Find Time for Better Things with These Time Management Tips

by Judy Camp

Learning what not to do is the most important part of time management. In order to have time for what you deem important, you need to learn to say no to time wasters. Take a good, hard look at how you spend your time now, and what you wouldn't miss. Do you watch TV shows you've already seen, or don't really like that much, just to have something to do? Do you allow neighbors or friends to monopolize your time, spending an hour or more on the phone, when you get little out of the conversation? Do you find yourself spending hours on a video game or computer? Do you find yourself agreeing to take on other people's work, or volunteering for things that give you little in return?

Identifying these time wasters is your most important time management skill. Next, learn to delegate as much as possible. Teaching your children or others in your life to be more self-sufficient will be great for them in the long run. But it will be great for you right away, because you will be freed up for the things that will truly make a difference. Here are a few other time saving techniques:

• When handling paperwork, try to handle each paper just once, especially if the job can completed in two minutes or less. If not, be sure to put it in the best spot, and, for more complicated tasks, add a sticky note reminding you where you left off. It could save 15 or more minutes later on.

• Keep your daily gadgets in the same spot every time. Do you spend five or ten minutes every day hunting down pens, glasses, note pads, etc.? Just create a spot for them, and put them there each time. Keeping closets organized and getting rid of unused belongings will also help you find items in a flash.

• Combine trips. Keep lists of grocery and household items you need, as well as upcoming birthdays, and do your shopping all at once for as much as possible. It will save time and money, in fuel for your car.

• Limit the time you spend on the telephone and answering emails. Get on the "don't call list" at home, which limits calls from salespeople.

Find Time for Better Things

• Streamline your bills. Always keep unpaid bills in the same spot, and file them as soon as they are paid. Consider online bill pay or autopay from your checking account. You will not only save the time to pay the bills, but you will save the time and money to buy stamps and mail your bills, too.

• Allow yourself to feel good whenever you've completed a task, and take a few minutes to relax. Don't worry if things take longer than you thought, or they didn't come out perfect. Try to make organizing a positive experience. If things have gotten out of hand, it will take more time the first time to become productive. The important thing is to work toward better habits.

• Keep a short to-do list for things you hope to accomplish in the next day or two, and a longer one for everything you can think of. As you get most of the items on your short list done, create a new one, so the list is always around five items. I like to keep my short list on a sticky note. It can keep you from getting overwhelmed if you only look at five items at a time. Just review the longer list whenever you are searching for items to place your short list.

• When you've spent time organizing, and it's time to quit, leave yourself notes where you left off. If you don't have time to finish, make a quick checklist of what you had planned to do next, and leave it in a prominent place. That way, when you come back, you can start right up again. And be sure to organize often, breaking big jobs into smaller chunks. It will get easier each time.

• Go for multitasking. Start your laundry first, and do housework while it is washing. Delegate to other people before you do your own duties, so everyone is completing a task at the same time. Come up with a list of things you can do while watching television, including exercising, clipping coupons, doing your nails, sewing, etc.

Once you've cleared some time, spend at least half an hour a day on something you really enjoy, or will greatly benefit your life in some way. Play with your kids, enroll in that class you always wanted to take, pick up a musical instrument, exercise, learn about the stock market...whatever you decide means the most to you. Spend five quiet minutes each morning thinking of ways to improve your life, and you'll find yourself moving in that direction.


Judy Camp is the author of the book, Find Time for What You Love, which contains dozens of ways to find extra time in each day, and to find ways to spend that time that will catapult you toward your ideal life!

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