How to manage your time better (and achieve your goals)

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Visualise your goals and don't underestimate the organisational power of a to-do list...

It’s exciting to have goals, and it’s important too. Whether it’s getting into uni or learning a new skill, goals can motivate you to work hard at something. But if you’re struggling with sloppy, ineffective time management, those dreams can start to drift away. You deserve to be your best self, and achieve those goals, so don’t let it happen – read on for advice on how to minimise procrastination and maximise productivity.

What is your goal?

Step one to being a crazy efficient time manager is figuring out what your goal is. Are you hoping to get into uni or college? Do you need certain grades? Are you saving money for a big trip? Or got a dream career in mind? Whatever your goal, don’t lose sight of it because this will be your guiding light and your greatest motivator. How to keep the goal in sight…

  • Journaling. Lots of people find that keeping a note of the dreams, ideas and insights related to their goal is a great way to focus attention. Try writing something every day, preferably in the morning – this should set your intention for the day.
  • Visualise your goal, again and again. This one might sound a bit woo woo but there’s logic to it, we promise. Spend time thinking about your goal, how you will get there and what it will look and feel like when you get there. Visualising your goal should lead to positive motivation and might clear up what’s standing in your way.
  • Talk about it. By telling friends, family or colleagues about your dream, the goal should feel more real – this way it’s not just in your head. Plus other people could have valuable input which is fuel for achieving those goals.

Write stuff down

Never underestimate the amazing, organisational power of lists and writing stuff down. When you’ve got a million things going on in your head it’s no use relying on your noggin to remember everything…inevitably something will get missed. Best to find yourself a calendar and notepad to keep track of all your jobs – this is going to make your day a whole lot more efficient.

  • Aim to make a list every morning, setting out your jobs for the day and prioritising them in order of importance. If you’re really getting into this list malarkey you could even allocate times to each job.
  • Try to write down 3 key tasks which are your priority for the day – once you’ve completed them, you can move on to the rest of your to-do list. Do your trickiest task first and you’ll be able to continue with smug satisfaction.
  • If you’re not a pen and paper type, try something like Wunderlist – a digital list maker which makes a very satisfying ping noise when you tick off a completed job.
  • Get things down on a calendar. Missed appointments are such a time waster

Five step plan to getting a task done

While your dream feels like the most exciting thing in the world, getting there can be a complete drag. Revising for exams for example – good God, it’s boring. If you’ve got a painfully boring task to do, remember to keep the end goal in sight (there’s a reason why you’re putting yourself through this hell remember!) and try breaking your task down into manageable chunks. Try this five step guide to getting something done, inspired by the Pomodoro technique.

  1. Choose a task on your to-do list.
  2. Set a timer on your phone for 25 minutes and work solidly on your task for that time.
  3. When the timer goes off, take a five minute break. Make a cuppa, stretch your legs, treat yourself to a loo break.
  4. After your five minute break, set your timer for another 25 minutes and get back to work.
  5. Continue this cycle four times and before you know it you’ll have completed two hours of work. Bish, bash, bosh.  

How to curb procrastination

Procrastination is an absolute time murderer. If you spend more time with your head in the fridge than with your head in a book or wherever it should be, check our tips for banishing the beast that is procrastination.

  • Give yourself a deadline and use the five step plan above to get something done.
  • Eliminate distractions. Bury your phone away or if you’re using it as a timer, make sure it’s on flight mode. Who knows what kind of Instagram vortex you might fall down otherwise. You could even try using website blocker apps such as SelfControl or Freedom
  • Let the people you live with know you’re working and you don’t need distracting thank you very much.
  • Get out the house. If there are too many distractions at home (that bloody fridge!), get yourself to somewhere quiet like the library. The quiet environment and the studiousness of people around you should get you in the mood for work, or at least pressure you into working.
  • Reward yourself once you’ve completed your job. You’ve done it! Treat yourself to lunch out or a night off, you deserve it.

Next Steps

  • Looking for a mentor to help boost your knowledge and skills? Find a youth zone close to you.
  • Reveal your skills with Define Me and find the right words to tell employers.
  • Download Motimator - an app that helps you get the career you want - by giving you a gentle kick up the ass each day when motivation is running low.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Olivia Capadose

Updated on 11-Jan-2019

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