5 Ways to Take Control of Your Time

Life before Covid was not just busy, but frankly it was too busy - almost to the point where most of the time we were running at a frenetic pace that left us exhausted and stressed.

And now after 5+ months of our “new normal” – a quarantine, safer-at-home orders, school closures, work transitions and many activities canceled or rescheduled we now have a new relationship with our time – one that is not anchored in the busy-ness of a schedule or routine but one that is forcing us to make the most of the pockets of time we do have.

Personally, the lack of routine presents a new challenge for us. And the lack of boundaries between work life, home life and now school life as we help manage virtual school makes it even harder to stay focused, productive and efficient. 

We know some of you can relate to being trapped in this vortex where time feels both extremely sluggish and like it’s slipping through your fingers at the same time.

So how can we all make the most of the 24 precious hours we are given each day?

First of all, we can’t manage time. There are only 24 hours in a day (only 16 to work with if we are getting enough sleep each night) – that will not change. We only have control over what we do with the time we have. 

The key is to choose wisely – and to do this you must be clear about your priorities.

Here are 5 ways to make sure you are both efficient and effective with your time.

1. Know your priorities: Ask yourself – what is most important for me and my family right now? What are my health goals, career goals, family goals and life goals? Simply just having clarity on what matters most will help you make the most of your valuable time. You’ve likely heard the saying, “if everything is important then nothing is.” Truer words have never been spoken and the first step to feeling more in control of your time is to know what matters most.

2. Make a list: There are probably a million in one tools to help you stay organized and to list out all your priorities – everything from bullet journals to color coded planners that help you collate your “to do” list. Whether you want to get fancy with it or you simply just use pen and paper make sure you have dedicated place where you list all your “to do” items. Simply just getting it from your brain to the paper can make all your tasks feel way more manageable.

3. Prioritize: Another famous saying (one I heard A LOT as a child) is, “where there is a will, there’s a way.” There’s a lot of truth in this statement too because we tend to make room for what is important to us and even in extremely stressful times we find a way to handle our most important tasks. With that said we simply cannot do it all and some tasks are better delegated to someone else or forgotten altogether. Here’s a simple process to help you prioritize – the ABCDE system. Grab your “to do” list and place the corresponding letter beside each task.

  • “A” stands for “very important;” something you must do. There can be serious negative consequences if you don’t do it.
  • “B” stands for “important;” something you should do. This is not as important as your ‘A’ tasks. There are only minor negative consequences if it is not completed.
  • “C” stands for things that are “nice to do;” but which are not as important as ‘A’ or ‘B,’ tasks. There are no negative consequences for not completing it.
  • “D” stands for “delegate.” You can assign this task to someone else who can do the job instead of you. 
  • “E” stands for “eliminate, whenever possible.” You should eliminate every single activity you possibly can, to free up your time.

 4. Time block: Instead of working by the clock try to work by task or project. Focus on finishing small and big tasks one at a time by finding blocks of time throughout your day and your week to focus on specific tasks. Try to stay focused on the task at hand for the specified amount of time before switching to other tasks. Block out distractions (hello Do Not Disturb on your phone), and schedule more challenging tasks for times of the day where you feel you are at your best and sharpest. Work smarter instead of harder to limit distractions, get things done faster without feeling so overwhelmed and scattered.

5. Consider your mindset: When you look at time, do you look at it as time spent or time invested?  That may seem like semantics, but it’s not…

When you spend (time/money/resources) ON something your mindset is generally more focused on lack, limitation or waste. When you invest (time/money/resources) IN something your mindset is generally more focused on abundance, growth, or getting/making things better.

So – how are you gaining control of your time? We’d love to hear from you and any tips and tricks you use to stay focused and moving forward.  

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