Time may have been on Mick Jagger’s side, but for most people, it’s more of an adversary than friend. Add work and family responsibilities to the need to build your career through additional education or volunteer activities and your daily allotment of 24 hours comes up short.
How can you squeeze everything you really need – and want – to do in the typical day? Here are six tips for getting it all done without losing your sanity:
- Make List No. 1: Start by making a list of all of your current responsibilities that cannot be changed. These will include your work hours, time spent taking kids to and from school, and other non-negotiable duties.
- Make List No. 2: Now make another list stating all of your short and long term goals, both personally and professionally. These may range from earning a higher educational degree to learning how to scuba-dive.
- Compare your lists: Once you have your lists in place, take a closer look at each of them and determine how you can fit the items on List No. 2 into your non-negotiable responsibilities on List No. 1. As you’ll most likely quickly realize, doing everything on List No. 2 is probably not possible.
- Prioritize: With more List No. 2 items than will fit, clearly it’s time to prioritize. For example, if one of your top career goals is to earn a higher educational degree, then certainly you will have to devote a large chunk of your free time to that endeavor. Writing everything down will help you see what you will have to give up in order to make it happen (i.e., some of the other things on List No. 2, such as learning to scuba dive).
- Learn to say no: Of course, life is not only about what you have to do and what you want to do. It is also about what other people expect or desire from you. In order to achieve the short and long term goals you have placed at the top of your priority list, you’ll have to learn how to say no when faced with activities that would interfere with their accomplishment. That probably means saying no to yourself as well (as in, “Facebook will have to wait”).
- Schedule in some free time: Don’t forget to budget downtime in your schedule. Everyone needs a chance to kick back and relax, and for some, that need is stronger than for others. If you know you won’t stick to your plan if you don’t have at least an hour or two each day to yourself, then budget in that hour or two and use it to recharge your batteries. You’ll get more done in the long run than if you overbook yourself.