How to effectively manage your time - Helping Hand - Mental Health Programme

How to effectively manage your time

For many of us, a day is only 24 hours long. The to-do list seems endless, and the pressure keeps building up. How can we effectively manage our time and energy? Below are a few tips that can help you with this challenge.

Prepare a “to-do” list:

Treat tasks as goals you want to achieve. Plan them strategically. Think about when they should be completed and add them to your calendar. Break down major goals into smaller tasks. This approach will make your plan clear and transparent, making it easier for you to assign tasks to different individuals.

Set priorities:

Examine your “to-do” list. Determine how many tasks are related to you and your affairs, and how many are requests from your friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. The Eisenhower Matrix, also known as the Priority Matrix, can help you with this. It is one of the most effective methods for planning your time.

Among the list, select tasks that are important and urgent as top priorities. Then, prioritize important but not urgent tasks, followed by urgent but less important tasks.

  • Important and urgent tasks are things you should address immediately, as they may have serious consequences. Examples include crisis situations or dealing with the consequences of previous neglect, such as a call from the Tax Office.
  • Important but not urgent tasks should be strategically planned. They are important to you, but you can tick them off by taking small steps. For instance, preparations for a project that will start next year.
  • Not important but urgent tasks should be done next or delegated to someone else. Since they are not important to you, you may lack internal motivation and often let them slide. However, they require quick completion, so they shouldn’t wait.
  • Not important and not urgent tasks – why bother doing them? Consider how many tasks on your list fall into this category. Ask yourself why they ended up here. They are time and energy eaters.

Break down each major goal into smaller ones. This will reinforce your internal motivation. You will feel better knowing how – by taking smaller actions – you can achieve the larger goal.

For example, if your main goal is to run a marathon in the fall, start by:

  • Checking the exact date of the marathon.
  • Finding a coach or resuming individual training after a break.
  • Preparing running shoes and attire.
  • Creating a training plan.

Check off and celebrate:

Nothing helps maintain internal motivation like the feeling of being effective and successful in our endeavors. Therefore, cross out the tasks assigned to specific days/weeks after completing them. Tasks will decrease, and you will feel accomplished. Don’t forget to celebrate small successes. Appreciate what you do, how much energy and commitment you put into it. Feel satisfaction from the activities you undertake. This way, you’ll take care of your physical and mental well-being.

Examine activities that consume your time:

Make a list of all your daily activities. Write them down on paper. Examine and divide them into two groups:

  • Activities that give you energy, allow you to relax, and bring you pleasure.
  • Activities that drain your energy, weaken you, and make you feel discouraged.

Which group has more activities? Can you eliminate or reduce activities that don’t serve you? Perhaps it’s worth sharing responsibilities with others if you find that you have too much on your plate.

Also, pay attention to how much time you spend on your phone, browsing social media?

I encourage you to be mindful of yourself and make conscious, small changes every day.

Author: Marta Drinčić, psychologist, crisis interventionist.

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