Do you currently follow a daily routine? If so, how is it structured? Is time management a skill? Sometimes the constant demands of modern life can overwhelm us, forcing too many tasks into a single day’s to-do list. Trying to complete them all back to back, without a plan, can make productivity challenging. This is why time management is important.
Creating and establishing a daily routine can introduce some comfort into the daily chaos. That’s because predictability and order can actually cut down on anxiety and stress. Whether you’re looking to bring more order to your existing routine or you’re interested in creating a new one, these six tips will help you be more focused and aligned with your goals each day.
Time management is a skill! Here’s why time management is important and some tips to help you maximize your day:
1. Make a daily to-do list
Just the act of making daily decisions can tax our brains. This article from the University of California Berkeley explains how lack of structure is a source of stress. As we go through our day, making dozens of minor decisions, we’re mentally exhausting ourselves without even realizing it. And in a work-from-home environment, it can be even more challenging to stay on task. to
Structure, then, takes the burden of those small decisions off of our brains. The best way to start is with a daily to-do list. You’ll be able to plan out your day ahead, consulting your list when you might veer off track, which can save time and ease the burden on your brain. With even just a few minutes of planning, you can ease the struggle of completing mundane daily tasks and add efficiency.
2. Do the hard things first
According to sources like Berkeley and MakeMeBetter, if you do the most challenging thing on your list first, then the rest of your day will feel like a breeze. This is partly because you’re likely to have the most mental or physical energy earlier in the day. Another benefit to this approach is that you don’t have to sit and dread your most difficult task for the entire day. If you know you have something challenging to do, then it can be draining, whether you recognize it or not.
3. Meditating or working out? There are optimal times to do them
Both meditating and working out can be key to a healthier lifestyle. And while doing them them at all is excellent, there are times of the day when they’re even more beneficial. According to research cited in Time Magazine, the best time for exercise is in the morning. You’ll be energized throughout the day, able to move your body clock back slightly, and able to burn more fat by working out on an empty stomach. Whenever you get your sweat on, it doesn’t require a gym membership or need to be a financial drain – particularly in light of the impact that the global pandemic has had on finances and lifestyle. (Here’s how to workout with no equipment.)
The benefits of meditation, meanwhile, are less dependent on when you practice. Some sources, like MindWorks, say that morning meditation is best if you can manage it, simply because the morning is often a quieter time for most people. However, meditation can be beneficial at any time in the day that fits your needs and schedule. Other experts, like Bhante Gunaratana, recommend meditating whenever you’re least likely to be distracted by your thoughts (or by other distractions around you). The time of day you choose to meditate should be based on your needs and goals, and can continue to evolve with your practice.
4. Hone your sleep schedule
Creating a consistent sleep schedule is the healthiest way todevelop healthy sleeping habits. According to sleep research from Harvard University, there are a few specific steps that can help: creating an environment that’s conducive to sleep and maintaining a sleep schedule allows us to set our body clocks, fall asleep faster and wake up more easily. And yes, maintaining your sleep schedule even on the weekends matters, too.
5. Make a backup plan if you get off schedule
Berkeley also has advice for what to do if a task from your to-do list is still unfinished by the end of the day: simply make a plan to deal with the lingering item. Research suggests that by making a plan with a specific time, you’ll be able to focus more easily and not let anxiety about it dominate your mind and, potentially, hold you back from your daily success.
6. Be willing to adapt
Finally, willingness to adapt to changing circumstances is key. Plans are great, but being able to adjust to surprises allows us to roll with the punches, so to speak.. When it comes to planning, stay light on your feet and don’t sweat it if life throws you a curveball—it almost inevitably will.
In a work-from-home environment, it can be particularly challenging to stay on task. The uncertainty of the pandemic left us a lot of us with less focus than we used to have, so we need to take the burden of those small decisions off of our brains, improving our physical and mental well-being.
By sticking to the same sleep schedule, you can set your body clock, fall asleep faster, and wake up more easily. Yes, it’s best to stick to this schedule even on the weekends. With this insight into why time management is important, how will you alter your daily routine?