Lately, it seems like time has been my enemy. I have so many things I want to do and there’s just not enough time to get it all done!
But if I’m being honest, the problem isn’t really time itself, the real problem is my poor time management habits – and talking to you guys, I find that a lot of you feel the same.
Tell me if this has happened to you – You feel disorganized and frustrated, so you buy a book on organization and time management. Then, the book sits there unopened because you’re too unorganized and can’t find the time to read it.
Let me help you with what I’ve learned. In the name of keeping it simple, I’m going to give you some tips that can help you get serious about time management and get your workload moving in the right direction.
1, Get a Day Planner or Calendar
I used to have post-its stuck all around my computer monitor, a desk calendar and a whole bunch of little note papers all over the place. Appointments stuck to the fridge with magnets, to-do lists on my tablet… Then I started using a day planner. When I stick to it and have all my schedule in one place, it makes a world of difference.
2. Create a Daily To-Do List
I keep a “Master” to do list, and every night before bed, I transfer two or three of the most urgent things to my daily list for the next day. I usually have a couple of long term projects that I break up into tasks and will work on those, plus my “every day” tasks like social media sharing and so on. You can do this on paper or on your computer – whichever works best for you.
3. Read your to-do list first thing.
Don’t go on Facebook, don’t open an email – first thing, check your to-do list so you can start creating a schedule in your mind of what needs to go first.
4. Start Work Immediately
You should get started working within 5 minutes of sitting at the computer. Instead, too many of us putz around, checking Facebook, email, Twitter… before you know it, it’s lunch time and you haven’t touched the first thing on your list. As you work, avoid “multi-tasking” – pick one task, and see it through before starting the next. Constantly switching gears between tasks slows you down more than you think.
5. Mid-Day Review
Check over your list at lunch time – see how well you’ve fared. Do you need to move things around or is everything going well? Pat yourself on the back for what you’ve finished! Pro-Tip: Do one or two quick tasks first and mark them off – it’ll get you going and make you feel like you’ve accomplished something!
6. Day’s End
Anything that didn’t get finished, transfer to the next day. If you have something that keeps “not getting finished” and has been moved to the next day a bunch of times, you may want to reevaluate just how important doing that thing is. Maybe you can toss it back to the master list and come back to it at a later time.
7. Delegate what you can
If you really have more work than you can do, consider hiring a VA to help you get some of the basics done. They can be great for scheduling social media posts and sharing, scheduling your pre-written blog posts and sorting email to give you more time to do the things YOU need to do.
8. Put Your phone in another room.
Get rid of distractions. Let voice mail pick up for an hour, then take a break and check your messages. If you have an office space, close the door, let your family know you need some time without disturbances. Promise the kids some “mommy time” after you finish.
9. Say No
Don’t be afraid to turn down a job when you don’t have time. We all have a limit and there are only so many hours in a day. Don’t frustrate yourself and your clients by biting off more than you have time for.
10. Get enough sleep.
Your whole day drags and it’s hard to focus when you’re working on a sleep deficit.