Life can be hectic trying to balance the pulls of all avenues of our lives. Trying to fit all our responsibilities into a day is a challenge at the best of times. Couple that with raising a child, pursuing your passions/hobbies, working out, trying to have some kind of social life and chilling/downtime – it sometimes feels impossible to get everything done well. Successful time management is the key to fixing this!
Many of you might be at the “something’s got to give” point. More often than not it’ll be your passions/hobbies and working out that takes the back seat! I’m here to tell you that those things are so important and shouldn’t be discounted.
Exercise is a massive stress reliever, it releases endorphins that act as a natural pain-killer and mood elevator. Removing this would be harmful to your mental health and overall wellbeing!
Your passions and hobbies are the things that help to keep you going. These are the things that help make going to work bearable. Unless of course, you’re that person that does their hobby or passion for a job…
In which case, you’re my hero! But for the rest of us, sacrificing our passions that could later lead you to a professional pursuit would be unwise.
Rather than throwing in the towel and stressing over lack of time, let’s identify how we can live our best lives now and fit it all in!
Time management truth!
There’s no easy way out of this. It’ll definitely take some work and getting used to. You’ll be required to maximise the time you have throughout the day and be as efficient as possible. This can be quite the struggle for some.
If this is something you struggle with, don’t just skip it, try your hardest to work through it.
Follow the upcoming steps slowly and you will get there eventually. Even if you don’t manage all of them – employing a few will take you well on the way to successful time management.
5 simple steps
1. Broken down to-do-lists
A standard to-do-list.
Often, we start to feel overwhelmed by the amount we have to do. Holding it all in our heads will just make things worse!
It may well seem as though your list is infinite but believe me – it’s better on the list than in your head potentially interrupting your sleep.
Every time anything new comes up, add it to your list so you don’t forget and have it come back to bite you later.
A to-do-list is similar to a goal list!
You need to make sure they are SMART:
These need to be things that can be broken into small bitesize chunks to make them easier to complete.
For example, in my job as head of KS3 Computing. I have to plan all KS3 lessons! That’s one hell of a job!
First I’d break it down into year groups, followed by topics then into individual lessons.
This gives the impression the list is bigger than it was – it is like the snowball method of removing debt. Ticking a job off your list makes you feel better as you can see a change happening.
Ticking off smaller jobs is definitely something you can do in a set timeframe and seems a lot more achievable. You’ll feel a hell of a lot better about ticking off some jobs than continually looking at a massive unchanging one. You’ll also be less likely to freak out about the crazy amount still to do.
Make sure you add the things you want to do throughout the week as well – like hobbies.
For example, if you want to work out three times a week, add it and make sure you can tick it off!
Time management is the name of the game!
Create a list for the week then break it down into days. This will help you stay focused and allow you to get on with the task at hand.
Make sure the jobs that need to be done by a deadline are given priority. For a weekly list, you’ll need to allocate the job to a specific day and make sure it is done on time.
I like to give myself three priority items per day. These should be crossed off before you go to bed – thus you need to allocate the correct amount of time to each of them. If you’re anything like me, you’ll hate leaving jobs unfinished – so make sure the priority list is empty by the end of the day.
It’s important to note that if some of the jobs on the list are particularly time-consuming, you may not want to add other priority items on that day unless you have to.
In this instance – it may be worth sacrificing other activities from that day and moving them to the next. You can allocate yourself less work the next day to compensate.
Responsibility is important – if people are relying on you to do a job, it’s a good idea to get it done!
Stay true to your priority list and you’ll be even closer to successful time management.
3. Know your optimal/most efficient time
Different people are efficient at different times of the day.
For me, if I leave my workout until the evening – I’ll likely be exhausted by the end of my working day! Couple that with missing spending time with my wife and daughter and you’ve got a missed workout! Thus I’ll need to work out in the morning, free from my day and excuses.
Working out in the morning for me is fantastic! My optimal time is around 9 am, however, work doesn’t permit, so let’s just say early morning.
The same applies to work – I work really well in the morning and I’m super productive!
But blogging is better with a glass of wine or bottle of beer once our little one has gone to bed.
Find your optimal times and plan around them. You’ll find your tasks get done a lot quicker and leave you with more free time.
4. Time budget
Once you know your optimal times for efficiency throughout the day and you’ve made your to-do-lists – you can create a time budget. This budget will be similar to a zero-money budget, only we are allocating our time and not money!
I like to block out three weekdays for early morning workouts and two for work.
On these days, I’ll sleep around 9 pm and wake by 5 am, hope and pray our daughter doesn’t wake up in the night, then find the will power to get out of bed!
You may need to sign up to a local 24-hour gym or during Covid – work out at home for free doing either callisthenics or weights if you have them.
The benefit of exercising at home is the travel time, it’s great but workouts require more determination – especially when it’s cold and your bed is so warm…
Intermittent fasting is a really good way of helping to regulate your weight, it allows me to skip breakfast. Saving time and money!
This leaves enough time to shower and spend time with the family before we all start our days.
Schedule in when you leave for work and the length of your journey. If travelling far, why not sign up to Audible today and get a free audiobook?
This way you could learn something productive around your passion, in a time when you couldn’t really do anything else.
Follow this same process for the rest of the day, making sure that you account for all hours of the day and filling them with the things that need to be done!
Remember, however, spending time with your family is important and should rarely be sacrificed for work!
Do your work at work!
5. Use your time wisely and don't procrastinate!
Try to avoid taking work home where possible. Use your time budget to allocate every free moment of your day to get your jobs done.
This will allow you to have your evenings and weekends for your family, passions and social life.
If this requires you to work through your breaks and lunch, so be it! This will mean more time for you to do what you want later, and that’s what this is all about! Some sacrifices are worth it.
Filipa is very good at working with the tv on and splitting her attention in general – I on the other hand cannot focus on work while there is something I’d much rather be engaged with happening at the same time.
The split in focus makes most people unproductive and takes them double the time!
Don’t bother with it. Listen to some ‘Lofi hip hop radio’ on YouTube – headphones on and drown out the world, nothing exists except the present.
Time manage your meals with batch cooking! Spend a portion of a Saturday cooking food for the week.
Put the food into portions for each day – dinners and lunches. For us, three large meals will suffice for the weekdays. Why not try out the Vibrant Spanish Chicken Paella, increase the ingredients a bit and it will last ages! This is one of our favourites – that and Bolognese. Freeze the Bolognese sauce then heat up some spaghetti when you’re ready.
The daily time saving is phenomenal. We’d normally spend around an hour 5 nights a week, making dinners that would also serve as lunch. That’s an hour a day more family time!
Using the time management steps yourself
We really hope you’ve enjoyed these time-management steps and intend to implement at least some of them into your daily lives.
If successfully implemented, you’ll find you actually have more time than you thought.
Just plan it and use it wisely.
IMPORTANT NOTE: “If at first, you don’t succeed, try and try again!”
You will likely mess this up occasionally. I still do from time to time. Don’t kick yourself when you do, just try again the next day. You’re human and we all make mistakes – don’t let them define your progress.