Time can get the best of us if we are not careful. If you’re like me, the older you get, the busier you are. Gone are the days when my responsibilities only included going to school and going to work. Now, as a newlywed and a homeowner, I have so many tasks I need to complete throughout the day, and as much as I want to binge watch my favorite TV shows on Netflix when I get home from work, I can’t because I have to cook, clean, exercise, etc. The list goes on.
If you’ve found that at the end of the day, you haven’t done everything you needed to, I’ve got some solutions for you. Here are 5 tools to help you manage your time better. Of course, whether you use these tools or not is up to you.
A planner can drastically improve your focus, and it doesn’t cost much to buy one. If you’re thinking of the stuffy, leather ones your grandma used to have to hold her receipts, you’re in for a surprise. Planners have come a long way from the expensive Franklin Covey days. Now, it seems like every store imaginable sells them, and there are many different (cheaper) brands out there with tons of accessories you can buy, like stickers and stamps, so your planner isn’t dull and boring. You no longer have to be boxed in creatively. YouTube has a ton of planner flip-through videos to help you figure out which system is right for you. Also, it may take a while to get in the habit of using your planner. Be patient with yourself; you’ll get the hang of it.
A bullet journal is like a planner, except there is no set format. You can create your own with a simple notebook, either lined, graphed, or dotted. I have just recently started bullet journaling, and it has done wonders for managing my stress. For me, using a bullet journal is much easier than using a planner. I don’t have to try to cram my entries into a tiny box or feel bad for wasting paper because I missed filling out a few days. It allows me to set my priority tasks, track my habits, and be creative, all at once. Even though technically you can do whatever you want in your journal, there is a precise bullet journal system that enables you to maximize your time. Check out bulletjournal.com to find out more information.
If you’ve never heard of them, Trello, Asana, and Airtable are online digital task managers that have recently popped up over the last few years. They each have different benefits and prices, but the gist of them is essentially the same: keep all your tasks in one place. These websites are especially useful for corporations, small businesses, and entrepreneurs because they make it easy to see when deadlines are due, but they are much more sophisticated than the simple calendar you may have on your computer.
Let’s say you work at a small marketing firm doing graphic design. You can set up a shared Trello board for your coworkers to help manage projects you may be working on together. It saves you time and energy and allows you to communicate with your coworkers without having to send an email.
Asana and Airtable are essentially the same as Trello. Personally, I use Airtable to manage my blog and freelance calendars. Without Airtable, I wouldn’t know exactly what I needed to do for each blog post I’m working on. Some posts may need art or some may need editing, and Airtable allows me to group those tasks together in one place. Airtable also comes with templates for all sorts of things, so if you are hesitant to create a board from scratch, you can find a template that suits your needs.
If you have an iPhone or a Gmail account, you already have a Google Calendar. Maybe you only use it to see what day it is, but you could be using it for so much more. I use mine for anything and everything — when my favorite TV shows premiere, when I have an appointment or interview, etc. But did you know that you can set up multiple calendars within your master Google Calendar? I have just recently started doing this, and the benefit is that each calendar is color coded so anything you add to it will populate on your phone and be color coded, too. You can even set up your own meal plan or fitness calendar. Think outside the box a little, and you’ll reap the benefits.
OK, this might be the most surprising tool. You might think of Pinterest as a way to waste time, but have you ever used Pinterest to organize your life? Sure, you could go down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest’s Women’s Fashion and spend a good half hour repining clothing you’re never going to buy. Or you could actually use Pinterest for what it was created for, which was organizing items in one place. Are you going on vacation soon? Create a board full of all the items you may need to buy for your trip. It doesn’t have to be clothing; it could be toothpaste, deodorant, etc. What makes Pinterest even more awesome is that now there are Product pins, so you can find exactly what you want to buy and the particular store that has it in stock. Cool, right?
I know what you’re thinking, “Why even bother?” It might seem like using these tools will make you lose time. Just know that you have plan your time in order to maximize your time later. Only then will you finally be able to go to bed feeling accomplished for completing all the tasks on your to-do list.