When you have too much to do and not enough time to do it, every second feels precious. That’s why it can feel particularly frustrating when, despite your best efforts, your to-do list is as long as ever. If it’s a regular occurrence, you may be falling into some common time traps. Thankfully, a little awareness will go a long way in salvaging your time.
Trapped by Bad Habits
There are plenty of small, seemingly harmless habits that can suck hours out of your day if you aren’t careful. Here are some sneaky ways you might be losing time without even realizing it:
- Phone Use. Do you realize how much time you actually spend on your phone each day? A 2018 report by Kleiner Perkins, a tech-focused venture capital firm, showed the average adult uses their phone for more than three hours per day. That number has been steadily increasing since 2008, when the average user spent just 0.3 hours on the phone screen daily.
- Lack of Organization. Letting clutter pile up means that you’ll be spending more time later putting it all back and searching for lost items. Allowing work and other non-tangibles to pile up causes the same sort of mental traffic jam and may force you to go into damage-control mode to get everything done.
- Multitasking. Trying to make dinner, text a friend and catch up on your favorite show all at once might sound like an efficient use of time. In reality, multitasking may force your brain to take time transitioning from task to task, slowing you down.
Protecting Your Time
Becoming aware of your time-wasting habits is only the first step in regaining control of your schedule. Next, you’ll need to work on breaking them. First, take a little bit of time out of your week to organize your priorities. This can help you make quick decisions about which task to tackle next, keeping you on track by showing you what needs to be done next.
When you take breaks or have some extra time on your hands, be intentional about how you spend it. Remind yourself why you’re picking up your phone or how long you’ll be able to rest before you find yourself in a time crunch again. Keeping your priorities in mind and giving each action a purpose can help you protect your time.
Finally, create routines for each part of your day. Establishing a morning routine can help you feel secure and prepared for the day, while using one as you work helps you block off enough time to complete each task. At the end of the day, shift your routine to put yourself in relaxation mode and get ready for some energizing sleep.
Now that you’ve organized your time, you’ll need to use it as efficiently as possible. A few time-management strategies can help. The Pomodoro Technique is a popular strategy that asks you to focus for short bursts of time before taking quick breaks. This gives you time to rest without letting you stray too far from the task at hand.
Put your phone and any other distractions far away from you and only pull them out when you truly have time for them. If the Internet is a problem, you can use website blockers to make particularly enticing sites unavailable until you’ve completed your work. Finally, make your space comfortable. Grab all the snacks, drinks, chargers, and other supplies you’ll need and turn on the fan or heater so that you don’t have to get up and break your concentration.
You may only have so many hours in a day, but you have the power to use them well. Stay focused and set yourself up for success with a little extra planning, and you could be well on your way to making your goals a reality.