Time Management Tips for the Working Soul
The 21st century is a golden era in history; modern technology has made everything in the world faster, simpler, and stronger than ever before. Everything you could ever want to know or have is attainable at the touch of a finger, wherever and whenever you want it. As exciting as that is, it is also a large factor in why our lives can often feel so jumbled. We are overloaded with an influx of information at every waking moment: text messages, emails, phone calls, social media, online shopping, etc. We are drowning in a sea of endless things and calming the tide can be a grueling endeavor. The result is an increase in anxiety, impairment in functioning, and/or a sense of anguish associated with managing everyday life.
Below are four empirical tips on how to better manage your time in the fast pace of the modern world:
1. Minimize your decisions.
Believe it or not, the biggest time-waster in all of our lives is ourselves. Deciding over trivial matters such as what to wear to work or what to eat for lunch can both exhaust the mind--impairing our ability to make further decisions--and take up the time we should have spent writing that report, or making a more important decision! By limiting the choices we actually have to make throughout the day, we liberate our brains to focus on the decisions that actually require our urgent attention.
2. Make a schedule.
You’ve heard it before, but that’s because it’s crucial! It’s a difficult habit to build, but planning out your day only takes 10-15 minutes the night before, and will paint a much clearer picture of what tasks need to be done throughout your day. If you don’t take the time to decide what needs to be done, nothing will get done, and you’ll find yourself forgetting about important deadlines or meetings.
3. Wear a watch.
Our phones are like a third arm, there’s no denying that. The ship has sailed where I would ask you not to carry your phone on you. But, taking your phone out during work hours, even if it’s just to check the time, will usually lead to unproductive distractions (i.e. if you notice you have a text, you’ll most likely take the time to respond to it). Avoid these distractions by teaching your brain to instead check your watch whenever you get curious about the time of day.
4. Take breaks.
This may be the most important tip of all. The clock may always be ticking, but you’re not always on it. Give your mind the much-needed rest it deserves. Meditate, stretch, take a nap, or watch your favorite show—anything you feel will help to remove yourself from the stress and feel good in the present moment. Rest and relaxation will ultimately make you more productive when it is time to get back to work.
And that’s it! These tips have helped me tremendously in the pursuit of both my educational and professional goals. I hope they can help you too.
Claessens, B.J.C.; van Eerde, W.; Rutte, C.G.; Roe, R.A. (2007). “A review of the time management literature”. Personnel Review, Vol. 36 Issue: 2, p. 255-276.