To breathe properly again and to be able to fall asleep calmly, without a guilty conscience and without time pressure, seems almost hopeful these days. The endless list of tasks causes a lot of stress and is seemingly unmanageable. Remembering all these tasks alone looks practically impossible. Remedy promises improved time management, which can be learned, fortunately.
Learning time management is more than just using apps and lists. Thus, resorting to to-do lists should provide stress relief, but without concomitant behavioral changes, ultimately exerts even more pressure, as the rosters expand instead of being processed.
The following eight tips will help you to end the permanent stress and finally come to a well-deserved rest. Your time management can be optimized, the to-do list processed faster, and as much as possible handled as quickly as possible if you follow these tips.
Put logical connections in your to-do list.
The order should also prevail on a to-do list. Its chronological order often characterizes it – but only if chronology covers the times in which the authors of the individual tasks have come to mind. In short: chaos. A timeline or listed prioritization is more of a rarity among the list leaders. Most essential or urgent events are underlined, circled in red, or provided with colossal exclamation points. The attention is directed so only to the conspicuously marked to-dos and the smaller tasks backstage. It is they who make a list endlessly long and who do not let the conscience rest.
Helpful in organizing is not just a sensible list, but also the categorization of tasks. For example, the tasks can be arranged according to travel times: What is nearby and can be done directly together? Or after activities such as “call” or “shopping,” which can also be worked together to save time. It is up to each individual to decide which categories prioritized. The same applies to lists ordered according to urgency. Consistent and rigorous artistry is certainly an intent that forgotten one time or another; it is enough to put his to-dos in a logical context to set and work them in small blocks.
Finish what you started
When significant, tedious tasks have to be mastered, the small, otherwise annoying to-dos seem to be very tempting. The many small dots suddenly have more weight than what has been on the list for a long time. The temptation is that small-step thinking causes less pressure than long, tedious planning with no end in sight. The trick is to divide the time-consuming, reluctant task that could possibly extend over days – such as clearing out of the study – also in small steps. So there are two variants in the execution of this small step.
The first variant includes the dreaded, long period. Here, small projects can help to hide the overwhelming rest for a while. So you can first of the “project desk” dedicate, and only after completion of this part of “project file cabinet” begin. It does not hurt to divide a big project into smaller projects as well.
The second variant splits these smaller projects on different days. This way, everyday life can be mastered, and smaller to-dos can be integrated without delaying the long-term candidate on the task list. Once started, concrete time frames should be set at which the task is continued. Absolutely avoided; the intention was “someday to do this week.”
The setting of time limits
If there is an unusually high time pressure and the tasks grow over your head, this tip can be particularly helpful. To save time and not unnecessarily expand the management of the to-dos, one should set concrete time limits. For example, 10 minutes are scheduled to write an e-mail, the purchase should be completed in 20 minutes and the weekly phone call with the mother today only 15 minutes instead of the usual two hours.
Each day requires new boundaries, and depending on how many tasks are scheduled for the day; the time limits should also be shortened or extended. The borders help that there is time for stress-free breaks in between, and at the end of the day, you can fall asleep with a clear conscience and maybe even a little pride because everything was done, what you wanted.
It is essential not to take on daily planning and to set realistic goals. Even if the limits are not always met precisely, the intent of a time limit for accelerated coping already helps. Helpful here can be daily checklists, which can be ticked off gradually.
Time management via paper or electronics?
If so far, only the diary has served as a reminder, peppered with post-its, colorful tags, and asterisks, and an electronic to-do list could provide a pleasant overview. The advantage is clearly that anything can be edited arbitrarily and adequately at any time. Which type of task list best suits you will ultimately be up to you. The most important thing is to stay with a medium. Using both variants can quickly lead to confusion and increase the risk of forgetting to-dos.
For the electronic organization of his appointments and duties, there are meanwhile numerous free apps for Windows, Android, Mac, and iOS. Called Wunderlist (belongs to Microsoft), Google Keep, Any.DO and Todoist.
The saving of time can also be ensured by reducing the claims on yourself. Too much focus on details often leads to a significant loss of time. Does it have to be exactly this currently out of print brand of a product when shopping, or could it be worthwhile to resort to an immediately available replacement product? Compromises save time and help to overcome time-consuming doggedness.
Another approach to over-perfectionism is giving up tasks. If the to-do list is for the whole family, then the entire family should be involved as well. When organizing a celebration, tasks could also be distributed. So it is possible to take over the essential duties yourself and hand over the smaller, many, time-consuming points to temporarily inactive persons in family and circle of friends.
Adjustment of energy level – Synchronization of time of day and task type
In general, the most manageable tasks are usually set at the beginning of the day to make getting into the stress phase easier. However, to fully exploit individual productivity, it helps to orientate one’s biorhythm. At what time of day are you most active, and when is it usually time for you to take a little thought break? Get the most tedious tasks to a point where you can be sure that your energy levels are higher than at other times.
Minimization of confounding factors
In today’s world, it’s hard to stay focused. Tasks are only half-heartedly done and require much more time when the TV is running or other distractions such as spontaneous trips, messages, or phone calls. Once interrupted, it is tough to return to the essential. Music can have both motivating and demotivating effects on the individual. So you should try for yourself, to which type you belong.
On the one hand, fast music can speed up the active processes or even encourage you to dance, which in turn distracts you. Calmer music has the property to create a feel-good atmosphere in which one would like to stay longer. The conclusion: You spend forever with a task that was not originally meant to rob so much time. So the key to sound time management is to analyze yourself and consciously get out of your comfort zone to achieve the desired rest.
A disruptive factor, which can also cause interruptions, again and again, is the permanent accessibility. When dealing with essential tasks, it is important to limit them. It often helps to reassure friends and relatives in advance that you will not be available for a specified period.
In the meantime, apps have also been developed in a game-like format against interruptions, which should help the user to stay away from the smartphone. An example is the app “Forest: Stay focused” for Android and iOS, which set certain periods in which you can not look at his smartphone. The longer the time window, the bigger the tree grows in your “forest.” If you look at your phone, the tree will die, and you will lose.
The reward leads to the goal
The desire for freedom from stress should always be kept in mind while minimizing the to-do list. This can only be guaranteed if not too many come to the tasks completed, that no peace can be found. Here it is essential to learn to hide distant, temporally irrelevant tasks. Instead, you should focus on really present stress triggers, which of course you should avoid.
The optimization of time management should begin with the order and prioritization of tasks and end in their incontestable finalization. This works not only psychologically redeeming but also ensures well-deserved free time.