How I have started to better manage my time
As a father and someone in a full time job, time is something I never seem to have enough of, from getting my own personal projects complete, to reading that next book, even to getting some downtime to get through my gaming backlog.
Procrastination is completely normal and throughout our lives is something we have all dealt with and is something that will probably never go away. However, for me, it is always the guilt that follows that is much worse than the procrastination itself. After a long day of work, then spending some time with my family and daughter before putting her to bed, day after day I feel exhausted and my motivation for doing anything seems to go right out the window, which usually leads to laying back on the sofa and finding that next Netflix binge.
If, like me, this sounds familiar, then I have some good news- there are a number of tips and tricks I have learnt from others that have worked for me. To help make better use of my personal time and reduce that dreaded guilt from all the downtime I spend procrastinating.
Procrastination, depending on how you look at it and how much you let it control you, it is not always a bad thing. There are times when I just want to sit down with my partner and daughter, watch a film and eat some popcorn. Do I feel guilty for doing this? Of course not and neither should you. As long as during a set period of time I pick up the different tasks I wanted to complete and work on, the guilt that would otherwise be hanging over me, seems to be less of an issue.
A few helpful tips that worked for me
- Finding your purpose
- Giving yourself more time
- Starting small
- Accepting that you will fall
- Use what works for you
Finding your purpose
Probably one of the most important things to consider, is finding what you enjoy. There is no point trying to focus on better managing your time or beating procrastination if what you are doing it for just feels like another 9 to 5. For me this has taken a very long time, I have always enjoyed the idea of doing or being something, over the act of actually enjoying it. This was especially true during my childhood, when at times I almost felt embarrassed around the things I loved and enjoyed. Instead of embracing who I was and what I loved, I hid from it, to avoid any negative comments, jokes and in fact the opinions of others.
Throughout my life I never really knew what I “wanted to be”, I never had a clear idea or path on what I enjoyed and how could I? There was so much out there I had yet to even try, before deciding on whether or not I enjoyed it.
My advice would be to take your time, try different things, different roles and jobs, different hobbies and experiences throughout life. Then, once you find the things that you really enjoy, embrace them, and never be embarrassed for what or who you are.
Giving yourself more time
I remember when I was younger and had just started out in my professional career, how little time I kept telling myself I had. As time has gone on and through juggling a full time career, family, friends, hobbies and personal growth, I found that there are a lot of ways to better manage your time.
Within my professional career as a marketer, especially when working for smaller start up businesses, at times the day to day job can feel overwhelming, with more tasks than could ever be completed within a given time. Through trying a number of different things, time blocking worked very well for me both across my professional career and better managing my time in general. There are a number of different ways you can do this and it really comes down to what works better for you. One method that worked great for me was blocking out times within my calendar to focus on particular tasks, within this set time, I would focus only on working on that single task.
Another very useful method, which seems almost too obvious is a ‘to do list.’ Simply starting each day, or the night before, noting down the top 3 tasks I would like to get done the next day. This has helped me to focus better, and not to switch back and forth between a number of different tasks and projects.
This next method very much aligns with manging your time. Over the last few years, with working in the marketing department of a tech company, there has been so much I have learnt and one of my takeaways has been to break down a task into smaller, more manageable parts, also referred to as an MMF (minimum marketable feature). By taking what, in some cases, can feel like a daunting and impossible task to complete, and breaking it down into smaller parts. This is a great way of tackling certain projects and keeping more focused on a single piece of work.
You will fall
I am by no means perfect, and although I do my best to manage my time and beat off procrastination, there are times when I fall short, times when I lose my focus. Once you learn to accept that you will fall short and fail at times, the easier you will find it to pick yourself back up again, learn from your mistakes and move on. At the end of the day we are all human and through our mistakes, we learn and grow. That is something to be proud of.
Use what works for you
There are an endless amount of tools, apps and methods you can use to help increase your productivity. For me, I tend to stick to Notion, Microsoft To Do, Google Calendar, Samsung Notes and also a handful of physical notebooks.
The tools that work for me might not work for you, and my advice would be to try a range of different options and go with the ones you are most comfortable with. I feel it is always easier to start with what you already have access to. For example, if you already own an iPhone, the Notes and Calendar IOS app may work better for you.
Wrapping it up
I hope some of these tips will help you better manage your time, reduce the stress you are putting on yourself and help you to get more done. Sadly with this there are no short cuts and no quick fixes that will magically make your life perfect, it will all come down to you, growing your self discipline and most importantly of all, never giving up and learning along the way.