By Austin Berner

Most people seem to agree that there just are not enough hours in the day. When it comes to going to work, finishing projects, taking care of kids, cooking, cleaning, etc. the list goes on and on, it is hard to get everything done. Suddenly, relaxation can begin to feel like a chore too! How can all of the things in the day be juggled while maintaining sanity? Here is a list of five vital steps for making time management possible.

1. Make a To-Do List
This may seem rudimentary, or even elementary, but this is the top thing on the list for a reason – it is the easiest and most effective. If you’re stressed, you WILL NOT remember everything. By writing all things down on a to-do list, you’re able to see what needs to be done and remember it all. One of the most important things to do, whether in writing or mentally, is to prioritize the items on the list. Realize the difference between important and urgent, because there is a distinct difference, and confusing these two things can dramatically affect your schedule and stress level. Keep the priority of things in mind, and shift things around as needed.

2. Find your Concentration Place
In lieu of a “home base”, it is important to find a place where you are able to sit down, be free of distractions and concentrate to get things done. Analyze the things that distract you…is it co-workers? Friends? Loud random people? Any way you slice it, they’re perhaps not watching out for your workload and sanity. Decide whether it is better to tell people where you’re going, or maybe just get away. Find a quiet place that is secluded where you can focus and slip into a working frame of mind.

3. Allow for More Time
It is easy to say, “I need to be at work at 9, my commute is 20 minutes, so I need to be leaving home at latest 8:40”. Except not. You have not accounted for walking into the building, for waiting on that school bus to go by, for the traffic light that just won’t seem to change nor for when you spill your coffee walking out the door. Suddenly it is 9:20 by the time you sit down to work, and your stress level is through the roof. Your commute was really closer to 40 minutes. Unfortunately, there is no real way to anticipate the obstacles in your day. Take time in the morning to reflect on what some of the obstacles could be and how you can react. Leave more time than you think for tasks because this will bar your stress level from going up.

4. Set Rational Goals
This is where the adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” really strikes a chord. You are only human, and you are allowed to fail – it happens. By expecting too much, you immediately set yourself up for failure. Sometimes it is necessary while juggling to decide which ball can be dropped, because some tasks demand more attention than others, and it is not possible to do everything at once. Decide what goals are rational and achievable. By doing such, you will get more done, be more efficient and feel better about your work because you did the best you could. This is inextricably connected to the fifth and final tip:

5. Say No!
It is impossible to do everything, and in trying to do so, you will only stress yourself out. If someone asks you to do something, think to yourself, “is this a rational goal that I can accomplish to a level we’ll both be proud of?” If the answer is no, then that is what you should tell the other person. Sometimes it is easy to have a perception that you have to do something, which causes a negative perception of the event overall. The reality is that you don’t have to do anything. You choose to do all things that you do. If you view tasks as choices rather than “have-to-do’s”, you’ll be happier overall.

It is easy to say that time just got away from you. Maybe the real issue is that you overbooked your schedule and didn’t do the same in planning and preparation. By keeping organized, planning and realizing what is feasible, you will find that things tend to fall into place. You begin to have more time and less stress overall!