Do you ever catch yourself saying “I just don’t have time!” or “I wish I had time for that.” Or maybe you notice that despite your best efforts, something keeps slipping through the cracks. Time is tricky.
Here are some tips and techniques to help you manage your time better.
This is a popular and evidence-based technique to help with focus and procrastination.
Pick a task. Set a timer for 25 minutes and work on the task. When the time is up, take a 5 minute break. Every 3-4 sets, take a longer break!
The idea is to intersperse frequent, short breaks to stave off mental fatigue. The longer breaks are anywhere between 15-30 minutes and can be used to take a walk, call a friend, or eat a meal. Those 25 minute focus sessions become productive and help you break down large tasks into small chunks.
A generalized version of the Pomodoro Technique, this skill can be used in more flexible ways. If you cannot fathom folding laundry for 25 minutes straight, break down the time periods further. Try 10 minutes, or 15 minutes before transitioning to a 5 minute break. This way, you are still progressing on your task/list without burning yourself out. The same evidence applies here- you are focused and productive for a period of time, take a break, and are more likely to return for another set.
When experimenting with time-chunking, start small. Set a timer for 10 minutes and if you find that you have more stamina or the 10 minutes passed quicker than you expected, set it again or add 5 minutes next time. This is adaptable to you!
Eisenhower’s Time Matrix
This is a strategy to prioritize your to-do list. Life’s to-do list is never ending and can feel overwhelming at times. By identifying what tasks are important and urgent you can be sure to prioritize those first. Create a hierarchy for your list using the table below.
|Important||Do these tasks as soon as possible. If they are not done, there is a negative impact/consequence.||These tasks can wait until all urgent and important tasks have been completed.|
|Not Important||Tasks that need to be done, but don’t require your expertise to be completed. Delegate- reach out to your support system!||Delete these tasks from your to-do list if they are unnecessary or time-wasters.|
Use a Planning Tool
There are all kinds of physical and electronic resources to help you manage your schedule, maintain your calendar, or alert you to important obligations. Find one that pleases you aesthetically or works for your circumstances. Some people keep a physical planner, calendar, and daily to-do list while others put everything on their phone calendar to send them reminders.
At the end of the day, your brain could use the break and the extra space that a planning tool of your choice can create. It also lessens the likelihood of forgetting deadlines or bi-annual appointments.
Efficiency is my love language. The next time you catch yourself concerned about how you are spending your time, try out one (or all) of these tips! If you want something to change, you’ll have to try something different so why not put an evidence-based tool to work?
About Jasmine Payne:
Jasmine is a Resident in Counseling and provides services at the Fredericksburg location. She is a two-time graduate of Longwood University, receiving her B.S. in Psychology along with an M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
Throughout her graduate studies, Jasmine worked with teens and adults who belonged to various minority and multicultural populations. She also has familiarity with a wide spectrum of mental health concerns including anxiety/depression, grief, moodiness, self-improvement, motivation, relationship issues, and many more. To learn more about Jasmine, visit HERE.