Time is the scarcest and most valuable resource we have. Although some might deny it, think about it — how many times have you complained about lack of time? If the day was longer, your job wouldn’t be so stressful, you’d spend more time with your family or doing what you love. The prospect of a lack of time is simply stressful. Yet, when it comes to time management, some people are more successful than others. What is their secret? We’ll let you know below.
Time goes flying when you are hanging out with friends or having fun. By contrast, difficult tasks seem to fill the entire day, and your hours at work pass painfully slowly. You could say that time perception varies according to what you are doing. According to behavioral neuroscience or brain psychology, time perception is essentially a construction of the brain. Therefore, time can be manipulated and distorted in multiple ways.
Although we still don’t fully understand how this happens, some theories believe that dopamine and norepinephrine play an important role in time perception. Both chemicals work alongside our impulses to sleep and eat, which come from changes in light and darkness. Basically, we have an internal clock that helps us perceive the lengths of time.
Stress and Time Management
How do you spend your time? Sometimes, you may feel like all you do is work. This is not an exaggeration. In fact, adults spend one-third of their lives (if not more) at work. When not working, you are commuting, doing household chores, taking care of your children, or doing other basic maintenance activities.
Too often, lack of time is a great source of stress. When you have too many things on your plate and don’t know where to start, you feel anxious and irritable. These feelings cloud your thinking and decision making, preventing you from acting efficiently. As a result, you end up wasting precious time.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could manage your time wisely? Yet, if you think about it, nobody can do this. Nobody has the ability to make the future come faster or travel back to the past. “Managing time” is the stuff of science fiction. What people can actually do is to focus their attention on what truly matters. This way, you feel more in control and are able to keep stress levels in check.
5 Ways to Efficiently Manage Time
If you are thinking about how to focus your attention to manage your time efficiently, here are six ways to do it.
1. Set clear goals
This might seem like an obvious one. But, too often, we feel overwhelmed by an overabundance of pending tasks. This only leads to more stress. As such, the best thing to do is to start your day by clearly defining your goals. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is important and urgent?
- What is important but not urgent?
- What can you say “no” to?
- What is not important and not urgent?
Answering these questions can help you clarify what is essential. The Eisenhower Matrix also tackled some of these questions. It’s an excellent tool for time management:
In the long run, this will do wonders for your time management. It will also help you to redirect your focus, something vital for meaning and purpose.
2. Minimizing interruptions
It’s hard to avoid interruptions; they just happen. Unexpected calls, emails, last-minute meetings, and chat conversations with your boss or colleagues delay your work. Even during your free time, while doing something you love, you feel tempted to check your social media feed or notifications. These interruptions decrease your productivity and also kill your motivation.
You need to cut distractions as much as possible. A good way to start is by snoozing your notifications or keeping your phone away while you are working or carrying out an activity. You can also communicate with your colleagues or loved ones to let them know you can’t be interrupted at certain times. Perhaps you can come up with a signal. For example, whenever you have your headphones on, they know you should not be disrupted.
If you fear to miss important emails or notifications, you can set up a dedicated time for checking your inbox. Add this time to your daily schedule or comment on it with those who might be affected by it.
3. Avoid multitasking
Multitasking seems like a great option, especially for busy days. Yet, it’s not for everyone. Research by Stanford University found that people who multitask are less productive at focusing on a single task at a time. They also found that multitaskers have difficulty paying attention, recalling information, and switching from one job to another. In general, they struggled to organize their thoughts and filter out irrelevant information.
This happens because the brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When we try to do two things simultaneously, our brains cannot perform both tasks efficiently. You might have noticed that, despite fitting as many tasks as possible within a day, you’re still struggling to meet deadlines and achieve the results you want, it’s time to stop multitasking.
An excellent way to do this is by using time management tools such as the Pomodoro Technique. This Italian technique splits the work into 25-minute long sessions, with a 5-minute break between them. Pomodoro is easy to incorporate into your routine and it significantly improves attention and mental clarity.
4. Take breaks
Having a space to cool down and unwind is essential. It helps you avoid burnout and it’s an integral part of your work and personal life balance. Give yourself breaks throughout the day. Instead of simply taking your average coffee break, try to incorporate physical activity. Try stretching out, going for a walk, or doing a 15-minute meditation.
5. Be aware of the Now
As mentioned before, how you manage time largely depends on your ability to remain focused on the present. When you are mindful, you remain focused on the now, away from distracting thoughts about the future or the past. Mindfulness is mostly known for relieving stress and enhancing productivity through deep focus.
When you are mindful, you are able to control racing, repetitive, and distracting thoughts that often lead to stress. It’s a self-regulating mechanism. Every time your mind wanders to your argument with a colleague or you feel an urge to check the feed, just acknowledge these thoughts. Realize they are there and bring your attention back to the task at hand. This might seem like an overly simple scenario, but many other aspects of your experience can get in the way.
If you are unfamiliar with the concept of being mindful or are just starting, there are several ways to incorporate this into your life. Practices such as meditation, yoga, or Tai Chi promote mindfulness. The Synctuition program fuses the best of relaxing 3D sounds and guided meditations to help you cultivate mindfulness and clarity of mind.
Take Action: Relax And Use Your Time Wisely!
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the lack of time, it’s time to take action. Change your strategy: set clear goals, minimize interruptions while you are working, avoid multitasking, take some time off, and be mindful.