One of the issues experienced by survivors and those who have not experienced brain injury first hand, is we are all constrained by the number of hours in a day. Some people use the majority of their 24 hours sleeping, eating, napping, working, volunteering, playing, snacking, watching television, exercising, learning, or sharing. Other people divide their time evenly or unevenly among many activities. As described in an earlier post, some people are too overwhelmed by the options that they make no decision about how to spend their time. Regardless of how you choose to spend your time, there is a possibility you could spend your time more efficiently.
There is plenty of evidence that time management is a significant problem. For example, if you search for the phrase ‘time management’ in any of the popular web browsers, you will receive more than 200 million results. A search on Google results in 1.94 billion hits. There are thousands of books, videos, webinars and seminars that address the topic of time management. Although each time management expert may focus on a specific management strategy, the two facts shared by all the experts include a belief that people mismanage their time and a solution to time mismanagement exists.
To improve time management, I recommend the following actions:
- Prioritize your activities.
- Plan for tomorrow, today.
- Sleep when you are tired.
- Take medicine as prescribed by your doctor.
- Avoid using stimulants to stay awake.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes per day at least five days per week.
- Check your email and social media accounts briefly, no more than three times per day.
- Avoid multitasking and interruptions.
- Be flexible.
Due to the length of this article, I will divide the content into two or more posts.
Click here to read the next post in the Time Management 101 series.
Prioritize Your Activities
This solution addresses two problems – the need for a To Do list and a strategy for completing tasks on the list. Many people simply exist without knowing what they are trying to accomplish. In other words, they either do not have an accurate To Do list or they do not reference the list. In addition, those who have an accurate To Do list and refer to it regularly might complete activities from their list in order of simplicity or in alphabetical order. The problem with completing activities in order of simplicity or letter is that you may complete several activities that are not urgent then have no energy to complete the urgent activities.
My suggestions are to:
- Create a To Do list for every day including weekends and holidays.
- Refer to the list regularly throughout the day.
- Prioritize every activity on the list in terms of urgency.
- Complete activities on the list in order of their urgency.
Plan for Tomorrow, Today
Before you go to bed each night, create a prioritized To Do list for the next day. This step is extremely important because it trains your brain to think about the things you want to accomplish, it teaches your brain to think in terms of priorities, and it ensures you have a reasonable plan for the next day from the moment you get out of bed.
Sleep When You are Tired
Many people believe that they can simply push forward to complete a task when they are tired. Although this strategy may work, it is certainly not a great time management strategy. When fatigue starts, productivity drops tremendously. What you could achieve in one hour if you were alert may require several hours to complete if you are tired. A general rule is you need at least eight hours of sleep every day. If possible, take a short (one hour or less) nap when you are tired or simply walk away from what you are doing, stretch a little, and think about something else. Working only when alert is a great time management strategy.
Do you have a written list of activities you want to complete for each day of the week? Does your list contain only SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time sensitive)? Have you prioritized the activities on your list in terms of urgency? Are you looking at your list regularly? Are you planning your day based on your priorities? Are you pushing yourself to complete tasks while you are tired or do you sleep when you are tired?