There never seems to be enough time in a day. When a deadline isn’t met or a chore isn’t completed, the response is often, “I didn’t have enough time.” The truth is we all have the same number of hours in a day. The issue some of us face is how we choose to spend our time.
Technological advancements and modern conveniences have had little to no effect on our ability to expand our time. I can order groceries, communicate with anyone in the world, binge watch the latest TV series and show off my latest adventure all from my phone while I wait in the carpool line. Despite having the ability to multitask from a phone, tasks can go ignored for days, weeks or even months.
I postponed filing my taxes until the last minute. I waited until the day before book club to start the assigned book. I drove donation items around for months. All because I ran out of time.
The real culprit when I don’t complete tasks is how I have chosen to use my time. I made the choice to nap, hang out with a friend, go for a hike, binge watch TV and doom scroll TikTok instead of completing a task.
If you find yourself missing deadlines, unable to complete items on your extensive to-do list or wondering at the end of the day where your time went, you can regain control. Take control of how you spend the hours in your day.
CHECK YOUR TIME
The first step to understanding why you don’t have enough time is to track how you spend it. Start by keeping track of what you do throughout the week. Use a notepad to keep track of everything you do throughout the day. Or make use of the calendar app on your phone and create an entry for each task. Time tracking apps such as Toggl are available, but the simpler the tracking method, the easier it will be to accomplish.
At the end of the week, review the information. Make note of any patterns. Are there any items that take longer than you expected? Do you spend more time on a specific task? Are you multitasking?
By reviewing where the time goes, it will be easier to create a plan for where you want or should spend your time.
ORGANIZE YOUR TASKS
I love a good to-do list, but not all lists are created equal. A to-do list needs grouping for maximum success.
I was not blessed with this knowledge, but I had a manager walk me through this process when I first joined the corporate workforce. I was overwhelmed by the increasing workload. My mind was racing with the thousands of tasks to accomplish in one day – call Mrs. Smith back, call Mr. Gonzalez about changes to his account, verify account details for various clients, update account notes and plan for future accounts. As I rattled off what felt like an endless list, my manager pointed out the groups – phone calls, account administration and planning.
I went from thousands of tasks to three. But we didn’t stop there. This next part revolutionized my to-do list. We walked through when to do those items. What time of day was the best time to place phone calls? When is the most efficient time for administrative tasks? When is the best time to work on sales?
Review your tasks. Create groups. Assign the best time of day for those groups. If your to-do list includes working with someone else, reach out immediately. Solo asks can be saved for nonpeak hours.
Make the most of working with others. When interviewing sources for a story, I will ask about other stories I am working on. If you have someone incredibly busy on the phone, maximize your time by gaining everything you can from one phone call.
Other ways I increase task efficiency is by scheduling items along driving routes. The donation site is close to a grocery store, so I load up my car with donation items to drop off before I pick up groceries.
USE YOUR RESOURCES
If you are unsure how to start organizing your tasks, look first to your immediate circle. Find the person in your life who gets things done. This could be a friend, family member, fellow student, work colleague or professor. Ask this person to sit down with you to review how you spend your time. Ask what they would do differently or how to organize your tasks.
Dallas College offers success coaches to help navigate all aspects of your college life. If you are struggling to stay on top of homework or classes, you can reach out for help. Visit a Success Coaching Center at your local campus. Call, email or use the virtual success coaching services. For more information, visit
MAKE IT MANAGEABLE
The key to making successful changes is to start small. Don’t try to overhaul your time management in one week and expect miracles. Start by observing your time, then make one or two adjustments based on your observations.
If it is hard to sit still and accomplish tasks, set a timer. For the tasks I hate, such as filing taxes, I set a timer for 30 minutes. I do 30 minutes of work, then I walk around, get a coffee or listen to a favorite song. If that is too long, start with 10 minutes.
It is possible to make the most of your day, but you have to start somewhere. We can choose to use our time to accomplish the things that have to be done as well as the things we want to do.