MH share the best tips to find time for what you love.
WORDS RACHEL KWEK
Feeling overstretched or looking to do more with your time? By taking charge of your time and forming time-saving habits, step bravely into the new year knowing you will have more time for what matters.
1. Take Time Out to Re-think Your Routine
The first step to finding time for what matters to you is to spend time—to assess how you spend your time and how you would like to spend your time. You can start by keeping track of your time-spending habits for a week.
Identify the things that you spend the most and least time on and ask yourself if the time you spend on them is proportionate to the importance you place on them. Identify time wasters and weed them out. More often than not, you will observe patterns. Being aware of these patterns helps you figure out how to get the most out of your time.
Fundamental questions to help you through this process:
What patterns do you observe?
What are your priorities in life?
What would you like to spend more time on?
Are there pockets of time that can be better utilised?
Are there ways to do things in less time?
When are you most efficient?
2. Schedule What Matters First
Yes, it is as simple as it sounds! To make sure you have time for what matters, set aside time for it and be protective of it. If you don’t, the tendency is to neglect it. You could either get too caught up in the day-to-day madness or subconsciously waste time doing things that don’t matter. Of course, it is important to know what your priorities are before you can schedule them, so this is best done after you have done (1). It could involve weighing your needs and wants as well. Think about how much time to allocate for each of your priorities. Be flexible about when you can spend time on them too. For instance, if you cannot afford three hours in one sitting, split it up. Writing your schedule on a calendar also gives you a visual reminder of your plans.
3. Be Realistic About What You Can Accomplish
Are you overambitious when it comes to getting things done? Instead of packing your hours with back-to-back tasks, declutter your schedule and give yourself a break. Instead of allowing how much you want to do determine the amount of time you spend on them, do the reverse. Set a period for your tasks and work out how many tasks you can reasonably fit into it. Then, stick to it. You need to be strategic in selecting what goes into your daily to-do list. Take into account the amount of time you would likely need for each task and their relative urgency and you will get things done without burning yourself out.
4. Share Your Responsibilities
One easy way to have more time is to ask others for help. Discuss with your family how you can share the housework and childcare duties. If it is convenient for someone to run an errand for you, you won’t have to make a trip just to get it done. If your children are old enough, why not entrust them with a few more responsibilities like packing their play corners and getting their school necessities ready? Your friends and colleagues may be more willing than you thought to help you out with some of your duties. There’s no harm asking right? Because you can’t say no to everything, this is a more effective tip that should be in this list.
5. Maximise Your Productive Hours
If you haven’t discovered when your productivity is at highest, do so already! Some people find their energy levels highest and themselves most alert in the morning while some work best at night. Regardless of your inclination, plan to do the most mentally demanding tasks during that period and do those that are not when you are less alert. It is also important that you minimise distractions during your most productive hours because once you get sidetracked, it can be hard to pick up the momentum again.
6. Take Charge of Your After-work Hours
The time after work is completely yours. No matter how hectic your work may be, you need to realise that you have control over how you want to spend the time after you officially knock off. It’s a significant amount of time – about two-thirds of a day! Consciously use it to do the things that are important to you, whether it is to spend more time with your children, catch up with friends or get fitter. How does a date with your husband followed by indulging in some shopping sound?
7. Stay Organised
Being organised is a time-tested holy grail that will make you the best time manager. No rocket science, it is all about creating systems and following them. There are many ways and what works for some may not work for others, but here are some ideas you can try:
Store your things neatly so you don’t have to search the whole house to locate an item.
Make a to-do list at the start of the day so you don’t have to waste time recalling what needs to be done. Consolidate tasks and do them at designated times. For instance, replying to emails at a certain time instead of as and when they come in may help you focus on the task at hand.
Handle things at once. Spending ten minutes daily to keep your workspace or home tidy will spare you the headache of doing it when it gets too messy.
The last two are quite tricky and whether it works depends on individual preferences and the type of tasks.
8. Use Technology
Technology has enabled us to make more efficient use of time in many ways. Mobile devices like phones and tablets allow us to get many things done while on the move, including listening to music, reading the latest news and drafting a document. And they are getting better. For instance, the Peek and Pop feature in Apple’s iPhone helps you do things on your phone faster by allowing you to preview content in your email, websites, chats and more without having to open them. Other smart appliances and gadgets also save us time. Imagine how much time you have to spend doing household chores without the invention of the washing machine and robotic vacuum cleaners. A slew of time-saving apps like SG Bus Leh has also given us extra minutes.
9. Boost Your Energy Levels
Eating and resting well gives you the energy to do more. Aim for at least seven hours of sleep a day and eat foods rich in B vitamins such as vegetables, whole grains and fish. A little exercise goes a long way too. Do simple stretches at your at your desk and take a ten-minute walk to the supermarket instead of taking a bus. You may be surprised how reinvigorated you feel after that! If all else fails, supplements containing B vitamins help maintain energy levels by converting your food into fuel. If you spend less time feeling tired, you have more time to do what matters to you.
10. Don’t Just Wait
Did it occur to you how much time we spend just waiting? We wait for the bus, for our turn to see the doctor, for our children’s swimming class to end and so on. If you spend an hour a day on your commute to work, and you do nothing but wait to get to the office, you’ll waste 365 hours in a year! Identify the “wait times” in your day you can capitalise on and schedule something that needs to be done during those times. You’ll notice you suddenly seem to get more things done!