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5 Tips » Time Management

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The following post is part of a blog series entitled 5 Tips. This is the first post and there are several more planned for the next several days. 

When it comes to time management, there about as many bloggers and books as there are minutes in the day. Whether you're like me and you work in ministry or you're a college student, we'd all probably openly admit that we could use more time in the day. 

And we know that is truly is our most valuable resource, don't we? 

1. Manage Your Energy

I used to read so many books and blogs about increasing productivity - which, could be argued, diminished my productivity (but I'm not ready to talk about it). A lot of it had to do with time analysis, tracking, mono-tasking, etc. These are certainly important practices and handy tools but you can't start there. 

You have to realize that energy is a more useful commodity to manage than time. Why? Because measuring your energy helps provide nuance for tasks that are mindless while allowing you to do your best at projects that require full focus and brain power. 

But how do I do that? Good question! I've heard some useful ideas in this regards throughout the recent years, but the best advice that I could pass on is to know your optimal and least optimal work times in the day. 

For instance, I do really great work late at night and I tend to have a lot of ideas after dinner. In the morning, I have the most energy and so I use that time to respond to emails or do tasks that I don't necessarily like (because we all have those, right?). 

Journal about how you feel while working for several days and then, on a small sticky note, write out the time of day (early morning, morning, afternoon, evening, late night) that you're the most optimal, least optimal and when you have the most energy. Then, as you schedule your time and appointments, keep these in mind. 

2. Add-In Small Gaps

Whether it's a lunch date or a work meeting or something, schedule in a gap of 15-30 minutes between each and every appointment. The temptation is to over-schedule because (like me) you probably believe that you do it all. You can't and neither can I. 

3. Schedule Time for Thinking & Dreaming

I don't usually do this (due to a lack of discipline) but I have a job where team and personal retreats are strongly encouraged. If you don't do this regularly, don't jump off the deep end. Grab a pen, buy a new journal and schedule an hour to think and dream next week. And then, treat that time as taken. Don't change it or schedule it for something else. Prioritize yourself. Because when you do it, strategically, you can better help others. 

4. Create A Short-List

Take 15-20 minutes and create a short-list that would include a handful of key relationships that you'd like to invest in over the next 4-6 weeks and also include a handful of projects/areas (professional or personal) that you'd like to give time to. 

I'm not saying that you abandon everything else, but that you doggedly schedule and focus on this list. Put it in a place that you always see, email it to yourself, share it, blog about it. Why not give it a shot? 

5. Schedule Fun

You might think that fun requires spontaneity. But you won't believe that for long, because once you get a full-time job, start a family, go to grad school or do any of those in a crazy combination, you'll see that what you don't schedule, doesn't happen. 

So schedule fun. For me, this works itself out in a few ways. My wife Hannah and I have a weekly date night and we also have one weekend activity (museum hopping, going to the theater, etc.) that we do but we alternate who plans it. I also watch several TV shows with different friends, and that helps keep us getting together on a somewhat regular schedule. 

Which of these tips do you currently do? Which one are you going to try out? Let us know in the comments!