How to manage time if you have too much on your plate?

I think most of us have at some point wished that there were more hours in a day. Or perhaps that there were pills that taught you how to manage time? Unfortunately, it isn’t quite as easy. However, it doesn’t have to be too hard either, if you just get the right management tools.

I recently read an article that distinguished between clock-time and real-time. This is a new approach that I haven’t thought of before, but which I find genius. Clock time is specific: 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour and so on. Real time on the other hand is relative and created in your mind.

For example, we have all experienced the feeling that time flies by whenever we do something we love, while it seems to be dragging slower whenever we do something we dislike. The latter reality is all dependent on our perception of the time and is not related to clock-time per se. This links back to the talk by Isaac Lindsky on what reality we are creating for ourselves in the way that everything we create, such as the real-time, we are also capable of managing.

“Don’t stare yourself blind on all the things you have to do, but rather focus on the time where you have nothing in particular planned”

I have always been a visual person in the way that I visualise concepts to make them more reachable and understandable. Thus when it comes to time I have always visualised it as a colourful schedule in my mind. Usually I also transfer the schedule onto a paper to make it even more concrete. The whole process is calming in the way that it generates a feeling of control of your time and of the things that you have to do.

Wherever there is no colour it means free space for you “to do you”. If we focus on this empty space, stress is released from the previous blindness of the seemingly never-ending to do list, which also have the fantastic effect of increasing productivity. This is one example by which you can create more real-time for yourself, you should try it out!

Manage your time and DON’T PROCRASTINATE

Nevertheless, it’s not enough to simply have a schedule and a to-do list to improve your real-time-management. You also have to be conscious of not procrastinating. We all love to procrastinate! Some may think that I am some super productive machine, but I am really not. I have just learnt by experience that the more I procrastinate, the more I see those empty time-slots shrink. In other words, it means that the time I will have to create my embroidery, drawing, scrapbook or article will be smaller than what I intended it to be. Furthermore, I have, also by experience, realised that I produce shitty work if I for example sit up the night before the deadline and try to push out an essay.

However, be realistic. Perhaps you can already in advance consider some of your blank slots as procrastination backup. Or they can be backup time in case something unplanned occurs – which happens constantly! Thus, as soon as you receive a task, make sure to get it started regardless of how far away the deadline may seem. To be a bit ahead of time prepares you both for unexpected events, more urgent tasks as well as unproductive and unmotivated days.

Save yourself from excess work 

As a person with multiple things on my plate (as most others), I have had to improve my efficiency. Especially when it comes to time at school. At the start of the semester, you know that you will have a certain amount of lecture-hours. Make sure to take excessive amount of notes during that time and try to not space out… The latter is a note to myself (I am an expert on spacing or like I prefer to call it, “Creative reflection time 😉 “).

By having a lot of notes, you minimise the time you will have to spend on doing research, exam-prep or essays. Good notes doesn’t only guide you on structure and content, but they also indicate what your Professor considers the most important.

The science of taking notes  

The efficiency of note-taking doesn’t only apply to students, but also to employees in various fields. If you take notes on meetings, you will be able to go back to them for reference and thereby saving yourself time. In James Clear’s  article on reading comprehension strategies, he emphasises simultaneous note-taking. Notes will always allow you to return to the lecture or meeting again.

Some argue that it’s too difficult to multitask by writing notes and listen or read in the same time. However, it’s just as hard to remain 100% focused for a 1.5 hour lecture or meeting and then leave it up to your memory to remember everything that has been said. Especially in today’s society of constant interruptions!

Studies show that just a single sms or Facebook message will break your concentration for 20 minutes. What if you receive a message involuntarily during your class or meeting? Your focus will have shifted from where you are to what might be written in the message.

I can personally find it just as irritating when your neighbour gets messages. I may be conservative – but the less media and disruption opportunities you have in your surrounding the better. Therefore I always take my notes by hand.

“Do things as soon as possible”

If you live in an expensive city such as Paris, you may find yourself in need of multiple incomes. This is another trigger for the importance to manage your time without hitting the wall in the process. If I didn’t stick to my strategy of “do things as soon as possible”, I would never be able to work as an artist, blogger or nanny at the same time as being a full-time student.

Thus if you find yourself in a situation where you seem to have no choice of all the tasks on your plate, at least try to turn the time in your favour by taking control over your real-time!



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