Photo courtesy of M Francis McCarthy
I’m all about time management. I’ve discovered that pacing myself works very effectively and allows me to accomplish a steady amount of tasks on a regular basis without stressing my mind or my body too much. I keep a list of actions that I need to fulfill each day of the week and I cross each item off when completed. Since I work from home, my To-Do list pops right up onto the corner of my laptop to remind me what needs to happen every day/week/month in order to meet my financial and life goals (feed the children, try not to live in squalor, etc). So, yes, my daily list even includes things like “Buy milk” and ”Do 1 load of laundry.” Breaking things down like this helps me to get more done over the course of the week, both professionally and personally.
I didn’t always work my life like this, however, and neither do most other working adults these days. Many of us have spent years attacking each day haphazardly, with few or no specific goals in mind, only to reach 5:00pm to realize that we did everything but the important stuff. Getting off-task is all too easy on any given day of the week, causing us to feel overwhelmed by all of the things we weren’t able to accomplish. Most people bite off more than they can chew regularly by overestimating the amount of time they have available during the week. Although you can’t expect the unexpected, you should leave time for it just in case it happens.
Start by making a list of everything you would like to conceivably get done by the end of the current week. Include all tasks that must be completed in order to retain your employment, and necessary life-sustaining errands like grocery shopping. List actions that will boost your professional life, and things that you need to get done in your private life in order to keep things flowing harmoniously. Divide your list of actions into daily groupings in order from what needs to be accomplished first, to what can wait until the end of the week. You can make your workload lighter if you:
- Delegate one item on your weekly list to someone who has the time, ability, and willingness.
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed this week, attempt to reschedule one action for later in the month when you’re less busy.
- Try combining two similar tasks into one or do two tasks at once wherever possible.
- Move one thing to your “Someday” list or delete it all together if it’s just not that important.
What you’re left with should be a very do-able action list for your week, divided nicely into daily task goals. Remember that there will be days where something unexpected pops up and an item on your list doesn’t get completed. In that case, simply highlight it and move it to another day during the week where it might feasibly get accomplished. Pace yourself, people. Life isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon.