Never Enough Hours in the Day
Getting Creative with Time
If you’re like me and every other busy person in the world, there are never enough hours in the day. It always seems like another three or four hours would help. But seeing as that’s not possible, it’s up to you to get honest with how you spend your time.
To-Do Lists…Ineffectual at Best?
This is a HUGE challenge for me. I have a seemingly insurmountable list of things I need to get done every day. Some things always seem to fall off the list. To-do lists don’t really work for me, at least not on a daily basis. I’ve heard lately from time management experts that to-do lists are ineffectual. Great. Well, at least I seem to be on track with that one. A more effective approach, according to experts, is time-blocking. I’ve been trying this one out with a bit more success. The idea is to focus on three major things you want to accomplish in the day. Then block them into your schedule in 30-45 minute time blocks. Allow yourself a 10-20 minute break in between each block to relax, refresh, clear your head, etc. For example, you know one task will take you an hour and a half. You can schedule a shorter break after each half hour. Or maybe you’d prefer a slightly longer break after 45 minutes of work.
I was thinking maybe a combination of to-do lists and time-blocking. In my own sense of logic, a to-do list helps me keep track of the things that need to get done and helps me to not forget anything. I am going to try creating a weekly to-do list instead of a daily one. Then, out of the dozen or more things I need to get done that week, I can pick three to do with the daily time-blocking method. By the end of the week, I should have knocked out most, if not all of my to-do list.
There are a few time hacking tips that have come in quite handy and have allowed me to become a bit more productive throughout the day. One of those things is to refrain from checking my personal email until later in the evening. That alone saves me from taking the time during the work day to answer each one as they come in, thus interrupting my work flow. It seems like a no-brainer, but people check their personal email at work all the time. Work email is a different story as those need to be answered in a timely manner, especially ones from my supervisor or managers. So I try to limit those to four times a day.
Also, the simplest (and hardest, depending on your point of view) and most effective time hack is cutting off social media while you’re focusing on a task. Turn off notifications until you’re done. Or better yet, leave your phone in another room, away from your wandering eyes. This will alleviate the temptation of wanting to pick up your phone every ten minutes as you would if it were within arm’s reach. For some of you, this might be the answer to the never enough hours problem.
Learn to Delegate
Delegating is another valuable time hack. I think it’s safe to assume that we all feel that there are never enough hours. But consider this…you don’t have to do it all yourself! Being a newbie supervisor, this was a new concept for me. It was uncomfortable for me to hand work over to my staff instead of just doing it myself. If you’re self-employed, you could also try delegating some tasks if you have a supportive family. If you have kids, simple house chores can (and should) be part of their routine anyway, saving you from having to spend hours cleaning the house yourself. Rather than taking time from drawing or creating, ask your spouse, significant other, or responsible kids with driver’s licenses to drop artwork off at the printers for you or take a run to the art store for more supplies.
You might also utilize hired help. Do you have a babysitter or a housekeeper? That right there is a huge start at taking those chores off of your plate. Do they know of anyone you can hire to do your grocery shopping for you, or run your clothes to the dry cleaners for you? What about someone to do your cooking or meal prep for you? It is possible to find a personal assistant for $15-25 per hour. If that’s too pricey for you, maybe you could do your own meal prep for a week’s worth of food on the weekend when you have more time, pack, and freeze them. They’ll be ready to go throughout the week. I’ve been doing this for about six years now and a few hours invested on the weekend saves me tons of time on a daily basis.
Stop Putting Off the Unsavory Tasks
Another hack in getting things done and off the non-productive to-do list, is to do the most undesirable things straight away. The things you procrastinate on often give you that sense of dread and yuckiness for the task itself. If you keep telling yourself that you’ll do it later, you carry that sense of dread all day long because you know in the back of your mind that you still have to face it. This one is a challenge for me, too. But it makes sense. Knock that yucky task off your list immediately and free up the rest of your day for productivity with a clearer head. There are never enough hours, so why make the ones you do have a time of dread?
Make Meditation a Daily Practice
I don’t know if this last one is considered a true time hack, but it also happens to be one of the hardest for me to adhere to on a daily basis. Meditation. Yes, the M word. It’s one that can’t be ignored anymore. Experts (which include science types and doctors) have confirmed the profound results that meditation can have on both mind and body. Meditation has been proven to produce a clearer mind and reduce stress. The problem is, if I say that I’m going to do this one before bed, it generally gets to be way too late in the evening. If I say I’m going to do it in the morning before work, I inevitably hit snooze too many times. Never enough hours is hardly an excuse for this one. I’m still working on it. I already know and treasure the peace and calm that meditation brings me (when I do it). So, I’m determined to find a time slot that will end up being non-negotiable. Even ten minutes helps!
The time for resolutions is just around the corner and getting a better grip of time management is a big one for me. If I can’t manage to do what’s already on my plate, how will I ever get to all the other art lessons, curiosities, and projects I have in mind?
Do you have a favorite time-hack that’s worked wonders for you? If so, please share in the comments below.