How to Improve Your Time Management

In a list of the things I am bad at but will need as an adult, time management is numbers 1 through like, mostly everything. I'm ashamed, but I will admit it. I am capital b-a-d BAD at time management.

In high school and elementary school, I used to work better with a busier schedule. Wuth school, and work, and me being an awful blogger, my schedule is definitely busy. But I'm starting to figure out that it's not necessarily the busy part that helped me function better, but the fact that I had a regular schedule. My classes are pretty regular so that's nice, but my work schedule changes week to week. I plan homework around my job, so I have to plan blogging and attempting to start a podcast around both. Plus occasionally sleeping, something that  haven't been doing nearly enough of over the past few weeks.

I finally sat down with myself to hammer out some rules to set up a routine that I can actually stick to.

1. Set a Bedtime Full nights of sleep are 100% essential to being productive and making the most of your day. You can't be at your best when you're doing the slow blink until 2 pm. When I'm really exhausted, I can't talk, I can't think, I can barely focus my eyes! I need to make sure I have a time when I turn off the lights, the music, and especially the phone! I'm super guilty of facebooking long into the night, and it's really terrible. Get your 8 so you can concentrate! (Oh look how witty!). My goal is to be in bed by 10:30 PM, and asleep around 11. That way I have a little time to read or meditate before 100% lights out.
Tip: Wear a sleeping mask! I never used one until college, where my roommate would be up at all hours with her desk lamp on. That thing was like the freakin' sun! My mom sent me a sleeping mask and it was weird at first, but now whenever I put on my mask, 99.9% of the time, I'm out in minutes! I used the NAME OF MASK. It's a good starter one, it's not super tight on your face and it has a shape, so it doesn't sit on your eyes too much  I always take mine off in my sleep and end up laying on it. Going on three years with it and still holds it's shape!

2. Set a Shut Down Time Yes, this is different than a bedtime! Your shut down time is a set time every night where you stop working and just relax. Since I often have to work closing shifts, it's a little tougher. But on non-work nights, I would put away homework, textbooks, blog work, and editing at a certain time. I got this idea from Estee Lalonde, who puts (LINK VID) away all her work at 7 PM. I don't think 7 is realistic for me, judging by the amount of work I already have. I'm going to start with 9 and see if I can slowly push it back earlier, while still getting my work done. I do have a bit of an additional limit, since I'll have to be done before work on my late nights.
Tip: Set alarms! Have a 30, a 15, and a 5 minute warning alarm, just to remind yourself that it's coming up to your shut down time. Make sure to keep that within earshot, but out of sight! Watching the time tick away is either going to make you feel like time is dragging, or like you have extra pressure and stress.

3. Workout Let's be honest here, how many of us say we just don't have the time to workout? Don't worry I do it too! Whether its a quick stretch or an afternoon on the running trails, any workout is a good workout!
(Legally Blonde Endorphins gif)
While we aren't being convicted of murder (I hope!), working out will release endorphins, making you happier and more relaxed when you sit back down to your work. When I'm feeling extra stressed, I go for a run, no matter what the hour. Whether it's yoga or body combat, or both, it'll help you refocus your mind on the important To-Dos while helping you let go of the little what ifs. Plus, it really does help when you get frustrated, being able to just walk away for a while and not think about a paper or homework or whatever.
Tip: Schedule your workouts to hold you accountable! Paying for a gym membership or a class makes you a little bit beholden to going, if you can afford it. If you're in college, try one if their fitness classes, you'll definitely be accountable if you're getting graded on it! Scheduling a time with a friend every week to workout together is great too, no one likes to cancel on friends.

4. Stop Multitasking I am super guilty of this, especially during freshman year of college. All my friends would watch Netflix while they did homework, so I figured I would too. Two seasons of Gilmore Girls later, it was 4:30 AM and I had gotten zero homework done. Or I would try to research for a paper and do math homework at the same time. Or I would eat and do homework at the same time. I would try to do two things at once, and end up getting nothing done. The best thing I've learned regarding improving time management is do things one at a time. Dedicate your full focus to your work, and you'll be able to get it done more efficiently than if you tried to do ten things at once. Cut out distractions, put on white noise or classical music, something you won't dance to (guilty again!). I would suggest Spotify's studying playlist OR

5. Get an Agenda If you take only one thing from this post, let it be the word PLANNER is big sparkly bubble letters. Get. A. Planner. It's the best thing ever. Not just for writing down when you have to call mom, but scheduling time for specific things. You might have to try out a couple different books to find what works for you, it's definitely a learning curve. I like having one big to do list and an hourly block for my day. On the To Do list, I can write down my assignments, things I need to do at home, things I need to buy, and what ever else I want to put. I like having the hourly break downs of my day because then I can actually see when I have free time. I can block out when I have work, when I have class, when I have free time for homework, when I have blocked time to write/record/edit.

6. Reward Yourself At the end of the day, sometimes you just have to treat yourself. When you finish an assignment, or a major section of reading, or just hit a breakpoint after a good amount of work, don't be afraid to close your laptop, walk away, and just veg for a little while. Be careful though, writing one paragraph doesn't warrant a two hour Netflix break. My goal is usually to finish one assignment or one chapter of reading and then take a 10-15 minute break. Use an alarm to remind yourself and don't get started on anything long term on your break rewards! This is the time to play with your dog, toss in laundry, grab a quick, healthy (!) snack or just walk a quick lap around your house/floor/apartment to get the blood flowing again. Keeping your nose to the grindstone for 6 hours nonstop is just going to get you angry and exhausted. Let your brain relax every now and then!

So those are my five tips for improving your time management skills. I don't pretend to have mastered these skills, so I'm working on improving at the same time that you are! But after all that, I'm off to go finish up my homework, got lots to do before my shut down time tonight! In the mean time, let me know what your best tips are for improving time management! And until next time,

Coming to you from M, Personally


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