Time is the only actual resource that matters. Yet, as with the majority of things that people should take care of, most of us run short on time. No matter if you’re a busy entrepreneur trying to get your business tasks organized, programmist who’s working 9-to-5 and tries to get the most out of after-work time or even a university student who strives to harness his schedule.
We all need to organize our work to get things done on time. Without planning, we get lost, which leads to further panicking over our helplessness.
Below, you’ll learn how to properly manage your schedule so you can fit more into your day and be efficient with your time:
First, you have to make it all visible regardless of if it’s creating to-do lists or writing down a simple tasks list. Studies show that you’re much more likely to finish the task when you write it down.
Begin with whatever comes to your mind such as: laundry, grocery shopping, a programming class, or reading a new book. Then, group tasks into appropriate categories. I prefer to use three time-wise categories and five sub-categories for each of the tasks.
The three time-wise categories are: Before work, during work and after work.
Of course, this approach assumes that you’re working 9-to-5 but let’s be honest, most of the people who struggle to organize their time are the people who work standard eight hours a day.
After you’re done with the above, proceed to the next five subcategories: Low-result, manager, creative and learning, fun and health and exercise.
Low-result tasks – Everything that needs to be done but would gladly be outsourced. Things like commuting, shopping, cleaning, etc. Strive to limit the number of low-result tasks to the bare minimum.
Manager tasks – Everything related to planning, organizing, sending, or responding to people. You’ll want to fill it with meetings, replying to emails, and browsing through the inbox.
Creative and learning tasks – All creative, so-called “new tasks” like writing an article or coding. It can be anything from trying to learn a new language as well as doing courses, attending webinars, and reading books.
Fun tasks – What I also tend to call social tasks. It can be anything from a date to going out with friends and watching movies. Treat this time as a moment to relax and – yes – actually have fun.
Health and exercise – Everything from running, gym, eating. Group here everything that directly corresponds to your physical state of being.
At this point, you might be asking “Is it necessary to do all of that listing and grouping?” It might seem like overkill or a futile task, but believe me, there is no reason to plan things out if you’re planning to lose. Always plan to win and put necessary work upfront.
“Make use of time, let not advantage slip.” – William Shakespeare
Materializing and grouping what you want to do is the first step to harness your schedule and get things done on time. The next step, shown below, is to put them in the right place and order:
Map it out
After you’re done with listing your tasks and grouping them into appropriate categories and subcategories, go ahead and proceed to map them out. Here, it’ll be handy to use a task-planning tool like Google Calendar. The main purpose of using such a solution is to get all of the tasks in one place, sorted, and well-arranged.
Also, you’ll get push and email notifications that will help you stay on track with everything you’ve planned. Let’s proceed to the doing part. Start from the top to the bottom, whereas the top is the beginning of the day and bottom is its end.
Grab your “before work” tasks and put them into certain timeframes. At first, it will be a guessing game as you may not know how long your morning bathroom fun takes. The first week or even a month will be all about tweaking and adjusting your schedule until it will reach its final form.
Now, to visually get a hint of which tasks relate to which subcategory you have to color code them. If you’re using Google Calendar you can right click on a certain event and choose the color.
Of course, you can use any color pattern you want. Just remember which color relates to which category. To save time you can use my framework which goes as follows:
- Low-result – Tomato
- Manager – Tangerine
- Creative and learning – Basil
- Fun tasks – Lavender
- Health and exercise – Grape
No, I’m not making it up. All of the colors in Google Calendar are described as veggies, fruits, and herbs. Thanks to color coding you’ll see how much time you spend on particular tasks. Your goal will be to lower the amount of tomato-red and tangerine-orange. Strive to have a grape-violet time each day as well as the basil-green as the most frequent events.
When you’re done with before work tasks, go ahead and fill the calendar with during work and after work activities. Some of you won’t be able to map out the entire work time due to the character of your job. In such a case, don’t try to come up with imaginary tasks, just plan what you can. Put placeholders if you’re not sure and fill in the gaps when you know what you’re about to do.
Next, focus on what you’d like to do during your after-work time. Be realistic, but fill it with tasks that you’d really want to do. Use this time to read a new book you’ve wanted to read or to start the course that would accelerate your career.
“Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!” – Tony Robbins
Adjust and upgrade
Equipped with a calendar full of color-coded events is just the beginning of the road to getting things done on time. Now that the hard part is done, you can focus on adjusting the calendar to your actual needs.
As time goes by, you’ll see how much time certain things take you, what can be optimized, and what can be outsourced. Use that feedback to optimize the way you spend your time and upgrade your calendar every week and every month.
Remember that the hardest thing is always to start. Most people avoid doing these two things: Planning their time and goals and taking care of their money.
People simply fear to look into how they actually spend their time and money while these are one of the most important aspects of their lives! Don’t be that guy who doesn’t know where his last three hours had vanished. Take care of your time and use it to achieve your dreams.