How to Make Your Own Time: Practical Strategies for Busy Lives


While we can't physically create more hours in the day, we can certainly become more effective at managing our existing time. This article explores practical strategies to help you reclaim control of your schedule and carve out dedicated time for the things that matter most.


Identify Time Thieves


The first step to making more time is pinpointing where it's currently being spent. Here are some common time thieves to be aware of:


Multitasking: Contrary to popular belief, multitasking often reduces productivity. Our brains are wired to focus on one task at a time. Juggling multiple tasks can lead to errors and take longer overall compared to focusing on one thing and completing it before moving on to the next.


Social media: Social media platforms are designed to be engaging, and it's easy to lose track of time scrolling through feeds. Consider setting time limits or designated social media check-ins throughout the day.


Unnecessary meetings: Meetings can be valuable for collaboration, but not all meetings are essential. Evaluate the purpose of each meeting and politely decline those that don't directly contribute to your goals.


Perfectionism: Striving for perfection can lead to procrastination and hinder progress. Set realistic goals and deadlines, and don't be afraid to move forward with a "good enough" effort, especially for preliminary tasks.


Taking Back Control: Practical Strategies


Once you've identified your time thieves, you can implement strategies to reclaim control of your schedule:


Prioritization: Not all tasks are created equal. Use a prioritization framework like the Eisenhower Matrix to categorize tasks based on urgency and importance. This helps you focus on high-impact activities and delegate or eliminate less critical ones.


Timeboxing: Allocate specific time slots in your calendar for dedicated tasks. This technique helps you stay focused and avoid distractions during designated work periods.


Batching similar tasks: Group similar tasks together to minimize context switching. For example, schedule all your email responses for a designated time block instead of checking and responding to emails throughout the day.


The Pareto Principle (80/20 rule): The Pareto Principle suggests that roughly 80% of results come from 20% of causes. Identify the 20% of your activities that drive 80% of your results and focus your efforts there.


Specialized Techniques for Advanced Time Management


Beyond the basics, here are some advanced time management techniques to consider:


The Pomodoro Technique: This technique involves working in focused 25-minute intervals with short breaks in between. The structured intervals help maintain concentration and prevent burnout.


Time Blocking with Calendars: Utilize different calendar views to schedule your time effectively. For instance, block out dedicated work hours on your daily or weekly views, and use monthly views for appointments and social engagements.


Delegation and Outsourcing: If possible, delegate tasks to colleagues or outsource them to freelancers. This frees up your time for higher-level activities that require your specific expertise.


By implementing these strategies and identifying the techniques that work best for you, you can effectively reclaim control of your schedule and make more time for what matters most in your life.