This post won’t tell you how to find time to do something. It will help you make time for everything you want to do. Because let’s face it – when we have to do something, it takes us exactly as much time as we have, not a minute more, not a minute less.
Bottom line – there is enough time for everything. Often our problem is we want to do everything here and now. How can we escape the vicious circle “I am in a hurry, I don’t have enough time?” The key is to learn how to make time for all things we want to do. 😉
Make a plan and stick to it
I know I repeat this way too often but it really is that important! Write down your to-do list – 1st to-do, 2nd to-do, 3rd to-do, and so on. Start from the top. Complete one task at a time. I promise you sooner or later all to-dos will be crossed off that list.
The key is to consistently and continuously work on a single task at a time.
Don’t distract yourself with unrelated activities like Facebook or email and you’ll ensure crossing off your tasks on time.
It’s super important to decide what to put on the top of your to-do list. Decide which tasks are more important than others and what should be done when.
No, they are not all urgent. And no, they should not all be done today. Think about your pending tasks and arrange them in your to-do list according to their priority.
Create rituals to set the right tone
No special clothing is required 😉 Rituals help you focus.
For example, I check my email while I have my morning coffee. I look through my daily tasks and rearrange them as needed if something urgent has come during my night time. But this is specifically for me – because most of my clients are overseas and we have relatively big time difference.
Find your rituals that help you focus. They may or may not be work-related – the purpose of the rituals is to set the right tone for your work day. Read through these 6 tips to better time management, if needed.
Make small steps every day
If you are one of those people who always want to do everything here and now, listen up. It is a mission impossible. Don’t even think about it! If you put yourself in such situation, chances are you will end up stressed out, disappointed of yourself and terrified with your never ending to-do list.
When you break up your tasks and make small steps, end of the day you turn off your computer and close your to-do list with a smile on your face. You feel empowered that today you did what you wanted to do. You even expect the next day with excitement – because you know tomorrow you will achieve another small victory over your to-do list, just like you did today. 😀
Be realistic and forget the guilt trips
Going after those small victories on daily basis shouldn’t mislead you though – be realistic when setting your daily goals and planning your to-dos for the day.
Set the goals too low and you risk being stuck at the point where you do the bare minimum and feel good with your mediocre work. Set the goals too high and you risk chasing your tail all day long without any real progress.
If you try to do months-worth work in a single day, you won’t cross any to-dos off your list; you won’t feel satisfied in the end of the day; and you won’t have acquired any new skills. You will be trapped by your own ambition and unrealistic self-assessment.
Avoid any guilt trips when turning off your computer in the afternoon with 10 more pending to-dos. It’s ok – you can do them tomorrow, or the day after that, or the day after that.
There will always be more work to be done that you can complete today.
The sooner you realize and accept this, the better you’d feel and the more work you’ll do in a single day, every day. Which leads me again to my first point…
Making a plan and sticking to it is the first step to make time for everything in your day!
It is always easier to complete tasks if you have a numbered list of to-dos on your desk. It is especially true when these tasks are work-related. But don’t take my word for it – experiment until you find what works best for you.
For example, numbering used to work for me superbly well – but now, I don’t care much about simple to-do lists. I cannot live without my Google calendar. I have found that adding to my calendar fun activities like a walk in the park or bike trip to the nearby village helps me stay on track with my work tasks as well.
Find what works for you – and tweak it when necessary to make it better.
Jeri Walker-Bickett (@JeriWB) says
I’ve been getting so much better about sitting down Sunday evening and making a list for the week. Prioritizing can be the pits at times, but I think I finally have the hang of it. I have Susan Cooper to thank for that 🙂
Right, sitting down on Sunday and planning the next week is a great tip, Jeri – tanks for adding it. If you want stay away from the computer during the weekend (at least for work), i dare you – plan the next week on Friday afternoon 😉
Jeannette Paladino says
I use my online calendar to schedule my To-Do list. I look at today’s list and will move tasks to another day if know there is no realistic way to do everything. I also will schedule To-Do’s in advance. Obviously, things pop up that can mess up your schedule but you’ve got to have the schedule first!
i hear you, Jeannette – i do the same. I even have some recurring events on my calendar – good that i have them or i would forget about them otherwise… Thank for stopping by!
Lorraine Marie Reguly says
I have a master list of things to do and a minor list of things to do. Each week I work on both. It helps to be organized, too. 😉
What, what? master list and minor list? This sounds confusing… Can you please elaborate, Lorraine?
Either i misunderstood you, or your brain works totally differently than mine and you will add a tip to the conversation that i would have never ever thought of 😀
Lorraine Marie Reguly says
Yes, in reading about productivity a few months ago, it was suggested that a master list and a minor list of tasks be created. A master list includes all the big things/goals that take time to complete (like months or years) and a minor list includes tasks that take a shorter time to execute.
For example, on my master list, you will find things like “write an ebook” or “publish previously written poetry book.” The latter involves minor list tasks, like sending a query letter to a publisher (assuming I am not going to self-publish it).
Minor list tasks include things like “organize picture files on the computer” or “write a blog post on ____.”
ah, i see – yes, i understand what you mean. I agree setting goals is important but it is news to me that your list of goals can be referred to as “master to-do list” – glad you find this tactic useful, Lorraine – thanks for sharing it 😀
Lorraine Marie Reguly says
Diana, one of my goals is “publish my memoirs” so you can see that this would belong on a master To Do list since this encompasses so many different, smaller things (that belong on my minor To Do list) like writing it (chapter by chapter), editing it, formatting it, getting a graphic design for the cover, etcetera!
Debra Yearwood says
Excellent advice, some I need to take. I know from experience if I set a schedule, break things down into their constituent parts and implement, I will get things done. I can’t imagine why I allow myself to get sidetracked. You have the perfect attitude. You can make time, you just have to have discipline. This post was an excellent reminder.
Thanks for the positive feedback, Debra – i am glad i could help you stay in track 😉 Breaking down things to smaller parts really does help – i have found that i tend to get overwhelmed if i think solely about the big picture, But when i put the big picture into perspective and visualize the small steps that will lead me to that big goal – i just get things done without obsessing too much about deadlines, amount of work needed to achieve a goal, and all 😀