You know that saying that talks about how Beyonce has the same amount of hours in a day as you? I hate that saying. Beyonce has a team of people waiting on her hand and foot. She literally has people cook for her, clean for her, take care of her kids, drive her everywhere, do her hair and makeup, dress her, organize her schedule, and so much more.
Meanwhile, you and I still have to do all those things, but with no help at all.
Life. It really isn’t fair!
There is nothing we can possibly do to add a single second to our day. The best we can do is adjust and adapt to the 24 hours we are given. That’s way easier said than done.
I know for me, I feel like I am constantly trying to do all. the. things. In a single weekday, I have to go to work at my day job, go to class for my master’s program, teach English to college students, work on my e-commerce business, and work on my blog. Also, at the time of writing this article, I am planning my wedding! On top of all that, I still have to cover the basics like, eat, sleep, get ready/unready, and socialize with family/friends. Whew! What a day.
So many people deal with busy, stressful, overwhelmingly impossible days. Somehow we still manage. That doesn’t necessarily mean we like it or are doing our best at it, but we manage because we have to.
Wouldn’t life be easier if we weren’t just barely getting by all the time? What if we actually had a system to all our madness that made our lives easier?
Technically, there is a way. It’s called time management. I know we have all heard of time management, but how do you actually manage your time wisely when you are a full-time person?
Time management can actually be pretty easy once you know exactly what you need to do. If done correctly, it can completely change the game and make life so much easier.
Here are my 12 easy time management tips for full-time people.
1. Prioritize everything
Sometimes the reason we feel like we have so much to do is because everything seems of equal importance. The truth is, there are more important tasks than others.
Some tasks need to be completed that day. Other tasks can be completed later in the week. And, other tasks can be put aside entirely. Not everything should be seen as an A task. Some things are simply B and C tasks.
I like to make a list of everything I need to do in a day or a week. Then, I put them in order from most important to least important. Some items will be tied for most important, which is completely fine.
Then I can eliminate anything that can be completed at a later time so that my priorities are clear.
2. Know when to say NO
It’s okay to say no, even if you want to say yes. If you have tasks that are a priority, sometimes you have to sacrifice hanging out with friends or relaxing in order to get things done.
Saying no to friends (or even family) can be difficult, but if you want to make the most out of your day, sometimes saying no is what’s best for you and your future.
Time is limited. There is no use in saying ‘yes’ to things you don’t want to do.
Remember, your time is YOUR time which means you need to stop saying yes just to be a people pleaser. Sometimes our biggest distractions come from those closest to us.
It’s okay to turn friends down every once in a while in order to work on your goals and priorities. Your friends will understand.
This doesn’t mean you have to cut off friendships and cause problems with your loved ones, it simply means that it’s fine to pass up on hanging out in order to manage your time better.
Keep in mind you also need to learn to say no to yourself.
Sometimes (most times) working is not fun. Something else more exciting might come along but you first need to consider how it will affect your time management schedule.
3. Make a to-do list
I am a huge fan of creating lists and usually have a ton of lists going on at a single time. I have a list for personal to-do items, business items, a shopping list, and so on.
To-do lists are extremely useful for visualizing everything you need to accomplish.
Have you ever had so many things to do that you don’t end up doing anything? I know I have. Often, this happens because we feel like there is no way to tackle the current overwhelm we are dealing with. The easiest way to go about this is to make a list of everything you need to do.
This way you can start to prioritize your tasks and visualize what you need to do in order to be and feel successful.
The other reason I love lists is because it is proof that I always have something to work on. If I ever run into some free time, which doesn’t happen often, I can refer to my list get work done.
4. Eat the frog
If you aren’t sure what that means, it’s a quote by Mark Twain that says, “If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.”
The idea behind this is that if you dedicate each morning to doing your hardest task first, you can continue with your day knowing that your toughest task is done and over with.
It’s the same concept with time management. If you schedule your toughest tasks first, and preferably first thing in the morning, the rest of your day can be dedicated to smaller and easier tasks that will hopefully take less time to complete.
5. Avoid/eliminate distractions
Recently in my Medieval literature class, my cohorts and I were praising Medieval writers for how much they accomplished in their (often short) lifetimes. These guys and gals not only wrote tons of material, but they also had jobs and families, like many of us.
So, what sets them apart? Why were they able to accomplish so much in their lifetime? My Professor asked us that very question and immediately I shouted, “They didn’t have any distractions like cell-phones and social media”. I originally intended that comment as a joke, but everyone quickly agreed with me.
In our current society, we have so many distractions. Just getting on my laptop to write this blog post I checked Instagram, Facebook, email, Pinterest, my e-commerce sales, my blog analytics, and THEN I started my blog post, only to quickly stop to write a text message. Whew! So many things! And that was all in the span of a few minutes. Imagine how many distractions we allow in the span of 24 hours.
While it’s impossible to avoid all distractions 100% of the time, we can minimize them.
What I like to do to help with this is to make a list of all the things I engage in during the day that hurt my time management. From there, I start to cut out all the dead weight.
Over the past few years, I have cut out the following in order to have better time management:
- TV – I only watch documentaries that can act as background noise while I work. The only exception to this is Game of Thrones. I mean, Winter is Coming and I have to know what happens!
- Pointless apps – I used to have candy crush, temple run, bejeweled, diner dash, and whatever else was a popular phone game at the time. Not anymore. Games on your cell-phone are so distracting. I deleted them all and never looked back.
- Hanging out too often – Okay, this one might sound weird, but I like to schedule the times I hang out with friends wisely. After all, I am in school and I work full-time, so I can’t just hang out every day. My solution to this is to hang out once during the week and once during the weekend. That might mean I am hanging out all day on a Saturday with different friends. Either way, I will dedicate a specific day to be my hangout day and I (usually) stick to that.
- Doing too much – I love to be busy. This often leads to me wanting to do everything. I once listed out all the things I was working on at a single time and it legitimately shocked me: work, school, blog, e-comm biz, wedding planning, learning Spanish, and screenwriting. There was no way I was succeeding at all of that because I could hardly make time for each of those things in a single day. Something(s) had to go. I ended up deciding what was the most important to me and I cut the rest.
- Music in the mornings – This might be a personal quirk, but I get less done when I am listening to music because all I want to do is dance. This tended to lead to unproductive mornings of me dancing and singing instead of blogging and homework. About 6 months ago I replaced music in the morning with audiobooks and that has lead to a much more productive morning.
6. Don’t procrastinate
Easier said than done. I totally get that.
Procrastination is way easier than getting stuff done. After all, why work when you can watch Netflix or scroll through Instagram?
Well, if you are a full-time person who has a never-ending list of things to do, procrastinating is your worst enemy.
Part of successful time management is mentally preparing yourself to put in the work that you need to do in order to achieve success.
After all, the sooner you accomplish a task, the sooner you can cross it off of your to-do list.
Besides, you probably want to feel good about yourself at the end of the day. If you spent all your time watching reality TV instead of working toward your dreams, you probably won’t feel too pleased with yourself.
Half the battle of time management is self-discipline. Like I said earlier, it’s easier to do what feels like fun. It’s more difficult to do work, especially if you are the only one holding yourself accountable.
7. Evaluate your time
Have you ever taken the time to figure out what your time is worth? It’s kind of difficult to actually put a number on what your time is worth, but I think we can all agree that our time is worth something.
Think about it this way, there are 24 hours in a day. 7 or 8 of those hours are for sleeping and then another 8 or 9 is for working a full-time job. You also have to factor in time for getting ready/unready, eating, and family time.
That leaves roughly 5 hours left to work on your to-do list. That’s it. 5 hours!
All of a sudden your time is way more valuable and time management becomes way more important.
That’s why I highly encourage you to NOT waste your time doing things that don’t align with your goals. If you constantly remind yourself of the worth of your time, it will be way easier to stick to your time management schedule.
8. Decide what activities qualify as time well spent
Remember when I said I made a list of all the things I was trying to work on at the same time? It looked like this: work, school, blog, e-comm biz, wedding planning, learning Spanish, and screenwriting.
If I wanted to accomplish anything, something had to go. I ended up eliminating learning Spanish and screenwriting (enter sad face emoji here) in order to focus on building my blog. I even had to cut way back on my e-comm biz, especially since it is practically on autopilot now. Obviously, work, school, and wedding planning are things I can’t ignore, but when I cut back on all the other things I was working on, I was able to outline my time better and have a better grasp on time management.
The reason behind my decision was the fact that I figured out what was most valuable for my time. To do this, I referred to my goals list and decided that I should only work on the tasks that will get me closer to my goals. This was an easy decision to make and my time is spent much wiser these days.
If you want to learn how to set easy and attainable goals, check out this blog post: The Ultimate Guide to Setting Goals
9. Utilize every minute
Okay, not literally every single minute, but utilize most of your minutes.
If you are a full-time person, you are likely working a day job, going to school, taking care of a family, and so on. That means that your time is extremely valuable.
Personally, I love to use the weekend to get ahead on the things I can’t get to during the week. Think about it this way. There are 52 weekends in a year (Saturday & Sunday). That’s 104 days to check things off of your to-do list and to spend your time getting important things done!
Sometimes after a long day at work during the week, our minds just want to shut off and not think about anything. Maybe you are able to focus better on the weekend. Give it a try and see what happens.
10. Don’t underestimate goal setting
Like I always say, goals are gold.
There is no problem with setting goals and there is no rule that says you have to wait until January 1st to set goals.
A good tip for easy time management is to work on the tasks that work towards your goals. That way you aren’t wasting time on things that don’t align with your purpose.
For example, if your goal is to deep clean your entire house in a month, you should spend the bulk of your time doing activities that work toward that goal. That would mean that your to-do list is full of tasks related to cleaning.
The same goes for working on a side hustle. If your goal is to start a business within 6 months, the majority of your tasks should work towards your goal of starting a business.
11. Get rid of bad habits
The first thing you need to do is decide what your bad habits are. Maybe you spend too much time on social media or maybe you don’t finish anything you start. Whatever it is, it needs to be identified.
Once your bad habits are identified, figure out what you are going to do to cut them out of your life. It might not be easy to cut them out right away, but as long as you are aware of your bad habits and are actively working towards getting rid of them, that is a good start.
If you can get rid of your bad habits, you can spend more positive time on the things that matter, thus increasing your time management skills.
To read more about habits, check out the posts below!
12. Declutter everything
There is a science behind our productivity in relation to how clean our area is. That is why I love to work on a clean desk and in a clean room.
It is such a waste of time to have to constantly be looking for your papers or having to clean off your desk/chair before you can start to work.
Instead, get rid of clutter altogether so that you don’t have to waste any more time.
One of my favorite sites for decluttering is myspacematters.com. This site goes over exactly how and what you should declutter. Trust me, decluttering is going to make a huge difference in your time management.
Related: 12 Easy Ways to Declutter Your Desk