Time-Saving Tools for Busy Lives
Amazing, isn't it? Every day, you've got 24 hours. Some days, you feel like you've grabbed every hour and lived it to the max. Other days, time seems to slip through your fingers like grains of sand.
Even though time can't be pinned down, modern life often demands that you live within a framework of schedules, timetables and deadlines. It helps to be organized! Being organized doesn't necessarily mean living by a lot of rigid rules. It means making choices—your choices—about what's important to you and then arranging your time and space to focus on those choices.
Take a moment to reflect on the pace of your life. Does it feel like you’re rushing from task to task and worrying about how you’ll get everything done? When you start to feel overwhelmed, it's time to pick up some organizational tools and create the time and space you need to focus on your goals—the things that are important to you.
Here are five great tools to get you started:
- The daily planner
A daily planner keeps your goals, schedule and vital information together in one place. By glancing at your daily planner each evening, you can plan the following day.
Your daily planner could be an app on a smart phone, lap top or tablet, or a printed appointment book—or a combination of these. Whatever you use, choose a planner that is
If you decide to use a combination of paper and electronic planners, allow yourself time to keep them synchronized. For example, take 10 minutes after dinner each night to update the wall calendar or message board at home using the notes you’ve made on your phone.
- both a calendar and a place to record notes, reminders, thoughts, etc.
- small enough to carry with you
- big enough to hold your to-do list, appointments, plans, phone numbers, etc.
It’s also a good idea to review and record your goals in your daily planner at the beginning of each month. This will help you stay in touch with what's most important to you.
- The to-do list
Time management experts say that list-making is one of the most useful tools because it helps you visualize your plans. When you’ve made your list, try to sort the tasks according to how important each one is. You can assign a rank or underline the high priority items on your list. If you manage to get only those things done, you’ll still be making the best use of the time you have.
- The done list
This list is an important motivator because it encourages you to acknowledge what your hard work achieves. At the end of each day, take a moment to write out or just think about your "done" list. Include all of the items on your to-do list that you've completed as well as other important things you did. If you tend to worry, your done list can show you how much you’ve actually accomplished.
- A place for everything
This well-known saying has been around a long time because it works: A place for everything and everything in its place. When you think of all the time spent frantically hunting for your keys or your wallet or the bill that needs to be paid today, it really makes sense to organize your living space. This step comes with a bonus—it creates a calmer environment by reducing clutter.
Practise telling yourself: don't put it down—put it away. This may take some effort at first, but returning things to their designated place can become a habit before you know it, and will save you hours of time in the long run.
- Manage your phone and screen time.
This can be challenging but it can make a big difference in the amount of time available for more important things. Start by keeping track of the time you spend in one week in front of screens texting, social networking or browsing online, watching TV or playing video games—time that’s not directly related to school or work. The number of hours may surprise you. When you think of how much time in a month or even a year you spend watching a screen, you may decide to make some changes.
You can choose to answer phone calls or texts at the time that’s best for you. Turning off your cell or unplugging your landline or home phone is always an option when you don't want to take calls. You could turn off the TV while you're eating dinner. Or you may choose to make some evenings screen-free. You can spend the extra time seeing friends or doing hobbies or maybe taking a course at a local college.
Take some time to find out which time-saving tools are right for you. You can sometimes make very simple changes in your life and discover that you have much more time available. Then, you can effectively use that time to accomplish what's most important to you.
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