Write Down Everything You Do in a Day
For one day, keep a notebook with you and write down how you spend every minute of that day, in chunks, of course. What time did you get up? How long did it take you to get ready for the day? Breakfast? Email? Puttering?
This is an obnoxious exercise, but I promise it will be remarkably enlightening in helping you achieve balance. Most people spend a lot of time doing unimportant things. When you raise your awareness of your own activities, you can make different choices, get a lot more done, and balance school, work, and life more easily.
Observe an Efficient Person
Now that you know how you spend the hours in a day, find the most efficient person you know and watch what they do and how they do it. What kind of planning system do they use? How do they schedule their time? How do they combine tasks? How do they balance?
If this isn’t appropriate in your situation, ask your efficient role model if you can have a few minutes to interview them about their time management.
Ask for Feedback
Asking for feedback about anything is an underused and extremely valuable tool. Ask someone you trust, someone who knows how you manage time, to give you feedback about your activities. We all develop habits that become completely blind to us over time.
A word of caution here: it’s easy to get upset when we hear criticism. Remember that you have asked for feedback. No matter what response you receive, say thank you. Don’t argue, and avoid being defensive. Take the information, reflect on it for a day, and consider the possibility that it’s true. If you don’t agree with it after you’ve reflected on it for a day, let it go. It’s just one person’s opinion.