Do you find yourself filling up your schedule with work, even when you have a chance to enjoy some free time?
If you’re frequently swamped with to-dos, and whenever you have some space in your calendar you feel the need to fill it to avoid feeling like you’re slacking off, the problem probably ISN’T your schedule. It’s how you manage your time, in your calendar and in your mind.
How manage your time in your calendar
If you just go with the flow, work on each task for as long as it takes, and keep working until you’re through your to-do list, you’ll probably reach the end of most days with chores left undone and questions about where the time went.
Instead, here’s a simple, effective method you can use to get all your work done during your working hours, so it doesn’t spill over into your free time:
At the end of each work day, look at tomorrow’s to-do list. Determine:
Which tasks are the most important, and will take the most energy and brainpower.
- How long each task will take?
- How long you can concentrate without getting distracted?
- Assign each task a chunk of time. Put the most difficult ones in the hours when you tend to have the most energy, and the easiest ones during the times when you’ll be tired or distracted.
- Discipline yourself to make the best use of your time. Don’t give any one task a stretch of time that exceeds your attention span, and if a task takes longer than expected, don’t let it eat into other tasks’ time unless it HAS to be done today. Reschedule the remainder the chore, and move on to the next one.
- Schedule a brief break between tasks. Because you now have a deadline on each action step, you’ll be concentrating harder and working faster, so give yourself 5-15 minutes between each job to clear your head, grab a snack, go to the bathroom, or whatever else you need to do.
How manage your time in your mind
When you have some time for yourself, how do you feel?
Happy and at peace? Or guilty, like you’re failing to pull your own weight and you don’t deserve to succeed?
As a child, you may have heard things like,
“If you have time to play, you have time to get this job done.”
Or, “Look at all the energy you have! Why don’t you use it to do this chore?”
Your parents meant to instill a good work ethic in you, but what parents often don’t realize is that by telling these things to their children over and over again, they plant a belief in their child’s mind that taking time off is selfish or wrong.
This can lead you to fill your free time with extra work, or to work slowly at the end of the day so your last few chores take forever, and you’re spared the feelings of unworthiness and guilt that plague your free time.
So the next time you have some free time, notice what you start to feel. If you feel guilty, be aware that it isn’t because you’re neglectful or irresponsible. It’s because, as a child, you adopted beliefs that don’t serve you.
Taking time to rejuvenate is good, not just for you, but for everyone around you. It sets a healthy example for your children, makes you more pleasant to be around, and enables you to work more efficiently… which means you get even more free time as a reward.
About the author:
Stephanie O’Brien is a copywriter, marketing coach, novelist and self-growth addict. She uses her twelve years of fiction-writing experience to make her writing fun and inspirational as well as effective, and her lifelong study of success and self-growth to help you cultivate the habits and mindsets you need to succeed. To learn more about Stephanie, visit her website at www.captivatingcopywriter.com.