If you have a corporate job, you will be well aware of time management strategies and the necessity of being productive and efficient with your time. In the corporate context, the purpose is to maximize the value the company is getting out of you, but in your own life time management can help you maximize the value of how you spend your time. I've written some other posts on productivity, which you can check out here, but today I want to focus on scheduling and managing your time specifically.
- Use your commutes wisely -
Depending on how you commute, you can multitask in a multitude of ways. I like to listen to audiobooks or podcasts while driving to try to get a little extra reading or learning into my day. However, once I get on the train, I like to use that time to catch up on social media, to check email, to do all the little things it can be hard to find time to do during the day. In the evenings, I try to take some time to meditate on my train ride home. Use your commute to slot in things you want to do during the idle parts of your day, whether that is reading a book or working on your writing.
- Set up routines -
This one can be so tricky! It can be hard to establish new routines, especially for the first couple of weeks, but once they are established they can help you to make sure that you take time to do things that are important to you. This can be as simple as taking fifteen minutes to unwind and do your skincare routine every night or establishing a morning routine where you exercise, write, and get ready for your day. Finding a regular time to write can be helpful if you are the kind of person (like me) who thrives on structure.
- Every little bit count -
For the same reasons that I love routines, schedules, and planning, I can sometimes be too rigid with them. Sometimes, it feels like if I can't commit to a 90-minute writing session, then I might as well not bother. But that isn't true! Just because life doesn't go according to your plan doesn't mean that you need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Even if your routines are interrupted, you can generally find time to do a little bit. Spend 5 minutes on your skincare routine instead of 15, write for 20 minutes instead of 2 hours. Use the little pockets of time that you do have to move the ball forward on your goals, even if it is only by a few inches.
- Cut down on distractors -
I try to check social media on my morning commute, so I can spend less time checking it in the evening. Between Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, I can easily waste hours on the internet. If I want to dedicate more time to reading, writing, meditating, or whatever the case may be, I have to make a conscious effort to waste less time on my phone.
- Have some go-to options -
Do you ever have those mornings where it feels like you spend forever staring at your closet, not sure what to wear to work? That can definitely be me. I don't know if this is something you can ever get rid of entirely, but by having a few go-to outfits, I can cut to a default on mornings where making decisions is just too hard. While I gave the example of wardrobe, I think making it easier for yourself and cutting down on your options can help with a lot of life's little mundane tasks from getting dressed in the morning, to deciding what to cook for dinner. If you have a few go-to options, they can help save you some stress when you feel like you are suffering from decision-fatigue.
- Organize and minimize -
There are people that thrive on a bit of chaos, but I'm really not one of them. I like to organize and plan. I'm a Type A personality for sure. So, one thing that always helps me is to get organized and declutter. Having lots of clutter creates stress for me, so I try to periodically go through and declutter everything from my wardrobe to the files on my computer. It may seem silly to say that organizing and decluttering your closet can help your writing life, but if decluttering reduces your stress and makes it easier for you to go through your morning routine, then it puts you in a better frame of mind to work effectively.
- When to say no -
As much as you plan out your time, get organized, and use the empty spaces in your day, sometimes there literally isn't enough time. There will always be things you need to say no to. Sometimes it means saying no to some invitations, other times it may mean saying no to your normal routine to meet up with friends or go travel. There will never be enough time to do absolutely everything we want to do. We will always need to prioritize and that's okay.
These are just a few tips I've picked up over time and they definitely won't be for everyone. If you abhor schedules and the idea of using a bullet journal makes you itchy, then don't feel obligated to plan! You can still find little ways to spend your time more effectively, so you have more time to dedicate to the things you care about, like writing. If you have any time management tips, I'd love to hear them in the comments below!