What time!? A 20something’s tips for managing time and priorities

By TeKisha Rice

I will be 26 next month, and adulting has hit me like a freight truck over the past few years. You have to manage your money, time, priorities, and energy all while eating healthy, working out, spending time with friends, drinking enough water, staying aware of current events, and engaging in self care. I’m tired already, sis. I don’t have it all figured out but I’ve boiled it down to two things: time management and priorities.

WHAT TIME!? I often hear people say that “everybody has just as much time in a day as Beyoncé.” As much as I love Bey, I am not her – nor do I have the resources to outsource the things I look forward to least, such as washing dishes and doing my taxes. We all know comparison is the enemy of progress, but if you are going to compare yourself to anyone, it should be to those who are right there with you, facing similar challenges and constraints. So, no, I do not have as much time in the day as Beyoncé, but I do have as much time as many of my peers. What am I going to do with it? The strategy I’ve found most effective for making progress on goals is time blocking. It takes a solid 30 minutes to an hour of planning depending on what all you have to do. It’s actually quite simple. First, write a list of all the things to have to do, should do, and want to do: work tasks, home tasks, personal tasks, social tasks, the whole nine! I love lists, but this isn’t your traditional to-do list. I am the queen of writing a to-do list and never looking at it again. This leads me to the next step, assign each task a time and put it in your planner/calendar. Need to be in the office for a meeting at 10? Block that time off, but also block off how much travel time you need before that, and all the time you need to get ready – with a little cushion if possible.

Did I hear you say there’s not time enough time for everything? You’re probably right. Unless you’re able to outsource things that need to get done that you don’t want to do yourself (e.g., the dishes… there’s always more!) you’re going to have to figure out what’s a priority and what can wait until tomorrow, or the next day, or even next week. Right now, the thing I’m delaying that should be done soon is my dog’s bath. She smells like corn chips and sweaty feet. BUT she doesn’t get on the furniture and doesn’t like baths much either, so that can wait at least a week.

Importantly, all the time you invest in trying to manage your time will be wasted if you lack the motivation or self-discipline to do what you need to do when you said you’d do it. Think of your schedule as a list of promises you made to yourself. You don’t want to break those! Self-discipline is self-love too! Speaking of self-love, it’s important to note that time management is not always the answer. Sometimes our tendency to avoid doing certain tasks is simply a manifestation of underlying emotional distress. Can’t bring yourself to washing those dishes (can ya’ll tell I don’t have a dishwasher?)? Take some time to check in with yourself. How are you feeling? What’s behind these avoidance behaviors? Have you taken care of your basic needs (i.e., food, rest, social interaction)? Usually it’s okay to not do that task today. Make time to do the things that bring you joy – and if you don’t know what those are then block of some time to explore new hobbies, books, places, and/or recipes!

Transitioning to adulthood is overwhelming! As we navigate being independent we also have to be responsible to our obligations, our things, and ourselves. Don’t grow weary; what needs to get done will get done, and ultimately, we all end up where we are supposed to be – in due time.

TeKisha Rice is a Contributing Writer for the Pedestal Projejct, LLC. TeKisha is an Alabama native and current PhD student at UIUC, Her life centers on Christ, family, friends, food, and her dog JoJo.

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