As a young adult in my first full-time job, I’m finding the concept of time management extremely important yet also difficult to practice.
I had a lot on my plate during college. My senior year, I took a full load of classes and worked two jobs while dating and maintaining friendships. I tend to take on too much and spread myself too thin until I’m exhausted and finally realize I need to cut back on some commitments. I’ve always been that way. I bite off more than I can chew.
I’m still adjusting to working eight hours a day and then finding time after work to do everything I want to do. I live with my parents, so I don’t even have to cook dinner for myself. I don’t have many household responsibilities, yet I still struggle with managing my time sometimes.
I was told lately (at no surprise to me) that I tend to start a lot of things and not finish them. I think I have more time than I really do, and I’m overly ambitious when I think about how much I can accomplish in a given amount of time. As a result, I came up with a few strategies that help me manage my time better.
1. Make sleep a priority. I don’t do this nearly as often as I should, but sleep is crucial to using your time well. When I go to work on little sleep, I come home and nap. I’m sluggish. I hardly accomplish anything except eating dinner and falling asleep while watching TV because I simply don’t have the energy to do much else.
When I do get a full night’s rest, I am much more productive. Not only do I finish things faster, but I can do more. I don’t run out of energy as quickly. I focus better and don’t put things off for another time when I’m not as tired.
2. Plan realistically and prioritize. This is also where I fail, and this is also another area where if done well, really helps with time management. I tend to think I can accomplish more than I really can, so I never allow enough time for my projects.
Evaluating your priorities really helps here because you can allot an appropriate amount of time for things that really need to be done. If you have extra time, then you can do some of the smaller things that aren’t quite as important.
3. Take it one thing at a time. I love to make lists when I have a lot of things to do. I tend to start multiple projects at once, and since I’m a multi-tasker, sometimes I actually work better that way. And then sometimes it also comes back to hurt me.
For example, I’m made a lot of Christmas presents this year instead of buying them. I started multiple projects at once, but that means nothing really gets done. Instead of taking them one at a time and finishing what I can, I end up finishing nothing.
I’m often racing against the clock to finish, for example, three knitting projects all at once. If I’d focus on one project at a time, I’d be more productive. I’d see my results faster, which would lessen stress and encourage me to keep at it and stay focused.
These are just a few things that I’ve found help me use my time better. How do you manage your time, and what are some strategies that help you?