5 Tips for Managing Time Better

Brainstorming how to manage life

I finally got my head out of the clouds to write this post.

By Yoo-Sun Park

It’s a privilege and a curse that managing time is a regular, if not, expected way of living. 

Being the first child in my family and first grandchild on my maternal side, I’m expected to gracefully balance my jobs, passions, relationships, health AND also be an example for my younger sister and cousins.

It’s true that I have a job that excites me, a passion that I can’t live without, relationships that make me feel loved, and my health that I don’t take for granted, but it’s very much a daily juggle trying to manage them all without losing my sanity.

Making family a priority

Me playing Mother Hen.

After many, many, many months of experimenting to find the formula for seamless lifestyle management, I did an exercise that provided a huge revelation that I think is worth sharing with anyone trying to figure out their multitasking life.

This week, I did a simple, daily gut check on my most important priorities in life and realized there is no single method or circumstance that can help manage time and in effect, life better. It’s the attitude you bring to each priority, to each situation — to life — that matters most.

Here are five things (and tips) I learned about managing my time and priorities in life:

1. Schedule time for yourself — and keep the appointment

It takes a lot of persistence…to make time for me. I live in New York City and I don’t live alone. This makes for very little me space and even less me time. I’m sure we’ve all heard how important making time for yourself is for your sanity, but it’s really hard to just “make” me time. And that’s the thing, because it’s really hard to come by, I have to be persistent on making me time happen. If I don’t, it’s a guarantee that time will be taken away and I will regrettably be seeking it in retrospect when I’m begrudgingly engaged elsewhere.

Tip: Add 10 minutes before your regular wake-up time and make that extra 10 minutes your time to do whatever you need for your peace of mind: read, meditate, eat in silence or take a neighborhood walk. Need ideas? Try the 10 minute ritual Tony Robbins does every morning.

2. Put in the hours

It takes a lot of time…to focus on important work. As much as I’d like to think that I can sit down in between appointments during the day and bang out beautifully written posts and creative content in just one sit-down and draft, it has and will never be the case. It turns out, I need to dedicate a block of at least 3 hours each day to get ahead in my work. This reality is a frustrating one for me because the kind of focus needed for any good work requires a lot more time than we’d like to believe and I’m finding out this is a non-negotiable.

Tip: The next time you need to get good work done, try what I did and block out no less than 3 hours to feel the benefits of focus. I use the app Calm to drown out outside noises and help me stay focused. 

The benefits of co-working at Spacious

Got in a great work session here last Thursday.

3. You have to be mentally tough to be physically healthy

It takes a lot of discipline…to make time for my body. There was a time when I could and would spend anywhere from 1-4 hours in a day working out. With a different rank of priorities now, I’m finding myself at the other extreme, getting almost complacent about exercising regularly. This is where discipline is everything. I don’t expect or need four hours but if it’s important to me, which it is, I have to resist complacency with discipline in maintaining this priority.

Tip: Put together a workout playlist you like. The next time you’re dreading the thought of working out, put this playlist on to get you in the mood. Studies show that listening to music releases dopamine and this “feel-good hormone” is just the motivation we need to get us going. If you don’t have time to make a playlist, feel free to use mine on Soundcloud. 

4. Be present

It takes a lot of effort…to be completely present in my relationships. Easier said than done and even tougher to catch my own indifference in a conversation. I’d be the second to admit that I wasn’t completely paying attention to you. You would be the first. Just that fact alone shows how much effort it takes for me to give my full attention over to you. Away from my to-do list, away from my phone, away from people watching. I’m finding that I have to make the extra effort in that moment just to remind myself to exercise full presence, if only out of respect for the other person.

Tip: Put your phone away. Just do it. And yes, make eye contact when someone’s talking to you. If you’re not comfortable doing that, practice making eye contact on your favorite TV characters. 

5. Practice gratitude

It takes a lot of strength…to live in New York City. The people, cars, noises, smells — some days, it takes a lot to get myself outside and deal with it all. When I have so much to do and so many distractions that challenge it like traffic delays and irritable weather conditions, it takes a lot for me to stay positive. But instead of dreaming of abandoning my obligations and escaping to a beachfront cottage, I’m learning to practice breathing and gratitude. Deep, slow inhales and exhales to re-center myself and then a mental list of the things I can appreciate in that moment as I smile…the warm sun, the vibrant energy of the city, the many different characters of New Yorkers, my favorite coffee shop baristas, the abundance of things to see and places to go. And, all of a sudden, there is something to appreciate when I step outside of my apartment. I am able to get out of my head and my world and be part of something bigger and better — the world outside. Not only does it give me fresh air but it also gives me a renewed perspective on living graciously.

Try: The next time you’re frustrated/irritated/annoyed/about to lose it, observe the goings-on, sit for a moment in silence and listen to your breathing. Then, list 10 things you’re grateful for. You’ll be amazed to feel how calming it is. If it helps to write your gratitude out, consider starting a gratitude journal. 

These priorities and challenges are obviously mine and, therefore, what I learned and experienced is unique to me, but reflecting on my attitude towards my biggest priorities helped me live the most satisfyingly productive week I’ve had in a very long time. I hope these tips can help others who are trying to manage time, their life and priorities better.

What are your most important priorities? How do you mentally approach and manage the priorities in your life? Do you have tips on how you manage to get through the day/week/year?

UPDATE:

It’s been one week since my above post and these are the things I’ve learned in trying to practice and share my 5 tips.

  1. Just because I start to feel like I’ve gotten a handle on things, don’t start adding more obligations and commitments. Otherwise, #1 and 2 will get sacrificed and then we’re back to square one.
  2. Everyone has different working styles for #2. Three hour blocks made up of 45 minutes with 5 minute breaks in between is all I need. This may or may not work for you. You may need to break this up into fewer hours throughout the day. Or maybe you’ll do a 3 hour block but you’d rather stay focused the entire 180 minutes and not take a single break. To each their own but it’s worth some experimentation.
  3. What I put together is an observation and practice as a person with no dependents. I don’t have cute puppies or beautiful babies so my thought process and priorities for this post did not all match up with some of my friends who do. The one tip that did? #1, go figure.

2 Comments

  1. trazmjou July 18, 2017
    • Yoo-Sun Park Yoo-Sun Park July 21, 2017

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