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Time Management: What, Why, How?

What is Time Management for me?

🧘🏻‍♀️ Instead of directly starting to plan your routine: For a few days/a week, keep track of how you spend your time right now. Make an hourly note or write down at the end of your day:

⏰ Time of day/time spent

📱 What you did

🧐 Why you did it/What the benefits were of that activity

🔄Whether you would like increase/decrease the time spent or make other modifications

💜This is not to make you feel guilty or to blame yourself for “wasting time”, this is only to get a picture of where you are spending time currently and what needs to change. Do you really need to manage time or do you need to declutter, plans your meals, organise your work-desk or books and papers, etc?

💙On that note, there is no “wasted time” per se because productivity is not the only worthy goal i. life. Everything you do serves a purpose, even if it is binge-watching a series i.e. entertainment. Other reasons for seemingly “non-productive” activities could be for human connection, to boost creativity, to just relax, etc.

💚If overindulgence in an activity hampers your preparation for exams, for example, or adversely affects your health, then we need to adjust your priorities and let it reflect in your daily life, instead of being harsh with yourself.

▪️Health > Entertainment.

▪️Exams > Socialising.

▪️Self Care > Perfectionism.

💛You do not have to blindly subscribe to what the popular trends tell you while deciding this. You do not need a jam-packed schedule to count yourself as “successful”, you don’t need a 4.30AM morning routine if it doesn’t suit your lifestyle. Choose what’s best for you, simple.

🧡There will always be way too many options of what is “ideal”, productivity “hacks” that promise to get it all done, routines that will “change your life” and what not. We can only try to consciously CHOOSE where we spend our time instead of doing it on autopilot. We are not mechanical beings, we need free time, unscheduled blocks in our calendars, flexibility, choices. It’s okay to crave freedom, it’s okay to resist structure, it’s okay to want change. It’s part of being human. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about it.


Why Do I Want To Manage Time?

Here are a few things to consider:

🔀Short-term vs Long-term: If there is a looming deadline at work, or there’s too much to study for your exam tomorrow, it makes sense to skip all the ideas, thoughts and philosophies about Time and directly get down to business. Use as many tips and hacks you can get your hands on!

🧡However, for the long term, and hopefully to be able to avoid such situations in future, try to have a goal that sounds LESS like “I want to study 10 hours a day” or “I want to meet all my deadlines at work” and MORE like “I want to create a system that automatically allows me to study more” OR “I want to manage my work tasks so that it is easier for me to meet all my deadlines.” 

💛What is the difference between these two?

💚The second one focuses less on immediate gratification and more on building SYSTEMS that will help you meet your Goals. Instead of focusing on Productivity i.e. how much work can you PRODUCE like a machine, you can focus on making your life easier and smoother so that the results flow effortlessly. Instead of measuring yourself in terms of your output and trying to maximise it, it lets you be human and supports you.

💙Vocabulary matters. We hear the word “Discipline” and our thoughts go back to the seemingly meaningless rules at school the or ridiculous, forced rules of work. Discipline always sounds like something that needs to be resisted because it takes away our autonomy. So, instead of using that, use other labels such as “Self-control” or “Structure” or “Support”. Instead of feeling forced to be “disciplined”, set goals keeping in mind: “How can I support myself so that I WANT to and I am ABLE to to manage my tasks?” 

💜If the word “routine” seems too dull and dictatorial, use the gentler word “ritual” used often in the context of Mindfulness. The difference: Routines sound mindless and forced, as if you are running on auto-pilot. Rituals are done with awareness, by choice, consciously and mindfully. 


How Do I Manage Time?

💜Start Small

Plan only the most important 3 items on your list. See how it goes and build on top of it. Plan to workout 3 days a week in the beginning, schedule hours only for that one subject you like first and add more later on.

💙Manage More Than Just Time

Do you really need to reschedule things? Or do you need to declutter, plan meals, make a weekly shopping, organise books and papers, etc? Setting routines and scheduling items on your calendar is only one aspect. Look at other areas of your life that need maintenance and re-structuring, so that overall life is easier for you and things take less time. 

 

💚Use Apps and tools- Calendars, Reminders or a simple pen and paper. Having clearly visible 👀 visual cues helps a lot more than a complicated App setup that is difficult to navigate to. Sticky notes, widgets on your home screen, a notepad to make lists are some examples. (Personal favorites, not sponsored: Google Calendar/iCal, Structured/Tiimo for scheduling, Notion for pretty much everything else.)

💛Time Blocking > Setting Tasks

If you have tasks that need to be done but have set aside no actual time to get them done, it is easier to slip up and overlook them. Even if it is a small task that will take up 10 mins, make sure to specify a time in for it such as 4.30PM-4.40PM.

🧡Leave Some Wiggle Room

Instead of having a jam-packed schedule, make sure to have little pockets of free time wherever possible. Instead of scheduling study hours like 3-5PM, 5-7.30PM, etc, leave a gap of 15-30 minutes in between.

🤍 Keep Your Options Open

Instead of hard-coding every last bit of detail, give yourself options for flexibility and freedom. For example, instead of saying you’ll practice Yoga every single morning- give yourself options: Between 7-8AM every morning, I will practice Yoga, or Meditate or Go for a walk. Choose between these 3 at random or as per your mood when the day arrives.

🪷 Give yourself space, don’t try to do it all at once, allow yourself to be human. 💖

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