6 Top Tips for Time Management as a Busy Millennial
Learning to manage your time well has the highest ROI on any investment you could or ever will make. It can be the difference between success next week and success next year. It can be the difference between work/life balance and suffering under the weight of “to do’s”. Most of us have struggled with time management at one point or another, and many of us continue to. We live in a hyper-connected world, where it’s easy to procrastinate and mindlessly scroll Facebook for the sake of not diving into your next task. Not all work is pleasurable, but when you can figure out how to manage yourself and your time so that it gets done more efficiently, you’ll have way more room to enjoy life. I think this is a goal we can all agree on.
One of the top culprits behind wasted minutes is our usage of phones and social media. While necessary, and definitely also tools for building your business and brand, being strategic is key. You know when you’re not productively using these tools, and it’s up to you create some structure around time and purpose when utilizing them. Just for emphasis, recent research indicates that Millennials (and those age 18 to 36) spend an average of 17.8 hours a day with different types of media. That’s basically our entire waking existence. Again, while some of this time can be useful and necessary when used intentionally, that’s many hours you could have spent relaxing, enjoying life, and kicking back or taking names.
So, in honor of crushing the entrepreneurial game, and providing useful and meaningful ways to elevate your success, here are my top tips for managing your time well:
This is an art in itself, and the truth is that you have to find what works well for you. The universal standard, though, is to start small. Work with something you know you can accomplish, that’s grounded and real, and put a timeline on it that’s reasonable. In addition to encouraging you to complete tasks more efficiently, it’ll boost your confidence each time you do, providing a positive feedback loop so that you get into the habit of wanting to impress yourself. Find ways to hold yourself accountable to these goals, write them down, be totally committed to them, and see where it takes you. Make sure you reward yourself in an incremental way each time you tick off your achievements. Keep track of them, so that next time you’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, you can see how far you’ve come and know that you’ve got what it takes to keep going.
There’s always going to be something you don’t want to do. A good trick is to either do it first, or to do something you find pleasurable, that’s a simpler task, and dive into the more challenging one after. Either way, whatever seems to cause you the most stress is probably what you want to accomplish first so that you don’t prolong it. Lists are far and away one of the best ways to get things in line, and to paint a really clear picture of what you need to accomplish in an organized way. Often, we can put in full days of hard work, and totally miss out on major tasks simply because we got roped into something else. This promotes that looming feeling that you still “have so much to do”. There’s always going to be tons to do, so you might as well get the challenging stuff knocked out first when you have the most energy and are at peak performance. Prioritizing also affords you the superhuman ability to actually have time for fun while you’re growing, building, or dreaming up your entrepreneurial vision.
3. Staying Realistic//Procrastination
Often we overestimate how long it will take us to complete something. We get into our heads about how hard it’s going to be, how we don’t want to do it, and then find reasons not to. We might take a short detour to meet up with friends or scroll through Instagram, and that short detour turns into a few hours. Sound familiar? Procrastination is a tough cycle to break out of. While many of us work well under pressure, so saving things until the last minute can in some ways work in our favor, the worry that’s created by not just handling things when you have the time and space to do so is not going to keep you in top form. Getting into the flow of recognizing why and when you procrastinate will help you to break the cycle. Learning how you procrastinate also allows you to start to limit those activities until after you’re finished with the task at hand. It’s a definite truth that you can enjoy whatever you want to do after your projects with a more complete satisfaction than you can when you’ve bailed on something important. The key here is to not be hard on yourself, but definitely to reward yourself each time you commit to the integrity of not procrastinating.
4. Taking Mini Mind-Breaks
Sometimes, you might just need a breather. We’re more efficient and clear-headed workers when we take short but semi-frequent breaks simply to shift our mind into a new headspace. It can be as simple as stepping away from your computer, taking a walk, or doing another activity entirely. Focused intensity is important, but it’s not sustainable when you don’t allow yourself a moment to pause. You can actually dive into whatever you’re doing with a hell of a lot more power and style when your brain isn’t fried. If you’re into meditation, it definitely helps with focus and concentration.
Nothing is real until it’s scheduled or written down is a general rule to live by when you’re balancing several projects, starting a business, or just generally trying to manage a modern lifestyle. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover between actual work, having a social life, being with our loved ones, and taking care of ourselves with exercise and enjoyment. It’s hard to accomplish it all without a plan in place, and that’s where scheduling is your best friend. Whether it’s a ten minute phone call, a newsletter that needs to go out, or a board meeting — make sure it’s scheduled. In your phone, on your calendar, and even in a planner if you’re kicking it old school. Whatever you need to do to be clear about what’s happening for you day to day, so that you can fit all of your priorities in, is key. I recommend even scheduling gym time, free time, and dinners. Though it might sound tedious to some to implement this much structure, it is actually freeing. You don’t have to think about what the next thing is or when you can squeeze something in, because you’ll already have it planned out.
6. Stashing Your Phone/Social Feeds
As much as is feasible, keep your distractions to a minimum. This is a pretty obvious one, but most of us live with our smartphones as an additional appendage to our hands. There are definitely times when texting or tweeting are not necessary and are being done mindlessly. Anything and everything should be done with an intention behind it, otherwise it’s a waste of time. So, find ways to manage your device usage. Maybe you only take your phone out on breaks if it works for you. Maybe you only check social media twice a day if that works for you. We get tons of unimportant notifications, and things that don’t require our immediate attention, shot at us in every direction. That 18 hours we spend engrossed in media? That’s the same amount of time some people make hundreds of thousands of dollars in, doing what they love. What’s the differentiator? It’s not necessarily skill, talent, or luck — it’s managing time well.
While time management isn’t the sexiest of subjects, it’s one of the most necessary building blocks of becoming a successful entrepreneur, but also a successful person in any walk of life. I define success not just in financial or business terms, but also in having the incredible opportunity to live a fulfilling life you love and being able to spend time with the people you love while also doing work you’re passionate about. One of the key ways to getting there is knowing what you want and acting on it — and you’ll get there much sooner if you’ve organized your time well.