As you navigate your way through life, there may come a time when you have multiple projects to manage simultaneously. Maybe you have a full-time job, a side business to grow, and a master’s or doctorate program to finish. It could be you have a family and kids to take care of, two part-time jobs, and a sport or skill to practice.
Whichever the case, you may feel like your life has become busy suddenly, and you have no time to sit and relax. It may also leave you wondering how to prioritize your responsibilities to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. It’s easy to get anxious or frustrated when your days begin and end with you drowning in a sea of commitments. Don’t get into a rut. Let these tips on managing a busy life help you out.
Tips and Insights to Help You Manage Your Busy Life
If you are in that phase where your life seems ever busy, take a few minutes to read our tips and resources. They will help you prioritize commitments, manage your time and schedule better, and reduce the stress and anxiety arising from being too occupied.
We have divided our tips into three sections. We will first guide you on assessing your situation, then move to prioritize work based on your goals and finish with getting more organized.
Taking a Look at Your Situation
Assessing your situation will help you distinguish what’s important and what’s not. It will also give you an accurate picture of your commitments and thus allow you to prioritize and organize them. Here are the things to focus on when evaluating your situation.
1. Get in Touch With Your Values
Your values are what give life purpose and meaning. They are the things you care about and, in most cases, are the basis for making life choices and decisions. Examples of values include health, family, success, and wealth.
Before prioritizing your tasks and responsibilities, pick up a pen and write down your values. What are the things that matter to you in life? List the values you consider important, and let them guide you to prioritize your work.
2. Visualize the Life You Want
Once you write down your values, take a couple of minutes to envision the life you want. Try and visualize it in as much detail as you can. The aim here is to see your values in action and determine whether your envisioned life matches your listed values.
Visualizing your ideal life will help clarify what’s important and what’s not. For example, if you see yourself spending time with your family in a big house, then you’ll know wealth and family matter to you. If you picture yourself as the CEO of your company, then you’ll know your business matters to you.
3. Identify What’s Most Important in Your Life
The key to identifying the things important to you lies in your values and envisioned life. Your values are unique to you. What’s important to you in life may not matter to someone else. Therefore, you need to look from the inside rather than the outside. Don’t categorize something as important just because it matters to other people.
Once you visualize your life, eliminate the things that don’t align with it. While at it, add the ones that do. By doing this, you will be better positioned to prioritize your responsibilities based on what matters in your life.
4. Prioritize Family and Self-Care
Two things are vital regardless of what you do or the life you live – family and self-care. Learn to prioritize these two despite how busy life gets. Allocate time to spend with your family. Also, take care of yourself and your health. Doing so will ensure you are in the best state to tackle the tasks and commitments in your busy life.
Reducing Work That Doesn’t Align With Your Goals
Okay, you now have a visual image of the life you want and a list of values and goals you consider essential. Your next task is to prioritize your commitments by eliminating those that don’t align with what matters to you. Here are a few tips to help you do that:
5. Don’t Overcommit – Accept the Amount of Work You Can Handle
We all get the same 24 hours in a day, and there’s only so much you can do within this timeframe. Try not to overcommit yourself. Just focus on accomplishing the tasks you can and leave the rest for another day.
Overcommitting will only set you up for failure since you might struggle to get everything done. It may leave you feeling under-accomplished, at best, or stressed and frustrated, at worst. You may be a high-performance person, but you are not a machine. You are prone to getting tired, and you need periodic rest.
6. Learn to Say No – When Your Schedule Is Too Busy
At times, your schedule won’t allow you to add any more activities to it. In this case, you shouldn’t feel guilty saying no to other people’s favors, requests, and invitations. It’s okay to decline. The cost of saying yes may come at the expense of overcommitting yourself or not accomplishing everything on your to-do list.
Here are a few tips to help you say no to requests and invitations:
- Be polite
Give a polite response that doesn’t hurt your relationship with the other person.
- Give a reason
The key to declining other people’s requests is to make them understand. Try saying something like, “I’m sorry. I’d love to take on this new project, but I’m currently swamped with this other one.”
- Decline with gratitude
Appreciate the other person for inviting or considering you for the task, then decline their offer. You can say something like, “Thank you for the invitation. I would love to come, but I’m busy with work.”
7. Delegate if You Can
Maybe you have tasks that can easily be performed by someone else; don’t be afraid to delegate them. Delegating frees up your time to focus on more essential matters. It also enables the other person to learn how to perform the task, and thus you may never have to do it again. Depending on your leadership position, identify someone who can do something as well as you do and assign it to them.
8. Get an Assistant if It’s an Option
Getting an assistant is another way to reduce your workload. It may cost you financially, but in the long run, you’ll free up your schedule for other things. An assistant can also help organize your schedule according to urgency and importance and notify you of upcoming responsibilities, for example, calls and meetings.
9. Consolidate Activities
If there are activities you can perform simultaneously, then why not consolidate them? Multitasking allows you to finish your to-do list faster, thus saving you time in the long run.
The best way to consolidate activities is by pairing a thought-intensive task with one that requires more physical movements than mental concentration. For example, you can talk on the phone while cooking or cleaning your house. It wouldn’t be a good idea to consolidate two thought-intensive activities.
10. Set Achievable Performance Expectations
Setting achievable yet realistic expectations is vitally important when managing a busy schedule. The key is to make them measurable. For example, let’s assume one of your tasks is to present a project for your department. You can allocate two hours a day to work on the presentation and challenge yourself to create two pages for every session. Setting expectations helps you become more productive. It also allows you to be satisfied and content with your work.
This section will provide you with tips to help you get more organized. You already know which activities matter to you and which ones don’t. You’ve also learned to reduce your workload. Now, it’s time to organize and prioritize the remaining commitments in your busy life.
11. Use the Time Management Matrix and These Time Management Tips
The time management matrix is a tool popularized by the late Stephen Covey in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” This matrix helps you organize and prioritize your tasks based on their urgency and importance. It categorizes tasks into four quadrants, which are:
- Quadrant 1: Urgent and Important
These tasks require immediate attention and are essential to your goals and values. Do them first.
- Quadrant 2: Not Urgent but Important
These tasks don’t require immediate attention but are essential to your goals and values. Plan on how to do them but don’t neglect them.
- Quadrant 3: Urgent but Not Important
These tasks require immediate attention but are not in line with your goals and values. Delegate them.
- Quadrant 4: Not Urgent and Not Important
These tasks don’t require immediate attention and don’t help you achieve your goals. Eliminate them.
Try using the time management matrix to manage your busy schedule. Read The Time Management Matrix for more information about this tool.
12. Use Your Personal Operating Peak (POP)
Another way to organize your tasks and work more efficiently is to use your personal operating peak (POP). It’s all about working the way you work best.
Some people work best when multitasking or juggling many activities at one go. Others prefer to finish one task before moving on to another. Some prefer working while listening to music, while others prefer pin-drop silence.
Find your personal operating peak and use it to tackle activities in your busy life. Doing so will increase your performance and enable you to achieve your set expectations.
13. Move Through Each Day With Consistency and Intention
Consistency is often the key to achieving long-term success, whether in your personal or work life. Learn to be more consistent and intentional in how your tackle your days. For example, if you plan and set a routine, stick to it even when you don’t feel like it. You’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve over time if you just become consistent. Remember that you should be in control of your days.
14. Prioritize Your Day the Night Before or in the Morning
Before starting your day, take a few minutes to plan and organize your daily tasks. Doing so will keep you on track with the activities for the day. It will also reduce the chances of one activity going missing or unattended. By prioritizing your tasks in the morning or the night before, you’ll get to jump right into them once you are ready.
15. Become More Efficient
Learn to perform your tasks most efficiently. Automate where necessary and find better methods of tackling repetitive tasks. For example, let’s assume there’s a task you do every day that takes you 30 or 40 minutes that is doable by software in less than 5 minutes. Why not automate it?
16. Keep an Up-To-Date Calendar
If you lead a busy life, you may find it helpful to have an up-to-date calendar. It will help inform you of activities on a particular day or time. A calendar also keeps you accountable to ensure you don’t miss a commitment.
A good tip would be to note down tasks in advance on your calendar. For example, if you have some training to attend the following week, note it down when someone informs you about it. Next up, check your calendar every morning before planning your schedule for the day.
17. Divide Large Tasks Into Smaller Ones
Projects that take hours, days, and even weeks to finish are often intimidating. You could try dividing them into small steps or milestones that lead up to the big goal.
Once you divide the project, focus on the activity you need to do at that particular time. Don’t worry about how large the project is or how long it will take. Each activity will lead you closer to the end goal.
18. Make Sure You Have a Healthy Work-life Balance
Having a healthy work-life balance means not overcommitting to one side at the expense of the other. It means working hard but also cultivating a life outside work. Don’t spend your days in the office and forget to spend time with your friends and family. While work matters, your social life does, too.
19. Take Breaks
Don’t overlook the importance of resting and taking breaks both after and during work. Rest will reenergize you and prevent burnout. Taking breaks also enables you to be more creative, especially when performing a thought-intensive task. Schedule your breaks as if they are essential tasks, too.
When life gets busy, you may feel like you don’t have control anymore. You may also struggle to prioritize activities since everything feels like it’s demanding your attention. Strive to take back control by learning how to manage your busy life.
Start by identifying the things that matter to you and distinguish them from those that don’t. Next, prioritize your work based on your values. Don’t be afraid to delegate where necessary, and don’t overcommit yourself. You can only do so much in a day.
Learn to be more efficient at performing tasks. Plan them in the morning or the night before so that you jump right into them when the time comes. You can also use the time management matrix or personal operating peak to tackle your workload. Lastly, schedule breaks throughout your busy day so that you don’t burn out.
Without the right information, managing a busy life can be challenging. However, there are many publications and resources out there that can help. See the collection below to broaden your understanding and access tools that can help.
I recommend you look for tools that can help you manage your busy schedule. For example, you might find a tool to help organize your busy schedule and make your life more manageable.
When you find a tool that interests you. To better understand what to expect, I suggest that you read reviews and watch video tutorials.
Books are another excellent resource you can use to expand your knowledge.
There are numerous publications about managing a busy life and schedule that you can benefit from. There are two links below, one for search results from Google books and one for books you can find on Amazon.
Courses or another source where you can manage your busy life and take control.
When it comes to courses, it’s a good idea to search for reviews on the course you’re interested in to understand what other people experienced. You can also search the author to check their credentials.
Going through the media’s stories about managing an active life can provide tips and insights. Using a site like Google News allows you to type in a keyword and get all the latest and archived news stories. For example, the link below offers news stories about conducting a busy life.
YouTube is an excellent source of information for virtually any topic. One thing to keep an eye out for is when you’re watching a video, you’ll get a list of related topics, and many of these could be videos you haven’t considered that are worth looking into.