I’ve been busy for as long as I can remember. Even as a young child, I played a number of sports and participated in many extracurricular activities. Fast forward to today and I am busier than ever, running a quickly growing business that requires more attention than a full-time job, being a part-time business student, working on gaining sponsors for a racecar, and attempting to keep somewhat of a social life intact. Some may think that I’m crazy for attempting to juggle all of these endeavors at the same time, but it’s not so difficult with proper planning and time management which was something I was never taught in school, but learned through plenty of trials and way too many errors.
I’m not the only one that has struggled with the curse of never having enough time in the day, but most of us in one facet or another suffer from not having enough time to accomplish all of the great things that we wish to do. However, the people who are successful in accomplishing their goals and ultimately who get more out of life, understand one essential rule, that time is by far our most valuable resource – even more so than money.
Unfortunately, time management is grossly overlooked as a topic to be taught in schools. During the many trials and errors that I have been through, I have been able to identify a few key factors that have greatly improved how I prioritize my time, essentially allowing me to be much more productive. Now that I’ve found a system that works for me, I want to share with you, a couple of the tips and tricks that I use to get the most out my time.
- Make a plan
The reason that we want to learn to manage our time more wisely is often because we have a lot of different things happening at any given time, but struggle to find time to do everything. The system that works for me requires me to set weekly, monthly, and yearly goals that build up to my ultimate long term goals. By breaking my goals down into periodic pieces, I am able to translate a bigger long term goal into smaller steps that I can easily track and accomplish each day. Then I start planning how I’m going to spend my time each day to accomplish those steps that I have listed for myself.
- Designate Time in your Schedule for Priorities
One way that I manage my time is by using what is called Time-blocking. Essentially this means planning blocks of time that will be dedicated solely on specific endeavors. Often times people run into problems trying to juggle multiple efforts at the same time. Multitasking can save time in the right situations, but can be detrimental to our productivity in other situations. By blocking off time slots in your schedule you are committing to focusing on your endeavor during those times with no distractions. When other opportunities arise that interfere with your time blocks, don’t be afraid to stay committed to your schedule. If you can’t decide whether an alternative opportunity is more worthwhile, try approaching your decision with this next tip.
- Opportunity Cost
The hard part about managing our time, once we know what we want to accomplish, is effectively prioritizing the limited time that we have to accomplish all of our short and long term goals. A trick that I have learned that has greatly helped me prioritize my time is to look at it from a monetary, more objective perspective. For example, when you work for $15 an hour, you essentially agree with your employer that one hour of your time is worth $15 in return. Now, if you have the choice of going to work for an hour and making $15, or going to help someone move for an hour and making $10, you would most likely chose to go to work for an hour if your purpose is make the most money. When you have multiple concurring projects in the works, you have to treat your time in the same way. Prioritize your time based on which projects are going to give you the most return. When opportunities arise that have a lower return than what your current projects provide, be comfortable with saying no. This topic is covered in business schools as opportunity cost and is often used as a tool for decision makers to prioritize business initiatives.
- Automate your Routine
Another way to save time on reoccurring tasks is to take Mark Zuckerberg’s approach, the CEO of Facebook, and currently the world’s 6th richest person. Mr. Zuckerberg simply wears the same outfit to work every day in order to save time instead of spending the time making unnecessary decisions on what to wear each day. This gives Zuckerberg more time and thinking power to dedicate towards other more important endeavors such as connecting the world through communications efforts.
There is always the option to “buy” more time for yourself as well; in the form of outsourcing. Once you have a good idea of how valuable your time is you can begin outsourcing simple tasks that take away time from more valuable priorities. An example commonly used is lawn care services. For me to cut the grass and tend to the yard of my home, I would need to spend about an hour per month. If I have decided that my time is worth about $30 an hour, and I can find a lawn care company to service my yard for $15, I will have saved an hour of my time each month. This time saving would cost me $15 in the short term, but I would save about $30 worth of my own time that should be spent elsewhere.
Not enough people fully understanding the importance of time and never learn how to effectively view and manage their time. If you want to set yourself apart by learning more about managing your time and how to get the most out of your day, there are resources available at UCF. I have found that the student academic resource center (SARC) at UCF holds time management workshops every few weeks and would probably be a great place to start. There is also a plethora of resources available by doing simple searches online from books to videos to templates for planners and prioritized lists. “They say time is money, but really it’s not. If we ever go broke girl, then time is all that we got and you can’t make that back.” – J Cole