Fall means shorter days and longer nights, but the same 24 hours in a day. So why does it feel like there are never enough of them? The answer lies somewhere in the murky and highly personal area of time management.
The eight steps we’ve compiled below borrow heavily from Stephen Covey’s best-selling business book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Almost 30 years later, his time-management matrix can help us determine exactly how urgent and important our activities really are.
start by simplifying.
This results in doing the things that are most important to us, rather than fighting fires, dealing with interruptions or getting swallowed up in busy work. Simplifying our routines and lives helps us focus on the things that really matter. Sticking to a routine for the daily activities that get us out the door in the morning helps us save time for the activities most important to us. “Choice reduction means you have more cognitive resources available to solve problems and think creatively,” explains Tara Swart, a neuroscientist and co-author of Neuroscience for Leadership. [https://www.ft.com/content/3d07fcea-b37b-11e4-9449-00144feab7de?mhq5j=e6]
be a creature of habit.
Put your keys in the same bowl, zipper pocket or hook every day, without fail. That way you’ll always know where to find them. We loved the idea of mounting a magnetic knife strip, found at a kitchen supply or big box store, on a bulletin board or on the wall near your door. Just tap your keys to keep them handy for when you need them next. Same goes for your bag or purse, laptop, shoes and coat.
make a to-do list.
Get tomorrow out of your head and onto paper/screen before you leave work or before you go to sleep. It’ll help you relax and wake up ready to go.
decide on your uniform.
Maybe you actually have a uniform. Great. If not, create one for yourself by identifying items of clothing and colors you can mix and match and feel comfortable in each day. Getting dressed for work becomes easier and faster.
automate whatever you can.
Measure your coffee or set the timer on your coffee maker before you go to bed. Purchase and reload your bus or train pass online. Create regular service pickups, deliveries and payments online.
Take a cue from emergency room doctors and nurses by identifying the projects that require immediate attention and the ones that can wait. Don’t be tempted by others’ urgency, only by what’s important to your objectives and goals.
block your time.
If you have the ability to set aside chunks of time for specific activities, like checking your email or doing administrative tasks, make it happen. You’ll have it scheduled and won’t be tempted to get distracted or pulled in another direction.
protect your time.
There’s a time and place for catching up, relaxing and doing busy work. You just need to get a handle on when. Be clear with co-workers when you are concentrating by closing your door if you have one, hanging a sign or simply telling them when you are or are not available.
Start by determining what’s most important to you. Then use every time-saving tip and trick you can to save more for what matters most.