Being able to maximize your time and balance tasks is critical for someone who feels that they are always busy. Finding the right system to keep you focused on the many, many, many, and many more things you need to accomplish will help you stay focused and be more productive.
Work needs done, house work needs done, family needs done, and whatever else you going on. It’s super easy to get caught up in a task and really let it over take your day, leaving you with little time to accomplish other things. I am really guilty of this, one of the biggest things that used to be an issue is letting work flow into my personal time. Time bucketing really helped me balance life a little better.
So where do you start…
Make A List
I started by writing down a list of everything I want to do each day and any other items I would like to accomplish. Then I categorize them. Home, Work, Blog, ect. I also set priorities by each item, critical, important, and optional. You can even do another level and add a way to measure daily, weekly, monthly, or one time. Whatever you need to keep things clear.
Write Out Your Schedule
Next, write out a list of the hours in a day. I like to do this in 15 minute increments. Then block out the times you know you will be busy. Sleeping, travel time to and from work, exercise, driving kids, whatever you have going on. I like to include work tasks along with personal tasks in one plan, you can do two different ones if it makes sense for you.
Fill In The Blanks
Now, take a look at what time you have available, and what type of tasks you can get done and when. If you have a work schedule then your tasks for work will be bucketed into those hours. Then fill in home, do you have a couple hours in the morning to get a work out and a 15 minute tidy. How, much time do you have when you get home to accomplish tasks. Here you can keep it general if it helps you. Example: “From 5PM-6PM Home To Do’s.” I do often try to start with things I want to do the least, because as the day goes on I tend to get less productive.
Your maximum productive time is something you should take into consideration if you have the option when creating a schedule like this. If you know you are more likely to work out in the morning because your fresh and if you get too busy later you won’t get to it, then make it first thing you do. If you think you are able to stay more focused between breakfast and lunch, then this may be a good time to really get that critical and important work stuff done.
Know What To Do When The Time Comes
Now, when you get to those time buckets its critical to know what you are going to do. I like to take a minute at the beginning of each day to look at my priorities for the day. Then again at the end of my work day to sort through what I am going to do tomorrow. I sort of color code my buckets with my to do list. So, for example, blue = work. So when I get to my first work time bucket from 9am – 10am, I will pick the top 3 things on my to do list that are blue. And for 1 hour I will not look at anything else, no email, no phone(except urgent issues), no distractions.
Then after that 1 hour is up, I’ll stop and take a look at where I am at. Did I finish everything? If not, then I move it to the next time bucket. If so, I probably started the next tier of tasks. For work, I usually only do 1 hour at a time, then take a minute check emails and my phone and see if anything needs addressed. Stretch and start my next hour.
Below is an example of a time bucket schedule I use as a time line. Combined with a notebook I use to jot down To Do Items as I go.
The key here is make sure you are focusing on what you should be and when you should be. When the time is up, move on. Don’t spend a lot of time spinning your wheels. Make sure to include at least 2 15 minute increments a day with just prioritizing your day so you are ready to get things done. This gives you not only a chance to be organized, but its a good way to kind of dump everything out of your brain so you don’t have to worry about what you are forgetting.
If it helps keep a notebook with you and jot stuff down as you think of it and your next priority session asses when you can complete it.