How to be time efficient ?

As I finally finished my last semester as an undergraduate student I am back to having a “normal” timetable. A timetable that would include two days off a week. (Even if working in retail it means two random days), still TWO DAYS OFF. And by off I mean completely off. No stress, presentations, power point, articles, essays, reports or deadlines at the back of my mind. A real freedom. And really, the truth is that I better enjoy this sweet freedom. Firstly, because I am starting my Masters in October and since I intend to keep working whilst doing so I am likely to see my time management skills once again challenged . And secondly because in the last weeks the reality has hit me: I will probably have a crazy timetable for many years following graduation. Obviously not as crazy as the last two years 7 days a week rota but pretty busy anyway.

So what is busy day for you? What time would you leave and come back from your house? Is a 15 hours day outside of the house daily routine for most Londoners?

And more importantly:

How do you manage to be efficient and fit everything in one day? 

          1. Get a personal organiser and write everything in it. It really worked for me, my Filofax  have somehow become my best friend. It helps organising your days and you will also avoid the stress of forgetting something. You will also win time by having it always with you so you can plan anything at anytime.

          2.  Put a calendar close to your office desk: You might think that a personal organiser is enough but this should also help you. Indeed when sitting at your desk, studying or working, you can see your deadlines and upcoming events in just a second. Remember to put everything in here !! Indeed don’t recall only deadlines and other work related events but also this romantic dinner you have been invited to on Friday or again this afternoon tea with your girlfriends on Saturday. This way (and even if your calendar looks completely overbooked) you will work harder when needed in order to be able to attend your personal events.

    3. Write to do lists and start with the task you like the least first: That way you are sure to get it done and will end your day with something you enjoy doing (or at least consider easier) consequently finishing the day on a good note!

          4. Every evening, go through everything you have to do the following day and organise it all before going to bed: Pack your gym bag and leave it close to your bed. Prepare your clothes to be worn on the following day and leave them on the chair next to your bed. Pack your books, Filofax ect… Leave your keys and Oyster card in sight on your desk. By organising like this you will have a better sleep with a clear mind of the day ahead and you will, in the meantime, avoid the morning rush and the stress that comes with it.

          5. Try and always work in the place where you will be most efficient: For example, I like being at home, but I know I will get too easily distracted if I write at home. Plus I might need some books from the library. Consequently (and even if the silent study area of the library looked a bit like a prison) I tried to always go to the library and isolate myself. This way you create a good working environment and patterns that are extremely useful to avoid procrastinating and actually do some work.

  6. Set deadlines for yourself: Easier say than done but try to plan ahead so you are always ready few days before the actual deadline.Also, set daily deadlines for yourself. For example, finish the introduction of this report by tonight. And once a deadline is set up, stick to it!

And if you wonder where I got my tips from, here is what a typical day looked like for me in the last two years…. Way too busy!

6.20 am: Wake up, jump into trainers.

6.30 am: Have a light breakfast, grab a fruit and leave the house.

6.55 am: Board an amazingly full  Westbound Central Line train towards Liverpool Street.

7.05 am: Walk up the escalator to arrive in Liverpool Street station. The station is already really busy, business man, tourists arriving or departing London and early raiser on their way to the gym just to name a few, you would be amazed to see the buzz around at such an early hour of the morning.

7.10 am: Touchdown LA Fitness London Wall. Fill up bottle of water and hurry to the spinning room. Believe me or not, at 7 am the classes are full. For many people, the early morning is the only time free to exercise, so at 7.15 when the music starts everyone gives its best knowing the long day ahead.

8.00 am: End of the class. What a great way to start the day! Call me crazy if you want but when I know that I have a really busy day ahead, starting with a good gym session most definitely help.

8.05 am: Shower. Around me, bankers and executives women are hurrying up into their black suits.

8.30 am: Leaves the gym direction Uni

9.00 am: Just in time for the lecture.

12.00 am: Lecture and seminar finished, time to go to work.

1.00 pm: Arrives in Selfridges: red lipstick on, heels on. Let’s go.

1.15 – 9.15 pm: Serve customer, manage the team and answer to all the “bloody” customers complains. Stress stress and stress more. Indeed, during my 9 hours shift, I will think of all this uni work I have to do. I will get stressed knowing that my uni mates are actually spending the day at the library, getting on with their work while I am here trying to make money.

9.30 pm: Count tills, send emails to directors, fill up daily figures sheets and go home!

10.00 pm: Arrives home, eat

11.00 pm: Read the required reading for tomorrow’s lecture. Answer all the emails and post from my fellow uni mates with whom I am working on a group coursework.

11.30 pm: Falls asleep.

Everyday wasn’t this busy as my part-time job kept me busy three days a week only. Nonetheless, everyday was filled with either University or work  and days off were gold dust. At the worst times, when deadlines were upcoming, I didn’t have the choice but to go less to the gym. I agree that you always have the choice but since days are only made of 24 hours, you might have to cut down some activities in the favour of a good night of sleep. Also, I had the chance to have great friends and a great boyfriend that were great support during these busy and stressful times. I intend to thank them all by spending some great quality time with them all summer long.

So yes, I am now enjoying my freedom very much. And to the many people who asked me how hard it was to work and study in the same time, I won’t lie, it is hard. Hard but definitely not impossible. I actually truly believe that my crazy schedule has allowed me to be more organised and so be more efficient when I needed to be so.

Now, I am looking forward to a good holiday far away from the business of London. Because let’s face it, being busy in a busy city that is London is great but, at times, we all need a break.

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