Thursday 23 November 2017

15 ways to manage your time

How you manage your time and energy levels on a daily basis has a significant impact on the quality of your life, writes productivity and time management expert Yasmin Vorajee

Managing your time better
Managing your time better
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As life get busier and busier, it becomes even more important to take stock and ensure you're using your time in the best possible way. By planning your schedule even slightly ahead and taking breaks regularly you to get more done with your day without feeling overwhelmed by the tasks ahead of you. It doesn't even have to mean huge changes to routine or drastically reforming your habits. Just little things to help your mind stay focused and less frazzled.

1 Stop telling yourself you don't have enough time

When you tell yourself something over and over again, it becomes part of the soundtrack of your life. Affirmations, positive and negative, can have a profound effect on the quality of your life.

When you tell yourself you don't have enough time, you create a feeling of discomfort within your body and each time you repeat it, the feeling becomes stronger and stronger.

The next time you hear yourself saying 'I don't have enough time', tell yourself you have all the time in the world and notice the shift in the feeling in your body.

To begin with, it will be very subtle but the more you repeat this affirmation, the more it will become your reality.

2 Get up 10 minutes earlier each day

Many 'gurus' advocate waking up at 5am to give yourself a great head-start.

For many people, that's just not realistic so instead of setting yourself a tough challenge which you know you won't do, set your alarm for just 10 minutes earlier and use this time to ground yourself and appreciate the gift of another day and ask yourself 'what do I want to achieve today?'

Use this time to set your intentions and your agenda and you won't get distracted by the agendas of others.

3 Schedule out your day

Create a plan for your day so you know what your most important outcomes are.

Create a plan at the beginning of each week which you can then break down day by day. This will ensure you are working on the tasks that will make a difference rather than getting stuck fire-fighting problems and issues.

Staying focused on your priorities will help you achieve the results you want instead of wondering why you can't get things done.

4 Check email at set times a day and stick to it!

Email is meant to help you but it can be a big distraction. In fact, constantly checking email makes you less likely to retain information. Email is a great tool but many in-boxes are congested and heaving with unread emails.

In order to be more productive, set specific times to check your email and stick to them. This will help you to focus on the task at hand. If you're concerned you may miss an important message, place an automatic reply letting people know you check emails at specific times and if it's urgent, provide a contact number.

5 Avoid multi-tasking

Multi-tasking is a myth. Our brains work better when we focus on one thing and complete that.

When you are working on a piece of work or a task that needs your attention, switch off the other distractions including social media, your phone and your emails.

The caveat for this is when you are completing tasks that don't require your focused attention. So ironing, while watching TV and having a cup of tea is fine because it's a low attention and low risk activity.

6 Work in blocks of time… 50 mins and 10 mins rest

Every day, you are bombarded with information from all angles which has made attention spans extremely limited.

But when you have work to do, an assignment to write, a presentation to prepare, your best work will come from a spurt of focused activity and attention.

Get a kitchen timer (avoid using your phone to prevent distractions) and set a timer for 45 or 50 minutes and get your head down. Then take a 10 minute break.

Get some fresh air. Have a stretch and go for another spurt.

7 Stop trying to do everything… outsource where possible!

Instead of trying to do everything and spending hours on what you're not good at, make your strengths stronger and outsource what doesn't light you up.

In the home you might outsource the ironing or cleaning or do online grocery shopping. If you have your own business, outsource bookkeeping or general admin.

Work your strengths.

8 Take downtime regularly

Nothing kills creativity and productivity faster than constantly being busy.

Busyness is not the same as being productive and if you find yourself constantly saying 'I'm so busy' yet not achieving as much as you want and wondering where your time disappears, chances are you've fallen into the trap of busyness. Take a minimum of five minutes each day to just stop and take a break.

Create space in your mind and body to be still. We're not here to rush through life, it's not a sprint so taking five minutes (or more) will actually do wonders for the quality of your life.

9 Plan your meals ahead

Your body needs good quality fuel for energy.

Planning your meals ahead for the week means you can cook quick and healthy meals, which will give you the energy you need to get more done.

It's hard to get motivated to go for a walk or workout when you feel tired and lethargic or you have a heavy meal sitting in your stomach.

A simple way to do this is have a list of seven to eight meals you can cook with chicken, beef, lamb, fish and vegetarian options (amend for your diet).

For example for chicken, you could have different dishes including chicken curry, chicken pie, pan-fried chicken, chicken stir-fry, homemade chicken Kiev and chicken casserole. Do this for beef, lamb, vegetarian and fish too. Then each week, rotate so you have plenty of variety. This also helps you to save money at the supermarket and prevent food wastage.

10 Know your own energy cycle and work with it

There are many books out there proclaiming the advantages of waking early but if you're a night owl, this won't work for you. Understanding and working with your own energy cycles will help you to be far more productive.

Even if you have set working hours, get a better understanding of when you work more effectively and this will help you to achieve higher levels of productivity. For a day, monitor when you feel most energetic and aim to get the most important work done in that time.

11 Get fresh air every day

Many people live in boxes, work in boxes, work in front of a box and then spend their evenings in front of yet another box.

But doing this day in and day out with limited opportunities for getting out into nature, even if it's just a walk around the street, can be highly detrimental for your mind and body.

Every time you take a break, make sure it's a break where you can get some fresh air. Breathe it in deeply and enjoy the extra burst of energy your brain and body will get.

12 Do a digital detox

It's official. Technology is taking over our lives. Gone are the days when your phone was just a phone. Now it's a mini computer in your pocket.

It can be great to have so much access at your fingertips but when it becomes a hard habit to break, it's time to detox. If you find it hard to leave the phone in the other room and you're constantly checking it, try doing a detox for a couple of hours and build up to a day or more.

Taking regular digital detoxes can be profoundly inspiring - between reclaiming your time and realising you've missed nothing in the meantime!

13 Watch one hour less of TV

You don't have to be a complete puritan and get rid of TV completely.

Simply watch one hour less each day and you'll be amazed at what you can get done.

Read that book you've been meaning to. Cook that lovely dinner and talk with your family. Go for a walk after dinner. Go to the gym. Meet up with a friend.

14 Empty your head before bed

Many people go to sleep with their to-do lists rattling around in their heads.

This can lead to broken sleep and your body doesn't get the rest you need. Effectively, you're still working. Keep a notebook close by to jot down ideas so when you do think of something, you can write it down and relax knowing you'll handle it in the morning.

15 Get enough sleep

Arianna Huffington is on a mission to help people get more sleep. In her book The Sleep Revolution, she advocates more sleep as the biggest enhancement tool. She even advocates naps to help you be on top of your game.

Reading biographies of great leaders who proclaim they only need four to five hours sleep a night can be damaging as people see this as a standard to work towards when in fact getting seven to eight hours a night will help you to be healthier and more productive.

* Yasmin Vorajee is the creator of Tiny Time Big Results and can be found at

* Yasmin has teamed up with Knorr for the launch of its new Pan Cook seasoning range. For Knorr Pan Cook recipes visit

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