I think a lot about time management. One of the challenges that adult life has frustrated me with, is the collision between the unrelenting flow of time and the unwavering certitude of having things to do. When I went through the transformation of student life to working life, I clearly remember being very disappointed a lot of the time because I just couldn’t get things working right. I was always lagging behind, I couldn’t get everything done that I had set out for myself, and I therefore couldn’t really enjoy rest or relax.
My time in South-Africa has left me with a better grasp on time, and although I’m not necessarily achieving more… I am happier with what I AM achieving. So in this blog I just wanted to give you some ideas and tips that have helped me get the most out of my days!
Organise, prioritize (Even if you suck at it)
Bear in mind that I am, inherently, not an organized human being. At all. I’m forgetful, messy and I know I have to work on organizing and prioritizing. I’m the guy who is searching for item A, displaces items B and C in the process of finding item A, and this story has quite some chapters. Even if I am aware that you should start with the most difficult tasks, I tend to push those tasks to the back of my mind, until the true deadline pressure hits. But if that works for you, please go ahead! Some people need that challenge or edge to get going!
However, organising and prioritising does help. I try to make daily “to do-lists” that encompass both my professional tasks and my private tasks. I even put things like getting petrol for the car, writing an e-mail to a friend and other seemingly trivial tasks on my “to do list”. Because they’re not as trivial as you think, and they take up time. Which brings me to point 2:
Keep it real
Everything takes time. Time is a resource that you spend on a continuous basis. You have about 960 minutes to spend per day, if you want to have a solid 8 hours of sleep (don’t skimp on sleep!).
Be realistic. I used to be disappointed because I wasn’t being realistic! If you can do a single extra task on top of your regular day, be content! Tomorrow is another day, and Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Lists and plans
Either my memory is failing me, or weekends are filling up more rapidly than ever. Maybe it’s a bit of both. But without actually writing things down, or having a visual representation of the upcoming weeks, it’s tough to keep track of where you have to be, who you have to spend time with, and what the fuck is actually going on. My suggestion is Google Calendar. It works for me, and it’s a handy tool because it lets you share calendars with other people. It does miracles for my girlfriend and me, because we can book each other’s time for those mandatory family or friendly occasions. Don’t forget to book me-time as well, because you can’t have valuable we-time without valuable me-time!
Life hacks and shortcuts
I have a pretty tough commute. I’m stuck in the car twice a day for over an hour. Belgium traffic is saturated and it’s not getting better. My personal situation will hopefully improve in the future, but until then, I need to face the commuting road warriors and Mad Max it out. I hate being stuck in the car, but I have found ways to optimise my time. I immediately invested in 2 things: a hands-free phone set, and an audible account. I have listened to almost 20 audiobook titles in 10 months, and I frequently make calls to friends and relatives in the car (never text! It’s freaking dangerous and there’s not a day I don’t see someone swerving in their lane because they really need to like a Facebook post. Not worth it).
I refuse to spend one minute and not learn or do something productive and that’s the only reason I stick with it. I try to have the same attitude in all aspects of my life. When I’m doing dishes, I’ll listen to a podcast. I’ll watch a documentary or some sports event on TV while I’m ironing. And when I travel by train, I always have a book with me. To me, acquiring knowledge on a daily basis is one of those things I can do to improve myself on a daily basis. I choose when I chill and do nothing. You control your time, time doesn’t necessarily control you!
That’s it for now! I’ll make another post about this topic in the future.
I know not a lot of people read this, but if you do: thank you! If you have comments or questions, please don’t hesitate to leave them below!