Making Friends with Time: Five Tips to Take Control of the Clock

Do you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done that you want to do? Does your life ever feel frenzied, like you’re running from the moment your feet hit the floor in the morning without many pauses in your day? Do you feel unproductive, unorganized or unable to keep up with the demands of your daily life?


We live in busy times! Thanks to technology, we are more connected than ever before to both our business and personal lives. Everyone from toddlers to senior citizens seems to have packed schedules. Multi-tasking is the norm and some people even take pride in their busy lives, placing rest, relaxation, and well-being low on their priority list.


Unfortunately, we can be busy without being productive, which can mean being overscheduled, feeling scattered, or experiencing chronic lateness, often resulting in increased stress. Time management, or taking conscious control over exactly how you spend your time, can give you back the power over your life. People who practice good time management tend to be more productive, feel less stressed, have more energy for the things they need to get done and more time to do the things they want to do. Time management is a learned skill with many simple strategies to choose from. The key is to choose techniques that fit with your individual style, that you find motivating, and that you will actually stick to.


Here are 5 tips to improve your time management:

  1. Create a positive mindset about time. You decide how you spend your time, not a clock or calendar. Make sure to talk about time like it’s your friend, not your enemy. If you catch yourself complaining, blaming the clock or engaged in any negative talk around time, try replacing your thoughts with affirmations like:

· I am in control of my time.

· I have all the time I need.

· I always have time for the important things in my life.

· My life is balanced even when my schedule is full.

  1. Prioritize the three most important things you need to get done each day. Doing less will actually help you feel more accomplished. You can still have a big “To Do” list, but focus on completing the key tasks first. When you narrow down your results-oriented activities and do them first, you will generate more success.
  2. Know how you spend your time. Ask yourself what feels like the biggest waste of time in your day? Try tracking how much time you spend mindlessly scrolling through social media, how many times a day you check you email, or anything else you turn to for distraction. Set specific times in your day for those activities with clearly set time limits. Turn off notifications from your phone and have it on silent when you are working, so you don’t lose concentration every time you get a message.
  3. Learn to say no. Pay attention to which activities, people and places uplift you and which drain you. Explore whether you have unrealistic expectations for what you think you can get done in a day, leading you to say yes to too many invitations Schedule time in your day or week for yourself, family, friends and the things in life that bring you joy. When you feel your best, you will have more energy and enthusiasm to put towards your work.
  4. Take regular breaks. Working while eating lunch can be counter-productive. Stepping away from your workspace throughout your day gives you a new perspective, refreshing your mind and rejuvenating your energy. Going for a walk has been shown to increase creativity and energy levels while reducing stress. Taking breaks in your day can also be a way to naturally split your work up into manageable blocks and help you avoid afternoon slumps.


Incorporating any or all of these strategies can be the difference between thriving and burning out. As you try them out, notice if you feel more productive or less stressed, if you find yourself accomplishing more in a day, or if you suddenly have more time in your day for the things that you want to do. Try embracing these new tools as a way to help you feel more motivated and inspired, knowing that time management is the path to experiencing more balance and greater success in your life.


Nikki Dean, motivational yoga instructor, is part of the Rethink Healthy Team, a service of the Wellness Neighborhood of Tahoe Forest Health System. For more information, call the Wellness Neighborhood (530) 550-6730.