Whether it’s the morning rush to get to college/work – or the evening rush to leave it – we’re often so focused on the “getting there” or the “getting out” that we forget about the little things that can make our daily lives easier and our work days more productive. That’s where time management comes in.
Doesn’t waking up in the morning, and running through your mile long to-do list in your head, before your feet have even hit the floor, sound familiar? This starts your day with a feeling of overwhelm and dread in the pit of your stomach, and definitely doesn’t give you the “get up and go” energy boost you need!
It seems that there’s always too much to do, and never enough time to do it in. We all try and cram 30 hours of “stuff” into our 24-hour day, and get confused and frustrated when it just doesn’t fit.
So how do we do it?
How do you plan your day and organize your life in a way that makes you happy and relaxed, without letting everything fall apart around you?
Many people skip this essential planning step in the morning, thinking that they don’t have the time to spare. But really and truly, the 10 minutes of planning and time management can literally make or break your day!
Time Management – Planning Your Day in 10 Minutes
1) Stretch. Don’t give me those death stares. You may think that it has nothing to do with organizing your day, but you are wrong! Taking just 1 minute to stretch your body right when you wake up helps improve circulation, releases endorphins, and allows you to approach your day with a clear head and positive attitude! Remember how relaxed you feel when you go on a little vacation and live the freedom each moment? So, the change isn’t in the day, it’s in the way you approach it. Try to get in that “vacay” state of mind before you dive into your to-do list each morning!
Read about how to stay fit during exams here.
2) Filter Out The “Stuff”. We all have that unwanted “stuff” that is serving no other purpose in our personal organizer aside from using up the paper. Get rid of it! Take a look at your to-do list each morning and highlight those things that are truly important, that will move you forward, and make them the priority. Many times, the things we would usually start with because they feel urgent, actually aren’t, and can easily wait until the important items are off the list!
3) Create Your List The Night Before. Ok, this might be cheating our “10 minutes funda” just a little, but it’s for a good cause! Not only will writing your list the night before remove some work from the morning, but emptying your mind of all the “unfinished” work before bed will actually help you fall asleep faster, and sleep better!
4) Eat That Frog! Mark Twain once said: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Basically, take care of that dreaded item on your list first, and you can go through the rest of your day knowing that the worst is behind you!
5) Consider Downtime. Many times, people lose track of time, and exclude to-do things from their list, for personal reasons. It could be an unexpected family visit, long lunch, or getting sucked into Facebook for an hour (or two!). So, take into account some “you time”, then you will be less likely to let it eat into your “to-do time”.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I had 60 minutes to cut down a tree, I would spend 40 minutes sharpening the axe and 20 minutes cutting it down.” Dale Carnegie told a similar story of two woodcutters. One woodcutter worked hard all day, took no break, and only stopped briefly for lunch. The other chopper took several breaks during the day and a short nap at lunch. At the end of the day, the woodsman who had taken no break was quite disturbed to see that the other chopper had cut more wood than he had. He said, “I don’t understand. Every time I looked around, you were sitting down, yet you cut down more wood than I did.” His companion asked, “Did you also notice that while I was sitting down, I was sharpening my axe?” Such is the importance of time management!
Wise men call planning as ‘sharpening the axe’. You have to spend some time to make more time. Rather than coiling your head at night with disappointment, why not plan your day before it begins?
By starting each morning with a mini-planning session, you frontload important decisions to a time when your mind is fresh. You’ll also notice that having a list of concrete action items (rather than a broad list of goals) is especially valuable later in the day, when fatigue sets in and complex thinking is harder to achieve.
Now, no longer do you have to pause and think through each step. Instead, like a master chef, you can devote your full attention to the execution.
So, the challenge is on, guys. For tomorrow, get out your timer and try it for yourself. The clock is ticking!
Take a look at our article “How you can develop strong time management habits!“ for aiding your new resolution.