February — the month when all my noble New Year’s resolutions of staying organized start to slip — is the perfect time to celebrate National Time Management Month and work on organizing my busy, sometimes hectic life. If I were to take a quiz to find out my “time management personality,” I’m pretty sure I would end up in the perpetual procrastinator category. So I asked myself, “How can I manage time?” and I realized I can’t. I may wish for more time but we only get 24 hours, 1,440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds each day. So I changed my question to “How am I using my time?”
Have you ever heard the saying “Time is like Money?” It’s true. Money and time are both valuable and unfortunately limited. The key to learning how to effectively manage your time is to realize that you are in charge. UGA Cooperative Extension recommends ten strategies for better time management.
• Know How You Spend Your Time. Do you really know how you are spending your time? Keep a “time log” for a week and you may be surprised where you spend your time and energy.
• Set Priorities. What is important to you? Now that you’ve analyzed how you are spending your time, make sure you are spending time on the things that matter most to you and your family.
• Use a Planning Tool. Calendars, To Do Lists, notebooks ... whatever works for you.
• Get Organized. Get rid of the physical clutter and it will help eliminate the “mental” clutter.
• Schedule Your Time Appropriately. For example, if you are most alert and productive in the mornings, block off that time for your most important task.
• Get Help From Others. Consider the task, is this something that you must do or can it be delegated?
• Stop Procrastinating. Consider breaking down overwhelming or unpleasant jobs into several small tasks with realistic deadlines. Reward yourself when you complete a task!
• Manage Time Wasters. Block off time periods when you are unavailable to take calls, read e-mails or play on social media. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you aren’t interrupted.
• Avoid Multi-tasking. Psychological studies have shown that multi-tasking does not save time! You actually lose time when switching from one task to another.
• Stay Healthy. Take care of yourself; make sure to set aside some time to exercise and time to relax. If you are sick, nothing gets done.
People who are good time managers tend to feel less stressed, have more energy, and feel better. So be proactive, learn how to manage your time and it will help you become more efficient at work and home. Join me in celebrating National Time Management Month ... let’s stop procrastinating, get organized,and take charge of a limited resource-time.
Mitzi Parker is Sumter County Extension agent/Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Contact her at 229-924-4476.