Tag Archives: time management

Time saving tips for busy people

Article by Belinda Fuller

Time saving tips for busy peopleIf you’ve recently returned to work after time off caring for young ones, you’ll know what a juggle the whole children, work, home thing can be. Throw in some study and it’s an even bigger battle. Perhaps your children are older, you’re caring for elderly parents, or you might be a single parent with too much on your plate. There are lots of great time saving tips to help you cope.

Too much to do, with too little time is an all too common complaint. For most people, life is busy enough without making it even harder by cramming too much into the day. A big part of feeling more organised and saving time day to day is to simply de-clutter your life. That means taking stock of what you’re trying to achieve and working out whether it is actually necessary. Here’s some of our tips to save time while you’re working it out:

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff: With more than 25 million copies in print, the philosophy outlined by Richard Carlson in his bestselling book ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’ has touched many people. His views on putting things in perspective is great advice for parents navigating the day to day hustle with children. Sometimes, despite our best intentions, we need to let things go. I try as a parent to ‘pick my battles’. With children, there is often something to argue about, to say no to, to discipline about, or nag on, so pick your battles carefully, and just choose to let some things go – otherwise you may end up spending your whole life in a negative cycle.
  • Limit choices: This is especially important for young children where problems can arise if they’re given too many choices (which you can’t or simply don’t want to fulfil). Children can take ages to think about and decide on what they want if offered too many alternatives. By all means offer them a choice but limit it to just two. The same applies to adults – the fact is we spend a lot of time making decisions which could be avoided. A simple example is my weekday breakfast. I rotate three options every week – some weeks choosing the same every day and others rotating them. The important part here is that I have three tried and tested options that I enjoy, are healthy and keep me satisfied till lunch time. I still have a choice but I don’t spend any time thinking about what I’m going to have. This strategy can be applied across many more aspects of our lives.
  • Plan your day: Preferably this should be done the night before – work out who needs to be where at what time, pack bags, get lunches ready, put clothes and shoes out, get breakfast items out, write ‘to do lists’ – whatever it takes to help you get out the door in the morning. My experience is that children are SLOOOWWWW in the morning. If they have a little routine they can follow with only a few expectations, everyone will be calmer and things will run more efficiently. At first, it can seem overwhelming to be doing this planning at the end of a busy day when you just want to sit down, relax or go to bed! Dedicate just five minutes to doing whatever you can get done and once you start you will be surprised at how quickly and easily it can all be done. You’ll save way more time in the morning than it took to actually prepare the evening before and it will be worth it!
  • Plan your shopping: Keep an ongoing shopping list – when you run out of things, add it to the list so you don’t have to think about it when it comes time to shop. I recently downloaded an app called ‘Our Groceries’ and it’s a lifesaver. It allows you to share your list with others and whenever something runs out you simply add it to the list straight away. When it comes time to shop, your list is ready to go and you don’t buy unnecessary items. No more calls from my husband on the way home from work asking if we need anything from the supermarket and no more complaints from the teenagers about running out of things.
  • Plan your meals: This is a big time saver with many other benefits including better quality, healthier options, at a lower cost. The effort involved can seem daunting, but even just planning the accompanying parts of yours and/or your children’s lunches on a Sunday is a big time saver – putting aside some fruit, and getting other food like snacks out and wrapping or individually prepping them so they are ready to go straight in the lunch box saves so much time in a busy morning. Likewise evening meal planning is essential, so you’re not tempted to grab takeaway at the end of a busy day. There are lots of great online resources and Apps to help – here’s a few of my favourites: For recipes, try Clean & Green or Taste. For meal planning and recipe organisation, try Plan to Eat or a subscription service like Hello Fresh, which provides all the ingredients and recipes for simple, healthy meals that you cook yourself.
  • Diarise everything: Buy a big family planner or diary and block out daily commitments and activities for everyone. This allows you to see at a glance what your day looks like and how much time you’ve got to work with. It also helps you recognise if you really are trying to cram too much into your week and where you might be able to cut down.
  • Focus: I used to be a big fan of multi-tasking and pride myself on keeping multiple balls in the air! However, it’s been proven time and time again that this concept makes life more difficult. Try focusing on one thing at a time, and you will see significant improvements to your productivity. The only time this may be an exception is where you might be able to combine an activity that requires no active thought (such as travelling on public transport or as a passenger with someone else) with a simple task like reading or listening to a podcast.
  • Track your time: Spend a day or a week recording what you do each day – then eliminate anything that isn’t productive, delegate or outsource where you can, and consolidate similar tasks – often we do things out of habit that may not be 100% necessary.
  • Stick to routines: This is especially important for babies and young children but issues inevitably arise so be flexible. Following set routines most of the time ensures higher productivity. If you have tasks that have to be completed every day, or most days, try to complete them at the same time each day.
  • Put things away: Teach your children to do the same. How much time do you spend looking for things? I have a friend who gathers up items around the house once a week and puts them in a washing basket – at the end of the day whatever hasn’t been claimed (and put away) is thrown away. Brutal, but it works!
  • Say no: Over-committing is one of the biggest time wasters – both socially and in work situations. Know that it’s OK to not say yes to everything and set realistic deadlines so you don’t set yourself up for failure.
  • Take advantage of energy: Schedule complex tasks at times when your energy levels are at their best, and save the routine tasks for low-energy times.

Just do it! No matter how busy you are, you can create more time in your day with conscious effort. It might take some hard decisions but making a commitment to implement some (or all) of these tips is a great start.

If you have been struggling to find time to get your career on track, our Career Advisors can help! For more information, please see our Career Coaching and Job Search Coaching Services.

10 Time Management Tips to Improve Your Productivity

Article by Belinda Fuller

Too much to do, with too little time to do it is an all too common complaint. We all need more time in our day, or so we think, but there are things we can all do to make better use of our time. Here are 10 tips:

1. Diarise everything – block out all your daily commitments in a diary (electronic or paper, whatever suits you) – include work and personal appointments; social engagements; children’s/family activities if they apply; and exercise or down time. You can see at a glance what your day looks like and how much time you’ve got to work with.

2. Track time – spend a day or a week recording what you do each day – then eliminate, delegate and consolidate. Eliminate anything that isn’t productive, delegate where you can, or consolidate tasks – often we do things that may not be 100% necessary.

3. Focus – I’m a big fan of multi-tasking BUT sometimes you need to just focus on one task at a time – try it and I guarantee your results and productivity will improve.

4. Plan your day – check your emails and write a ‘To Do List’ first thing (or last thing) every day. You can set this up as part of your electronic diary, or simply use a pen and paper. The important part is to highlight urgent tasks then plan your day before you start to ‘work’. Prioritising your work this way helps you work more proactively, and there’s something so satisfying about ticking off tasks as you complete them!

5. Establish routines – issues do arise so you need to be flexible, however if you follow set routines most of the time you will be more productive. If you have tasks that have to be completed every day, or most days, try to complete them at the same time.

6. Set time limits – for me, the Pomodoro Technique is fantastic (you can read more about it here). Even if you don’t study this technique, setting time limits for tasks is great for time management. You get stale if you work on the same thing for too long and sometimes coming back to it later helps you see things more clearly. This might sound like a contradiction to number 3 but the idea is that you should complete the task in the ‘time limit’, however don’t beat yourself up if you don’t – simply move onto your next task and feel your energy levels (and productivity) soar. This is also a good strategy for large projects or tasks you procrastinate about – break them into smaller chunks, set time limits, and just get it done.

7. Switch off – you don’t need to always be contactable. Turn your phone off to allow you to work uninterrupted and check/respond to email at certain times. I don’t answer my phone after 5.30pm, however I listen to messages and call back if it is urgent – usually it can wait until morning. Same goes for emails – most people don’t expect an immediate response every time. Closing email to work uninterrupted at certain times throughout the day will also boost your productivity.

8. File things – set up systems and create and follow rules and document naming conventions so you don’t waste time looking for them.

9. Don’t over promise and learn to say no! This can sometimes be difficult in a work situation, but setting realistic deadlines is an important part of good time management so try not to set yourself up for failure.

10. Know when you’re at your best – and take advantage of it. I know my energy levels are at their peak first thing in the morning so I schedule all my complex tasks for then. Work out when your peak is and get the ‘hard stuff’ done. Save the routine tasks for low-energy times.

Just do it! No matter how busy you are, you can always get more organised. Take some time to implement some (or all) of these tips and see if you feel like you have a little more time in your day.

If you have been struggling to find time to get your career on track, you may like to consider getting career advice from one of our experienced Career Coaches. For more information, please see our Career Counselling Services.