Now that the Holidays are over and our decorations have been safely returned to their place out of the way, it’s time to focus on the upcoming year. It’s been a long-standing tradition to think of the New Year as a fresh start or new beginning and we often greet the season with a focus on bettering ourselves. One way we could all be more efficient versions of ourselves is to develop habits that help us plan our time wisely.

In today’s society, busy is the norm.  We constantly juggle between busy work schedules, family needs, academic tasks, extracurricular activities, and other priorities that demand our time, one thing we could all use is a way to save time. After all, it’s easy to get caught up in the things we have to do and sacrifice the things we need to do in order to get by. The stress of time pressures can overwhelm us just as much as the thought of missing something. One way to strike a balance between our many priorities is to master time management.  I’ve adopted a few tips throughout my DIY lifestyle and I think they can help you work toward achieving the new you.

  1. Use a planning system. You can do this by investing in a good planner, an online calendar that syncs with your phone or tablet, a dry-erase board, a cork board, or even some post-it notes.  Whatever you use as your planning medium, make sure it’s in a place that you will naturally look at often.
  2. Set aside time to plan.  Your first priority to write down in your planning system is to save time to plan. The amount of time you need to set aside will vary according to your list of priorities.
  3. During your planning session each week, plan out your schedule up to 21 days in advance.  Studies say it takes approximately 21 days to form a habit. The backbone of the next 21 days that you plan for with form your typical routine.

When you plan out your schedule, don’t just put tasks on the calendar. Weigh your tasks according to four priorities:

    Any task that does not get done on the day you plan to get it done will need to be forwarded to the next day. If you forward a task, be sure to move it up in priority. Don’t forget to schedule in time where you can be flexible so that you can make time to do things that unexpectedly come up!

    1. Schedule time to recharge. Your chances of mastering time management increase significantly when you remember to make the things you need a priority. You’ll quickly max out on the burn out meter when you expect yourself to keep working under stressful conditions without giving yourself ample time to recharge. Resting your powerhouse of a mind should always be a Category A priority.
    2. Plan your meals. There’s a reason your school system gave you a lunch menu for a given period in time. According to a gourmet food line, 90% of people do not know what’s for dinner at 4:00 PM. Stressing out over figuring out dinner plans can cause you to make unhealthy food decisions and waste more hours out of your evening (Imagine how much time is wasted when you don’t have the other two meals planned!) During your weekly planning session, plan your meals too.
    3. Plan how much money you will spend and when you will spend it. Time management isn’t just about tasks, it’s about money too. It’s likely that in your plan, you’ll have time to set aside paying your bills, doing grocery shopping, and dinner plans outside of the home.  Factor in how much money you plan to spend and make sure that it’s within your budget for the month.
    4. If things don’t go according to plan, do not spend time feeling guilty about it. Unexpected things happen, so don’t be too strict with your time schedule. Remember, time management is always a work in progress—especially as priorities shift. Appreciate the work that you’ve done and the progress you’ve made. Stick with it!

      You are more likely to achieve your goals when you share your ambition with a friend. Share your intentions along with these delightful tips on Facebook or Twitter.