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How to ACTUALLY Manage Your Time in the Modern Day

Amy Chan

Posted on July 29 2014

These days, we find ourselves distracted more often than concentrating attentively on the task at hand.  Whether it’s text messages and Words with Friends notifications on our smart phones, or flashing signs and ads all around us at all times, we are living in a generation where time seems to fleet faster than that first beer at 5pm.  I can’t tell you how often a friend laments that they had intended to do something, but the time just slipped away.  I’m sure you have felt the very same thing, too; we all have.

But time – though based on a scientifically determined set of facts, like the Earth revolving around the Sun once every 365.25 days – is surprisingly subjective.  A 2 1/2 hour movie that keeps you at the end of your seat goes faster than, say, an 80 minute Adam Sandler flick.  Our kids turn 21 in a blink of an eye, whereas a 30 minute work-place lecture on sexual harassment lasts forty-two years.  Doing something fun will take less time than doing something not fun.  It’s an age old fact, and one that isn’t going anywhere.

So how can you actually manage your time in a way to get everything you need to get done actually accomplished?  How can you end each day and think, well there you go, I finished everything and I had a great productive day!

It’s not easy, but if you employ these tips, you can – in time – learn to manage your time effectively.

1. For one week – carry a schedule and meticulously record your thoughts and activities, the amount of time you spend on each activity.  By the end, you will have a log of things you invested time on.  Look at how much time was engaged in meaningful conversation, in fruitless shallow conversation, and of course, wasting time on your gadgets and the internet.

2. Forget to-do lists – you’ll waste too much time even trying to digest it and to go over it again and again.  Instead, actually schedule the time to accomplish each item on the to-do list.  Put it on an appointment calendar and keep that appointment with yourself.

3. When scheduling your time, allow for interruptions.   You’re managing time, not having an unrealistic relationship with it.  We all get interrupted – the trick is to allow time for it, and then to not let it get out of hand.  For example: never click on links your friends post to FB with those teaser lines like “you’ll never believe what happened next.

4. Actually take time to plan your day, instead of just diving in.  A few minutes – 15-20, say, at the beginning will be more than made up for by having a productive 23:40.

5. Before engaging in a call or meeting, write down your desired goal.  This will allow the meeting and engagement to be at its maximum effectiveness.  Be willing to end a call or conversation before the 20 minutes of meaningless small talk.  “I’ve got to run, great talking to you” works every time.

6. Let phones go to voicemail, and let emails go unanswered immediately.  You are in charge – the sender or caller doesn’t know you’re right there at that time, you can get back to them, it’s not the end of the world.

7. Stay positive; if you get 80% accomplished, that’s way better than 50%.

8. Stop using Instant Messaging – most of the time things don’t have to be handled “instantly”, or it’s just an old friend wanting to chat.  Go online only when your activity is actually going online to chat.  Chatting and Facebook are easily the most worm-hole-like wastes of time.

All of these methods will take time to adjust to, but with determination, you will see that your time is much more effectively spent and you’ll be more productive, and happier, at the end of the day.