There are so many ideas and projects that we dream about doing. Some may be more immediate plans, such as launching a project at work, while others are more long-term, like writing a book. In so many cases, there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day. The demands on our time, which include work and our personal responsibilities, are so many. It can often feel overwhelming, yet some people can do so much with the amount of time they have.
If we all have the same amount of time available in the day, then the only way to be more efficient is to make better use of the hours we do have. Efficiency will come from focusing on the work that will best give us the results we are seeking and from organizing your time as best as possible. This is not an exhaustive list of strategies for how to best organize your time, but they can help you start improving the impact of the time you have available.
Strategies for Organizing Your Time
1. Blocks of Time
Divide your schedule into blocks of time based on the activities you need to do. How you break down your day depends on you and the amount/type of work you want to do. You might decide to divide your day into equal parts, for instance. You could have a few large spaces of time or many smaller ones. Once you have those periods assessed, you can choose what activity fits into the different spaces in your day. Feel free to experiment: sometimes it takes time to figure out what activity works best in what part of the day.
One tip is to do what is most important in the long-term or requires your most creative energy during your most productive time of the day. For instance, for me, my most productive time is the morning when my mind is fresh and ready for the day. Because I am writing my first book and am not in the habit of this practice, the first thing I do in the morning is to write. I know that that time in the day is reserved for writing, and I don’t allow myself to do anything else until I have completed my quota. Additionally, the pressure from the rest of the day forces me to complete my work.
There are many benefits to setting up your schedule in blocks of time. First, since you know what you are going to work on and when, your schedule is predictable, you can easily envision your day at any time. This scheduling strategy also saves time because you won’t have to establish a schedule every day.
You can also plan more easily because you’ll have a routine and know what times work best for what. You can even create spaces to deal with unpredictable events. Furthermore, when you have proven to yourself that the schedule you have set up works, you will have the confidence that you will complete the tasks that you have established for yourself in the groups of time you have planned. Finally, a daily routine will help you easily see if your schedule is full or if there is extra room for new projects.
2. Add a Little Bit Every Day
Showing up is half the battle. If you are working on a long-term project, the goal is to work on it and add a little more to it each day.
To figure out how much to work on, divide your project into smaller blocks and work on one part each day. Over time, the work’s progress will accumulate. For instance, if you are writing a book, you can set a goal of how many words you would like to write per week and per day.
Even if your daily quota is not very high, you will notice that the results over time start to add up. You just set aside a little bit of time to work consistently on something until it is done.
I have found that once I have started working on a long-term project that at first seemed daunting, I eventually begin to exceed my daily or weekly goals. My work gets better because I gain practice and confidence as I move forward. I am therefore able to improve my results with time.
3. Take Advantage of Every Moment
Take advantage of small bits of free time and make good use of the time you have. Suppose you have fifteen minutes before a meeting. Those fifteen minutes will probably not be enough to dive into a project, but they may be enough to respond to the emails you have pending. This way, you will have ticked off an item on your to-do list, and it’s one less task you have to do later.
Resting is crucial. You can’t work straight through a full day without rest; your body will make you pay for it. You will only be as productive as you can be if you get a full night’s sleep and leave time for the things you love to do in your personal life. Also, taking small breaks during the day will boost your energy to do what you need to do at work.
You will work smarter because your mind will be clearer. You will also be able to make better decisions about the tasks you spend your time on. Schedule in time for periods of rest; otherwise, with today’s demands on our schedules, project completion is not going to happen.
5. Get an Early Start
Finally, I recommend getting an early start to your day, if you can. After a good night’s sleep, we tend to have more energy in the morning. Also, when it’s quieter, and no one else can interrupt, there is a sense of peace that is conducive to being much more productive. Not only will you get start your day earlier, but you will also be able to work more easily on the tasks that require more mental power. Then, the hours where you need to communicate or handle tasks that don’t require as much brainpower will be aligned with the hours when the rest of the team is working fully, and the interruptions won’t affect you as much.