How to Find More Time and Reclaim Your Life
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” Michael Altshuler
I have a confession. I organize my life with 3 different color-coded calendars. Yes...three. One for meal plans, one for school deadlines, and one for personal commitments and daily “to do'' lists. Many consider this to be a bit much. But it works for me in the phase of life I’m in now. It helps me to compartmentalize. Don’t be tempted to think my life is perfectly organized and always goes according to plan. It doesn’t. For those of you who feel frantic, distracted or intense on occasion. . . I’ve been there. Keep reading for suggestions on how to better manage time.
When Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan
You’re not alone in having plans go awry. It happens to the best of us. On Saturday, my day started off according to plan. I successfully completed my first task. Then everything that could go wrong, did. My “plan” went out the window and flew far far away. I had some issues arise, and while I wouldn’t consider them an “emergency” they did take up a good chunk of time and energy, and left me feeling wiped out. It lasted only a few hours, but it completely threw off my plan for the day.
Has something similar ever happened to you? Life tends to throw us curve balls. It seems that fairly often, something unexpected comes up, and our plans then make way to focus on the new crisis instead. However, it’s still worthwhile to start with a plan.
Start With A Plan
Having a plan is crucial in order to manage our time. We get to tell ourselves what we’ll do with the time given us. Even when our plans don’t go as planned, they still help us to be efficient with our time and stay focused on those tasks of highest priority. They help to ensure a balance between all facets of our lives. Often, our plans are able to be put into motion with very few complications. Even if we don’t fulfill the plan in its entirety, it still gives us a starting point. With a plan, we are able to accomplish much more than we otherwise could.
With many responsibilities to juggle, it can be hard to balance life activities. You’ve likely heard the excuse, “If only I had more time, then I could finish it all.” Perhaps you’ve said or thought it yourself. I know I have. Then I learned the following lesson. By planning your time, it may feel as if you have more time to spend on activities important to you. On the flip side, when time is wasted, it can feel like time is being depleted faster than ever. While school and work are important, having time to spend with family and friends or to decompress is also important. Having a plan in place gives us the control and keeps us responsible.
Tools and Resources for Managing Time
Have you ever sat down and filled out a weekly or even daily schedule of both fixed and flexible commitments? This is a good first step. For those who prefer paper planners or calendars, try using certain colors for each category to keep your planner consistent.
Doing so helps many to visualize their assignments, activities and free time.
For some, having a digital planner or calendar helps with accessibility and reminders. Google calendar is a great way to plan your time. Canvas is another amazing option. Just as you can choose what colors to use for a paper copy, you can likewise customize the colors shown on digital planners. There are even phone apps to help! Here are some useful phone applications you might consider trying.
- Remember The Milk
- Google Tasks
From making lists to dividing tasks into sections by priority (ex: “Do first”, “Do next” and so on..) or keeping a calendar, there are many techniques to plan our time. Whether they are digital resources or hard copies, do what works for you and keep in mind that these preferences may change as your responsibilities shift. Whatever you choose, you’ll be able to edit, track, and cross off tasks easily.
Time As Our Greatest Resource
We all have the same amount of time allotted to us. Every minute and hour, each day, week and month- we have in common with everyone else. Have you ever met someone who seems to accomplish SO much in a day? What are they doing that you could start doing? You can even ask them what their trick is. They have the same time given to them that you have. The difference is in how we use it. What will you accomplish with the 525,600 minutes given you each year? (Did I just get that song stuck in your head? You’re welcome ;)
Check back next week for stress management tips. As always, we are eager to connect with you. I'd be happy to meet with you and help you manage your time. You can sign up for a coaching appointment here. Or you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The Author
Rachel is a senior pursuing her degree in communication here at Weber State University.
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