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How to Make a Bad Day Better with These Easy Time Management Skills

It was only January 4th and already, my day had quickly turned around. My well-planned-out list of to-dos was hijacked by a siege of frustrating phone calls, calls that dropped or “failed” after 50 minutes of repetitious explanations, to start all over again, three times, with a new person tracking the details! Unnecessarily prolonged chunks of time, inexperienced customer service, and nonsensical pieces of information challenged my patient persona.

It was getting to the point of nightmarish dizziness.

Credit: Icon8 Team

Professional Organizers aren’t immune to the stuff that might spin your otherwise pleasant day, out of control. Notice, I say “might”.

The difference is, we’ve armed ourselves with knowledge on how to redirect a ridiculously whirling day and emerge triumphantly. Click To Tweet

YOU can too.

Disclaimer: This blog post may contain affiliate links. Keep in mind that I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you when you click my links and make a purchase. However, this does not impact my opinion in any way. I only promote brands I believe in and products that I use and love myself. I try my best to keep things fair and balanced to help you make the best choice for you.

Why Learn Time Management Skills in 2021

Our time is finite yet our tasks are infinite. For this reason alone, it’s important to maximize our productivity. Time management skills empower us to “work smarter, not harder”. It doesn’t matter how organized we are or how advanced our technology becomes, we only have 24 hours in a day. So, it’s the people who know how to effectively use that time who get the most value out of it. The truth is, we can’t manage time but we can manage ourselves – our habits, behaviors, and actions. This forms the basis of all time management skills.

Here are some valuable time management skills to cultivate in 2021:

Uncover How You Allocate Your Time

How you allocate the time you have is similar to managing your budget – you need to know where you spend your time in order to effectively use it. To do this, set aside a week for tracking your time. Note down how much time you spend on every activity throughout the week. Include random activities such as unplanned phone calls, like the one I recently had, so that you can factor in time for the unexpected. Also, note distractions, interruptions, and who is distracting and interrupting whom? You may be surprised. We can be the culprits of our own poor habits that steal the precious time we have to get things done.

At the end of the week, review your log and determine how much time is spent on high-priority activities (looking for employment, creating a home office, etc.) and how much is spent on time-wasters (social media/TV, etc.). This awareness of how you spend your time will give you insights into how you can use it more wisely.

Time Management Skills
Credit: Elena Koycheva

Prepare & Schedule

You can’t use your time efficiently without some amount of preparation. Take some time out at the end of each day to plan out and schedule all your tasks for the next day in your diary or planner. Make sure to leave space between activities so you have time to deal with the unexpected – you can’t plan for everything. Reschedule unfinished tasks and mark down the tasks to prioritize. Give each task on your to-do list a scheduled time-frame based on how long you expect it to take.

By setting your goals and intentions for the following day, your subconscious has time to process them as you sleep and you’re likely to wake up feeling motivated and inspired to follow through. Besides, knowing that you’re prepared for the following day will also help you sleep better at night.

Get an Early Start

Add hours to your day and watch your productivity soar by getting an early start. Most successful and organized people know the value of rising early. By going to bed at a reasonable hour and rising early, you can ensure a good start to the day. You can make your day even more productive and manage your time even better by cultivating a happy and mindful morning routine for you and your family that fits your lifestyle. When you don’t have to rush in the morning, but have adequate time to start your day off mindfully, things tend to go much smoother throughout the day.

Time Management Requires Organizational Skills

Time management skills are developed from organizational skills. You need organizational systems in place in order to manage your time effectively. Wasting time looking for missing items may seem insignificant but it definitely adds up if it happens regularly throughout your day or week. By creating and maintaining organizational systems, you work smarter, avoid frustration, and give yourself enough time to get things done. Check out these two guides on how to get organized in 2021 with tips from the best Organizing Professionals around the country.

Identify Your Productive Hours

Some people work best in the mornings, others in the afternoons, and some even work best late at night. The time that you’re most productive is dependent on your internal body clock, so it’s different for everyone. This is the time where you are most alert and productive. Listening to your body and identifying your most productive hours is the key to getting things done.

You may not be able to do everything during this time, but make sure to schedule your most important tasks for this time of the day (or night). Adjusting your to-do list and schedule according to your most productive time may take some work, but it’s one of the best time management skills and it’s available to everyone.

Delegate or Outsource

You may be superwoman to your family, but you can’t do everything. And, you shouldn’t be doing everything. Knowing when it’s time to outsource or delegate tasks is an important step in managing your time. Even the organizing experts know that there just isn’t enough time in the day to complete everything.

Go through your daily tasks or activities and determine which you can delegate or outsource to someone else. To decide on this, determine which tasks fall within your zone of genius (the tasks you do best and enjoy doing). Any tasks that don’t make the cut are ones that can be done by other people. You don’t need to do this all at once. Start with the task that is most time-consuming or that you really don’t enjoy and proceed from there.

Give Yourself a Break

We may be one week into a new year but that doesn’t mean the global situation has changed much. The pandemic isn’t over and the political tension hasn’t ceased. Be gentle with yourself and others and give yourself a break if you don’t develop effective time management skills right away. Focus on self-care, not just productivity, and don’t be afraid to say “no” if you feel overwhelmed. You can’t create efficient time management skills when you’re overloaded or feeling burnt out. Prioritize yourself too and not just your tasks.

Time Management Skills
Credit: Taryn Elliott

Summary

A bad day can happen to anyone – even the organizing experts. Difficult events or circumstances seem to arrive out of the blue, ruining a perfectly good day. By working on our time management skills we can feel better equipped to handle the unexpected.

To get the most mileage from your time, make a list of what you want to accomplish in the next 3 months. Prioritize that list. Now, focus on the top three goals or projects and leave the rest. That’s using your time wisely.

Use this guide to your advantage to learn some easy time management skills that will help you better deal with whatever comes your way this year.

How has your 2021 been so far?

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Time Management Skills

Comments 16

  1. Having calls with customer service drop after being passed around and repeating my story over and over is one of those things that does make me want to scream. The hours that are lost – ugh! Wonderful time tips, and I love the little owl video. (I’m a morning person, useless in the evenings…) I’ve become convicted about how much time I can lose when I’m on the internet. Just checking social media can become a bit of a habit, and before you know it, 1/2 hours has evaporated. I’m trying to more intentional about screen-free time.

    1. Seana, you’re the only one to mention that cute little owl. Young children love it and ask to see it over and over.
      I’m a morning person too. I start to fade by 8 PM and unless I push myself, I can’t stay up later than 11 PM.
      I think my biggest time waster is Instagram. I spend so many hours creating, posting and engaging. I often wonder if it’s worth it in the long run.

  2. Great tips! I am an early riser, and it really does help me get things done quickly when everyone else is asleep. It significantly reduces the number of interruptions I get in the morning. I also find that doing a few tasks on a Sunday afternoon, usually done on Monday, saves me 1-2 hours on Monday morning, which will ease the stress at the beginning of the week.

    1. Sabrina,
      I really like your ideas. I find spending a few minutes at the night before, going over what’s ahead the next day, really helps.
      You do so many things you have to be well organized. Balancing out your day makes all the difference.

  3. Ronni, you have captured the very essence of what it means to be an organized person. You advice is spot on. Figuring out how you spend your time, creating good routines and habits, organizing belongings, and taking care of yourself all lead to a more relaxed, successful, and productive life.

    1. I find that assessing where our time goes, keeping track of interruptions and distractions,is so key to better time management.
      I do agree with you that organization creates a more relaxed, productive and better life all around. I don’t know any other way.

  4. I’m sorry you had one of those days. I can only imagine how frustrating things must have been. But I love how you channeled your challenging day into a great post. You expressed the idea about our experience of time so beautifully – “Our time is finite, yet our tasks are infinite.” That is so true. Because we only have a certain amount of time on this planet, we need to be intentional about how we’re using our time. There will always be more things to do, places to go, people to see, and “life surprises” to handle. So being specific about what is essential or NOT is key to living a productive, purposeful life.

    I also like that while you’re advocating a certain amount of planning, you also reminded us to plan for parts of the year at a time- like the next three months. That also corresponds to the change of seasons. I find a lot of value in doing a seasonal evaluation and reset.

    I hope your week is going better—hugs to you, my friend.

    1. I did have a challenging day. But then, it was over. Except for sharing how frustrating it was to lose such valuable time,it offered a good opening story to my blog post about turning a bad day around with smart time management.

  5. Love this! Excellent suggestions. Thanks for putting this together in a concise and easy to digest format. I’m excited to share it with my followers.

    1. Sheri,

      Thank you so much and I’m glad it resonated with you. Sometimes we have to step back and look at how we spend our time. I’m a huge proponent of prioritizing.

  6. The day you describe is familiar to us all. I think the more we can delegate/outsource, postpone, or cancel what’s not essential (right now) for *us* to do, the more we can get a handle on the vagaries and whims of the modern “bad day.” Great perspective!

    1. I know everyone can relate to those days where you grind your teeth and your blood pressure takes a ride up hill.
      Bad days happen and how we handle them makes all the difference. I’m glad I was able to resolve the annoying situation, which should’ve taken 10 minutes, and took closer to 180.

  7. I’m a BIG fan of delegating and outsourcing when I can. No matter how productive one may think they are, it’s not possible to everything alone. I love all your reminders! Wonderful post.

    1. Melanie,
      Thank you! There’s just so much one person can do alone. Having a “team”
      mentality enables us to make better use of our time. It takes a village?

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