Ask any working professional what they could use more of, and you’ll probably keep getting the same answer. Time. In the frantic pace of the digital age, time is something everyone seems to be short on. It’s almost laughable that we once thought technology would help create more leisure time! If we could figure out how to make the most of our waking moments, we could be far more productive and happy.
Success at work and in life often comes down to one thing: developing better time management skills. Our minutes have become hot since time is so scarce these days, and we toss them away without a second thought. The truth is, we are always going to have obligations, deadlines, and responsibilities, but if we learn how to handle our hot minutes, we can work with the clock instead of against it.
Here, excerpted from “Wait a Hot Minute: How to Manage Your Life with the Minutes You Have,” are 10 of my no-fail tips to help you make the most of your time (no matter how little you have) and achieve a healthier and happier work-life balance.
- Prioritize sleep so you can function when you’re awake. Schedule sleep like any other daily activity on your to-do list. Pencil in a stopping point in your day and stick to it without fail.
- Don’t stay on your e-mail all day. Designate a few times in your workday to check e-mail so you remain in control of your schedule and are not reacting to new messages as they appear.
- Choose human connection over technology. E-mails and texts create room for confusion and miscommunication. Whenever possible, talk in person to get your message across clearly.
- Learn to say no and mean it. It’s okay to turn down invitations, cancel plans, or disconnect from the outside world every now and then.
- Set achievable goals each day. We’re not superheroes and shouldn’t try to be. Make your daily goals small enough that you can actually get them done.
- Give multitasking the ax. People work best when they give focused attention to the task at hand. So work on only one project at a time and forget about other priorities until you are done.
- Don’t be a sheep. There are times when it’s advisable to stop following the herd and innovate in the name of productivity. If you can envision a way to work smarter and better, you may just create new best practices for your place of work that will save time and increase quality.
- Step away from the Internet. Shut off access to the Internet at a certain time each day. And take breaks from recreational Internet use—try a month—to focus on other aspects of your life.
- Practice breathing and mindfulness. Breathing is a tool for achieving a relaxed, clear state of mind. Each day, practice tai chi, meditation, or yoga, or try simple breathing exercises.
- Stop owning other people’s stuff. How often do you hear yourself saying, “Never mind, I’ll do it myself”? Probably more often than you’d like. Hold others accountable for their responsibilities. This includes your children, your spouse and your colleagues.
You have two choices when trying to manage your time. You can either let your priorities and obligations run your life, or you can take charge of your minutes and let them work for you. While you won’t ever succeed long-term by racing the clock, you can drop your bad habits, improve ineffective practices and kick stress to the curb so that your whole life improves.
Jackie Gaines, MS, RN is a high performing Senior Executive, National Speaker and Best-Selling Author with a progressive career encompassing more than 38 years of sustained leadership and accomplishments with major health systems and organizations.