies to time spent with family or friends as well. When you're eating dinner with the family, put your phone away and avoid checking your email or texting others. You'll get a lot more out of the time if you actively participate and remain present in the moment.
11 11 of 11:Take frequent breaks to keep your mind fresh. Download Article
- If possible, take a 15-20 minute break every hour. You can only focus and concentrate for so long on a specific task. Taking frequent breaks keeps you working at peak performance and ensures you don't burn out. Over time, you might find that you feel less tired at the end of the day.XResearch source
- If your work or school environment doesn't allow you to take breaks this long, you should still make an effort to take some kind of break every hour or so—even if it simply means switching tasks and doing something that doesn't take a lot of mental effort to give your brain a moment to recharge.
- For example, if you only have 10 minutes between 2 hour-long classes, you could step outside for a couple of minutes and walk around the building to help refresh your mind.
- QuestionHow can I focus on studying?Arda Ozdemir, MAArda Ozdemir is the Executive Coach and Founder of Rise 2 Realize, a nonprofit organization in Palo Alto, California that is dedicated to providing a practical roadmap toward one's full potential in their life and career. Arda is a Reiki Master, an Emotional Freedom Technique Practitioner, and a certified HeartMath Trainer and Mentor.
Career & Life CoachCareer & Life CoachExpert AnswerAllow your mind to focus on one task at a time, preferably at a time of day when you work the best. Focusing on only one task at a time might also increase your efficiency.
- QuestionHow can I improve my time management skills?Arda Ozdemir, MAArda Ozdemir is the Executive Coach and Founder of Rise 2 Realize, a nonprofit organization in Palo Alto, California that is dedicated to providing a practical roadmap toward one's full potential in their life and career. Arda is a Reiki Master, an Emotional Freedom Technique Practitioner, and a certified HeartMath Trainer and Mentor.
Career & Life CoachCareer & Life CoachExpert AnswerFactor in how much you enjoy working on each particular goal, so you can spend more time doing things that you actually enjoy doing.
- QuestionI'm working from 09:00 AM to 08:30 PM. Can I open some free time with this work schedule?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerIt depends on what you do before and after work. If you're more of a morning person, you might get up early and use a couple of hours before work to do other things. On the other hand, if you're more of a night person, you might try getting some stuff done in the evening and going to bed a little later, then getting up as late as possible before you have to go to work.
- QuestionWhat is the easiest way to fix our bedtime, mostly during the quarantine?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerSet a specific bedtime and wake-up time and stick to them. Turn off all screens and electronics about an hour before bedtime to wind down. You might also try playing soft, relaxing music and turning down the lights. Go to bed at bedtime, even if you don't feel particularly sleepy. After awhile, your body will get used to winding down and getting ready for sleep at that time.
- QuestionI have a schedule for tasks that are important to me each day, but I end up sleeping late and running out of time. What should I do?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerMake sure you're going to bed at the same time every night and set an alarm for the same time every morning. Get up at the same time even if you don't have a particular place (such as work or school) that you need to be. This will help train your body to sleep at the right times. You might also use a sleep tracking app on your smartphone to evaluate the quality of your sleep. If you're not getting enough good sleep, that might be a reason that you're sleeping in.
- QuestionHow do I start to sleep early?Community AnswerWake up early and do some exercises. Avoid your phone, TV, and other forms of technology after 10pm.
- QuestionHow do I stop myself from being lazy and not doing the things that need to be done?Community AnswerMake a list of the things you must accomplish and tackle them one at a time. Schedule your time wisely so you may take a break when you need it but still get back on task later.
- QuestionHow do I overcome by laziness if I I have a lot of tasks to complete?Community AnswerIf they are things you have to do like homework, set a time to do it and you will feel great when it's done early. If it's a goal that you have made for yourself like exercising, you need to think about how important the result is for you. Building a habit is hard. You need to know when you need to do things, and do them on time. If it's important to you, take some time to clean up your schedule. At least plan for the future when you will have more time.
- QuestionHow can I manage my timetable? My brother says playing and studying are both important, but I have to do homework, complete classwork, read textbooks, and play games. What do I do?Community AnswerPrioritize. Write all of your assignments in your planner as they're given to you, and when you're ready to do your homework, set up a time table that has the assignments in order of importance - what is due first should be your first priority. Save some time at the end to study for tests or work on projects that aren't due immediately. Play is important, but not as important as schoolwork, so playing games should always go last on your list of priorities.
- QuestionHow do I not lose interest when doing work?Community AnswerBalance the time you spend doing things. Don't keep doing tedious tasks for hours on end. Give yourself breaks from time to time, so you don't get bored.
- Save multi-tasking for tasks, such as doing laundry, that you can start and have going while you do something else.
- Try a brief meditation every morning to help calm and focus your mind to prepare for the day. Over time, you might find it brings more balance to your life and makes you feel more in control.XResearch source
About This Article
To use your time wisely, start by writing down and prioritizing your goals. Then, assign daily tasks for yourself to take small steps toward achieving those goals. Work on big projects when you feel the most energetic during the day, and be sure to remove distractions like your cell phone so you can focus. If you have too many tasks to accomplish, try delegating responsibilities to co-workers or family members! For tips on multitasking effectively, read on!
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