Have you ever gotten to the end of the day and asked yourself that question? Do you frequently feel like you tried your hardest but you have nothing to show for it? Let's look at some ways to manage time more effectively to have results to show for it at the end of the day.
#1. Define Your Goals--Some people are into structure, some aren't. I recommend doing what works for you. If writing 3 things you want to do by the end of the day on the back of a receipt and sticking it in your pocket works for you, then do it! I don't care. I like having a day planner with time blocked off for each part of my day, with my running "To Do" list on the side. I can tell you right now, though, that if I asked my brother to keep one, it would never get written in. Ever. He's a "back of the receipt" kind of guy, and you know what? It works beautifully for him. So define your goals and put them somewhere. A secondary thing to do, once you have a focus for your activities, is to prioritize them. For example, I have a goal of working out for 30 minutes every day. It's a priority for me. Another priority for me is to learn something new. If I have 2 hours left in my day, I might try a new workout. Why? Because both of these things are priorities for me and I have a limited amount of time, so I'll learn a new workout for bonus points. Let's say in this 2 hours left scenario I also needed to...I don't know...return Library books. I might just bump that to the next day, because while returning them is important, the library books won't impact my health like working out will.
#2. Bust Time Wasters--If you frequently find yourself intimidated by your To Do list and jumping on FaceBook to compensate, you need to become aware of your bad habits and cut it out. If you are supposed to be setting up lunch meetings and instead you grab a coffee and hang out on Twitter for an hour, become aware of it and cut it out. A good way to catch yourself at this is to write down everything you do, every 15 minutes for 1 day. Don't lie to yourself and don't hold back. From when you wake up, begin recording even the mundane details. I realized I spent about 40 minutes every day just staring into space thinking of what to do next. That's what led me to a to do list! Almost an hour wasted literally doing nothing (not that thinking is bad, it's not, I still spend plenty of time doing it, but there's no need for me to stand around figuring out what to do next instead of having a plan of action that I wrote up yesterday and charging forward! Then I get to spend more time with my kids and husband after completing my To Do's :) )
#3. Rinse and Repeat--There's a Japanese Proverb that says, "Beginning is easy. Continuing is hard." My sentiments exactly! Don't just do this once or twice and then write it off. If you want a successful life, you have to change the way you do things. If you want to get healthy, you have to change the way you eat. If you want to catch a rainbow trout, you have to have a certain bait. You see where I'm going with these analogies? If you're unhappy with your life--MAKE A CHANGE! And then keep doing what is successful and modify what is unsuccessful.
Just never, ever stop. A friend of mine once pointed out that in Texas, Highway 45 runs all the way from DFW to Houston. And it doesn't matter if you go 50 miles an hour or 5 miles an hour--you'll get to Houston. Just don't lay down and don't turn around.