7 Tips to Make the Most of Your Time

Days blend into one another as obligations fill your plate. Do you ever find an end to your to-do list? You try to achieve the elusive work-life balance, but something always manages to show up out of the blue to make you dig for more time as a hard-working woman.

Stop watching the clock and find meaning in each moment while accomplishing all you set out to do — but don’t feel guilty if a task takes longer to complete than you expected. What does time mean to you? What do you do with it? Do you feel satisfied at the end of the day? Here are seven tips to make the most of your time

1. Set Boundaries for Dividing Your Time — and Self

Set boundaries for dividing your time among personal, family and work. Do you take time to live in the moment and enjoy life?

Often, you arrive home only to end up tied to your phone. What if you spend Sunday afternoons with family and Wednesday nights as a date night with yourself? Limit the time you spend on social media, so you stay away from endless scrolling, comparing and unnecessary stress. When you simplify your life, you refocus on your priorities.

2. Don’t Check Your Email First Thing

After you turn off your alarm, do you check your email on your smartphone while you’re still in bed? You automatically transport yourself to the afternoon, when you fill your head immediately with every obligation you need to meet before the day’s up. Time speeds by as you run on autopilot to get everything done. Do you remember what you ate for breakfast, or if you ate at all?

Let yourself ease into the morning, and start the day with a tall glass of water. Save your first and last hours before sleep for more peaceful activities. Schedule a 30-minute period or longer for checking your email, and stick with it.

3. Batch or Burnout

Try batching your tasks, instead of doing them one by one. Group similar types of tasks into larger time blocks. You get more done, and are less likely to distract yourself or burn out. It takes an average of 23 minutes to get your focus back once you lose it.

Set a timer, and turn off distractions. Batch your personal appointments, meetings, errands, meal planning and laundry.

4. Schedule Time for Exercise

You pay for a gym membership, but when did you last visit? Working out boosts your energy levels and mood, and you will feel more motivated to exercise if you schedule the time. You don’t have to find an hour or two out of your day, either. Space out three 10-minute sessions throughout the day to keep your energy and focus up.

5. Focus on the 80/20 Rule

Economist Vilfredo Pareto discovered 80 percent of consequences derive from 20 percent of the causes — which is now commonly known as the 80/20 rule, or the Pareto principle. Pareto developed the idea by observing 20 percent of the population owned 80 percent of the land in Italy, and that this principle was also common in other countries. So, what 20 percent of your time drives the 80 percent of your success? You can use this principle to measure many aspects of your life along with tasks. It also makes you more aware of how you use the rest of your time.

6. Work in Meaningful Bursts

A strong link exists between lack of control and burnout — you’re more likely to feel engaged in life and work when you feel like you can influence decisions that affect your work, exercise autonomy in your role and have access to resources that make you more capable of fulfilling your responsibilities. More importantly, you need to find meaning in what you do. If you find a task mentally exhausting, break it down into a period of 30 minutes. Work in bursts, focusing only on the task at hand for 30 minutes, then take a five-minute break. Get up and walk around. Refill your tea, coffee or water.

7. Reconnect With Nature

Use attention restoration principles to improve your focus and performance at work and home. Researchers state looking at a bit of green helps you replenish your stores of self-control. Take time to reconnect with nature with a walk through the park, or spend five minutes at the window enjoying the wind wisp through the trees while your coffee brews.

It’s easy to let life slip by as you focus on completing your to-do list, but making the most of your time comes down to accomplishing what’s meaningful to you in each moment. It’s natural to feel bored, disappointed or frustrated, but you can overcome these feelings by changing how you approach specific tasks and making time for what matters to you.

Sarah Landrum

Sarah Landrum recently graduated from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR. Now, she's a freelance writer and career blogger sharing advice on navigating the work world and achieving happiness and success in your career. You can find her tweeting on her coffee breaks @SarahLandrum

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