Time and money are tight, so how can you - a student, a single-parent, or a person working two jobs - possibly maintain a neat apartment or house on top of keeping up with your other responsibilities and still leave a little time for yourself?
The following four tips will help you develop an effective time management system that will reduce your stress and increase your free time. I apply them because I need a neat apartment. If my living space is messy, I can’t focus on other things I need to do. Instead of battling between school, work, my other personal responsibilities and keeping a neat apartment, I created a time management strategy that works for me and allows me to give the other things in my life my full attention while keeping my living space in order.
Therefore, if you find there aren’t enough hours in the day or enough days in the week, try applying these 4 time management techniques, and start planning what to do with your free time.
Time Management Tips
1. Start everyday early and well rested.
The most important thing you can do is get good quality sleep at night. When you have a lot to do and less time to do it in, you need to be well rested. But being well rested doesn’t require sleeping 10 hours a night or sleeping until 10 in the morning (not even on the weekends). It took me a while to get used to getting up early, however, you can train yourself to do it and even enjoy it. I get up between 5:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. everyday. The advantages of getting up early includes: everyone else is still asleep for another couple of hours, your phone isn’t ringing, no one is texting you yet, and urgent emails aren’t flooding your inbox. It’s a wonderful time of day, and I am most productive during these quiet hours.
2. Divide and conquer.
Your house or apartment is broken down into rooms, hallways, and living spaces, use these divisions to your advantage. It took me a long time to act on that advice. But for the purposes of cleaning, it makes perfect sense. There is no reason to clean the entire house or apartment in one day because it takes that whole day to complete it. When can you sacrifice an entire day? So use your living space’s “natural” divisions to divide up your work. Do a complete clean of the bathroom one day, the master bedroom another, the kitchen another. By a complete clean, I mean mop floors, dust - everything.
Further, don’t wait until a room needs cleaning. Clean regularly and your job will be easier and quicker. For example, it is much more efficient to clean the bathtub once a week, rather than waiting for it be covered in soap scum and dirt. While you’ll clean more often, you’ll use elbow grease less often.
3. Maintain everyday.
Everyday requires straightening and picking up. I always pick up throughout the day. That just means little things, like cleaning up your dishes after eating, if you come home and change, put your clothes in the hamper or back in the drawer or closet right away. Then, every night, I try to straighten up before I go to bed. There is nothing nicer than waking up and walking out into a clean apartment, starting the coffee pot, then hopping in the shower. Then, you can immediately begin your tasks for the day, i.e., reading the newspaper, watching the show you taped last night, reading your school books, or starting whatever it is that you need to get done.
But what if you live with messy people? I can relate, but do not try to change them, it won’t work - I have tried - it leads to arguments. Instead, I gave my “roomie” the walk-in closet in the master bedroom. I told her that she can keep it in any condition she wanted, and I would not make a peep about it. Naturally, the closet is a mess, but it has a door, and I close it. In turn, she ends up being a bit neater in the rest of the apartment. Note: I do not point that out because it might ruin it as I think she does it sub-consciously.
4. Reward yourself.
I find that getting up early, maintaining the cleanliness of the apartment before bed, and only cleaning one room at a time leaves my evenings free to hang out with my girlfriend, help out at my mom’s house, or get lost in a hobby.
You work hard, but if your organized and manage your time effectively you will be less stressed and have more time to do things that are truly important.
Creating your own personal time management system takes patience, dedication, and some creativity. But, if you apply the techniques that I laid out, and tweak them to fit your life and preferences, you too can enjoy a nap, read your favorite book, or playing with your kids, instead of folding laundry or vacuuming the floor.