There are certain things in life that feel infinite. Time. Love. Health. The capacity for thought and imagination. Then something happens that reminds us of our mortality. Of the fragile nature of things. Somewhere in that sadness comes the realisation that we have one beautiful, amazing, crazy, short and wonderful life. And that we should spend it wisely.
A little while ago I wrote a post about treating time like money. With the same level of care and thought. I’m the kind of person that finds security in that approach. I like knowing where my time is invested, what’s coming up, exactly what I’ve committed to.
I think I’ve always been like this — a planner. Organised and uncomfortable with parameters altering. When I was younger, last minute changes to plans made me irrationally irate. I’m more laid back these days but I still hold tight to control. I’m a nightmare on holidays. I know I should let go more. Such a grip can lead to the very thing I’m trying to preserve slipping away. The joy and potential in each moment.
Perhaps you’re like me — trying to marshal time and keep it in strict order. Or maybe your time is more scattered. Defying your efforts to line it up neatly. Errant minutes flying away no matter how hard you chase them.
Either way, these five ways to organise and think about time might help you as much as they do me.
One schedule to rule them all.
How many systems to do use to manage your time and task list? I’m guessing notes in your phone, SMS to self, two or three email accounts, a paper dairy, and potentially a few post it notes. I have all those too – but I collate it all in one place. My bullet journal. I find it’s so useful to have one anologe system that lets me zoom in and out of all the things I need to do. I wrote about how I use mine here.
The detailed (and complete) to do list.
I start each day with a to do list. Created in the morning or evening prior. Not only do I jot down what I need to do, but how long it will take and when I intend to do it during the day. You can download my template below. This helps me stop over-scheduling and helps me be more realistic with my time. I try to incorporate some white space as well (more about that below).
Covey’s four quadrants.
These four quadrants have been used as a time management tool for a long time. This is a great explanation. The quadrants help me understand what exactly it is I’m spending my time on. I know I spend too much time in the crisis quadrant – urgent and important. It’s not a great place to spend all your time. It leads to burn out and exhaustation.
The importance of white space.
You might have already guessed that I have a tendency to cram every minute with stuff. But creating white space is such an important part of good time management. I love this piece on white space.
Regular life audit.
Every now and again I feel overwhelmed. Who doesn’t it? When I do, I try I delegate all my worry to a piece of paper. An A3 sheet divided into about 16 squares representing different areas on my life – work, career, spirituality/head space, home, partner, friends, extended family, pets, kids, hobbies, finances, school, fitness, health etc. I note what’s coming up, where I’m at, whether I feel comfortable, whether anything immediate needs to change. I always feel better after this exercise and more in control of my life.
(Little disclaimer – I’m scheduled to chat to my work mates about good time management so this is me gathering my thoughts. Two birds. One stone. Another time management tip).
Are you organised with your time? Or are you happy to go with the flow? Somewhere in between?