Not Enough Time?
We all want more of it, yet we all waste a ton of it. Time. That crazy intangible thing that seems to treat each person, each situation, a little differently. I grab my iphone to check my calendar for the day and a tiny notification bar reads, "Mary commented on your post". So I click and open up the app to get updated about that important thing I posted about when I was NOT reading the research article I downloaded to my laptop. It reads, "Cool. I will call you tomorrow." But now I am in. Sucked into reading and clicking and scrolling away until I realize I am wasting time. What was I doing? Oh yeah, planning my day. I never have enough time to get anything done! What is on my schedule today….and I grab my iphone, again, to check my calendar. That is how to waste 28 minutes.
I have read (at least started) many books on managing time. They all have great suggestions, some I try, others I forget, and a few stick. I found that I was wasting hours every week trying to figure out a way to not waste hours every week. Ugh. Then I bought an audible version of a book and listened to it while driving. Woohoo! I time management double win! Thankfully it was a great book, but unfortunately, it was difficult to make notes because I was driving. Add to the don't text and drive movement; don't try to figure out the voice memo app while driving. A few ideas stuck and I will stop wasting your time with these stories and tell you what seems to work for me.
First off, I hate getting up early. I don't hate mornings, I just really don't want to get out of bed. Once I am up and have a cup of coffee, I am ok. Many of the time management books and articles say you should get up an hour earlier than everyone else and you will get a ton done before your average day begins. This is true, but for me, not a reliable time to plan important tasks. So I decided to plan my somewhat fun tasks for me early morning time. I check some emails, catch up on social media and current events, and take some notes if I run into some information I need to focus on later. Sometimes this works great and really improves my productivity and focus for the day. But sometimes it just opens up a dozen more things for me to think about or get side tracked about throughout the day.
I have also read about chunking time together. This is a great concept. Just list all the things that you do on a weekly basis and then chunk the tasks together into groups to get them done more efficiently. Like all your errands chunked together so you spend an hour and a half once a week rather than 30-45 minutes several times a week running each errand. Or do all of the administrative tasks on your computer at a set time instead of popping open the laptop each time a task comes up. This one is a little tougher to get set up and I never seem to think of all the things to chunk together and end up have a couple chunks of tasks that I can figure out if they should be combined or rearranged. Still, it helps a little.
One of my favorite suggestions is to set a timer. I set a time for 25-45 minutes and focus on only one task. I hit it hard because I have limited minutes to focus on it. I get some really big things started in that timed period. Sometimes I even get some things completed. The worst part about the timer is that it seems to beep just as I am in the middle of some really great progress. So I added the snooze option to this tactic. It didn't take long for the snooze to become 5 snoozes and there went another 25 minutes. This time management stuff takes discipline.
I could go on for hours (in 25 minute snoozed increments) about more suggestions, tactics and ideas on time management. But instead I will breakdown what I am doing right now that seems to be working fairly well.
For about 15 minutes every evening I get out my schedule to prepare for the next day. I look at my calendar for tomorrow and the rest of the week (and sustain my Facebook obsession). I set out the items I will need for my appointments the next day. I set out clothes, client files, work materials, errands list, and vital items such as my wallet, datebook, and other items I need for the day.
I grab my notebook and plan the next day in reverse. I start with the evening and split up each hour with a task. Here is an example:Monday- to do: 9-10pm Read and go to bed 8-9pm prepare for tomorrow and the week, schedule social media posts for business, work on photos 7-8pm dishes and meal planning for tomorrow 6-7pm time with family 5-6pm cook and eat dinner 3-5pm workout, shower, work on client files 2-3pm appt with client 1-2pm Catch up hour 12-1pm ppt presentation project 11-12pm presentation emails 10-11am yoga 9-10am organize ppt and edit text 8-9am organize ppt and edit text, make sure kids get on the bus for school 7-8am make breakfast and lunch for family and send them off 6-7am shower, blog, brainstorm blog topics. Another way I work is like this: Say I am working on 3 main projects; A, B, & C. I breakdown each project into 3-5 tasks; A1, A2, A3, B1, etc. 830-930am: 20 min timer Task A1, then B1, then C1 930-10am: break 10-11am: 20 min timer Task A2, then B2, then C2 11-1130: Lunch 1130-12-30 Task A3 then B3 then C3 1230-1pm break 1-2pm task A1, then A2, then A3 2-230 break
Basically over 6 hours I spent 4 hours on my important projects. I spent 1:40 on Project A, 1 hour on project B, and 40 minutes on Project C.
I don’t know what will work for you, but if you find those black holes in your day that seem to suck you into doing unproductive, manage those first. I would love to hear your time management tactics.
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