Do you often feel like you don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything you want to? Maybe you’re always running from one thing to another, struggling to get to places on time or complete tasks once you’ve started them. And maybe you get to the end of the day exhausted and feeling overwhelmed, but not quite sure what you accomplished?
Time management is an important skill that takes practice and planning to achieve. But the better you can manage your time, the better you will feel about yourself and the better you will achieve your goals.
That’s why we outlined 9 ways to make the most of your (limited) time. It’s part of our “2021 Is My Year” series, which aims to help us shed the barriers that have held us back in the past, break down those walls and set us up for long-term success.
1) It all starts with a plan.
Sit down, pull out a piece of paper (or a computer) and take a moment to think about your life. Are you doing what you want? Is there something important you’d like to achieve that you’ve been putting off, like losing weight or getting healthy, for example?
Once you figure out exactly what you’re missing, and what you’d like to do, write out some milestones to get there. Be specific, using dates and setting realistic goals — preferably using the SMART goals format. Break up bigger goals into smaller, short-term goals, getting all the way down to what you can do each day to achieve that long-term goal.
2) Analyze what you do each day.
Most of us don’t realize how much time we burn each day doing completely mindless, unnecessary activities that do nothing to help us accomplish our goals. Think about it. How much time do you spend each day scrolling through social media or aimlessly Googling things? How many times each day do you spend sending unnecessary texts or starting an activity and not completing it?
Finding those moments in your day will help you understand just how much time you’re wasting that you could be using to do something more productive. If you’re feeling really ambitious, do your normal routine for a full day, but jot down how much time you spend doing each mindless thing. At the end of the day, add up all that time to see just how many hours of your day you may be wasting.
3) Don’t create problems that don’t exist.
Ah, worry warts — those of us who spend all day thinking something is wrong and over-analyzing every situation to the point of creating an endless, miserable cycle of anxiety. It’s not a place you want to be, and it’s also a huge waste of time. Why worry about something you can’t fix or change? If a problem arises, it will present itself and then you can respond accordingly. Nine times out of 10, worrying about whether something will or won’t turn out one way or another does nothing to actually affect that outcome, so there really is no point. Talk about a pointless time suck.
4) Put up boundaries.
Boundaries are a big part of time management. If you can’t set them with people, you’ll likely find yourself stretched thin, unable to meet your own needs and feeling overwhelmed and tired at the end of the day.
Boundaries extend to everyone and everything in your life, whether it be with families, friends, your job, even yourself. When you’re at work, your family and friends need to know your attention should be focused on that. When you’re at home, your work should know you will be spending time with your family or friends. And when it’s you-time, you need to make it just that — time to focus on yourself.
5) Make the most of your evenings.
How many times have you felt rushed in the morning, trying to eat breakfast while simultaneously throwing together a lunch or finding an outfit to wear? The key to avoiding those mornings is to start the night before.
Pack your lunch in the evening, when you have more time. Choose your clothing and lay it out before you go to bed. Make sure your keys and purse or wallet are always in the same place so you can easily grab them on your way out the door. Simple preparation ahead of time will get rid of that morning-rush feeling — and work wonders in helping you get off the right foot for the day.
6) Amp up your mornings.
It’s not fun to wake up groggy and feeling sludgy when you get out of bed. One way to combat that is to create a morning playlist full of energy-pumping songs. You can even take it a step further by adjusting your morning routine to be in time with each song in the order on your playlist. For example, the first song is your get-up-and-stretch song, the second, third and fourth are for the bathroom, the fifth is for getting dressed, the sixth for eating breakfast and so on.
7) Set hard deadlines throughout the day.
When your job gives you a deadline, chances are you’re going to do everything in your power to meet that deadline. Why not apply that same principal in your personal life?
Give yourself hard deadlines to do everything from simple things like getting out the door in the morning, to going to sleep at night, to finishing a home improvement project and more. Adhere to those deadlines always, and you’ll find that your day becomes much more productive.
8) Rank your priorities.
When you have a lot on your plate, where do you even begin. Write out your to-do list and rank them from highest priority to lowest priority. Then, start with the highest-priority item on the list first and work your way down from the list. Doing it this way does two things: It helps you get the thing you need to get done most actually done, and it gives you a sense of accomplishment that you can carry with you while completing the rest of your tasks. After all, if you can get that important thing done, the rest should be a piece of cake, right?
9) Meal prep ahead of time (or choose a service that does the cooking for you!)
Maybe you enjoy cooking. That’s great. But there’s a good chance you spend a good deal of your day planning meals and cooking them when you could be using that time doing something more productive or something for yourself.
Consider using Sundays to plan and prepare your meals for the entire week so that all you have to do is reheat them in the evening. Or, if cooking isn’t your thing, another option is a meal delivery service like Diet-to-Go. Diet-to-Go provides delicious, healthy foods that are prepared by chefs and delivered contact-free right to your door. Meals in one of our four menus are nutritious and calorie-controlled to help you eat right — and lose weight while you’re at it.*
What time-saving hack can you share that you’ve found helps you make the most of YOUR day? Share in the comment below!
Author: Caitlin H
Diet-to-Go Community Manager
Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.