I can still remember the time management advice my college adviser gave me in my freshman study skills course.
She said that since we all have the exact same hours in the day, we needed to manage our time wisely in order to be our most productive. We had to make use of time previously wasted.
This was a concept that I had never considered before. Sure, I knew I could waste a lot of time playing around on the computer or watching TV. But she was talking about something much bigger than that.
She pointed out that a lot of time was wasted during the day simply because we convinced ourselves that we didn’t have time to do anything during those small blocks of time.
At the time, she suggested we create our own flash cards on notecards and pull them out when we’re waiting for appointments or standing in line. Her suggestion was to use those odd moments to squeeze in a bit more studying.
The advice was useful to me as a busy student. And it is still useful advice today.
The next time you catch yourself saying that there’s never enough time to get things done, STOP. Think about how you spend your day. How much time is spent waiting? Waiting for food to cook? Waiting for appointments? Waiting on hold? What could you be doing with that time spent waiting? How much time is spent surfing the internet or playing a game on your phone? How much time is spent watching TV or just sitting around? What could you be doing instead?
Those are all moments that you could be getting things done. Don’t believe me? Set a timer and see how much you can get done in just a few minutes. In 15 minutes you could unload the dishwasher and start dinner. In 10 minutes you could fold and put away laundry. In 8 minutes you could pay some bills or organize your coupons or clear out old papers from your file cabinet.
You can use those blocks of time to do physical tasks like prepping lunches for the next school day. Or you can use those blocks of time to do some “thought work” – to brainstorm ways to save money, to plan an event or set goals.
So often we get caught up thinking that we need big blocks of time to get things done. And while those big blocks of time are nice, we don’t really need them as much as we think. We just need to use those little blocks of time we’ve previously wasted.
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