I’m constantly battling with time. There is never enough of it. I always have multiple activities competing for it. And once it is gone, I can never get it back again.
These are my simple time management tips to help you be more productive in your day.
Work to your natural rhythms
Figure out when you are most productive and make sure that your schedule works to that. Identify which activities fit best with your energy levels and build your schedule around that. If you try and do hard stuff when your energy is low, life and your business will always feel like a struggle. I call this the energy dance. Work with your natural daily energy cycle and move and flow through your day simply and easily. If you are a lark, work hard in the morning. If you are a night owl, sleep until 10 and work until late. The great thing about being a micro business owner is that you get to choose!
Plan before you begin
Decide what you are going to do and when you are going to get it done by. Know what your critical path is (the activities that need to be completed first) and put those milestones into a simple plan.
Always work from a list.
When you feel yourself getting distracted, refer back to the list of activities that you need to achieve that day and that week. This will keep you focused.
Have a diary that you use to schedule your activities for the day and when you are going to do them. Schedule in your downtime if you know you need it to manage your energy. Schedule in fun so that you can give yourself a mental break to be more creative. Whatever you do and need to do to ensure your success, schedule it. If it isn’t scheduled, it doesn’t get done.
This is what my schedule currently looks like:[6:00 – 7:00] Writing (I know it’s crazy, but this really is my most creative time) [7:00 – 9:00] house time / me time / get kids to school time [9:00 – 12:00] Work – only schedule meetings during this time once per week [12:00– 1:00] Break time / Me time / home time / exercise time [1:00 – 3:00] Work [3:00 – 5:30 ] Kid time – food and homework [5:30 – 7:00 ] Work [7:00 – 8:00] Kid time – bed time [8:00 – 10:00] Husband and chillout time
The Law of Three (a la Brian Tracy)
Write down a list of the activities that you need to accomplish in a week. What are the most important things? What if you could only do three of those things? Ask yourself if those 3 activities will really move your business or your project forward.
Bin the stuff that doesn’t.
Chunk your time
Split your time into chunks. Decide how long you are going to spend on an activity and then work to that time. Turn off all distractions during this period so that the activity gets 100% of your attention.
Set deadlines (and stick to them)
The work will fill the amount of time that you give it. If you really want to achieve something fast, then give yourself a challenging deadline and put it out there. Tell other people that they can expect a result at a particular time and you are much more likely to deliver.
If you have activities that you do over and over again, or need to have the same conversation with different people, then create systems that will make the work much simpler and easier. This will mean that you are not having to do the thinking each time. Systems can be as simple as having templates in place, scripts to work from or a simple mind map that lists out the key activities.
Check in with yourself daily and weekly and track your progress. Did you do what you said you were going to do yesterday? Was it important? Does it need to be done today? How are you doing against your schedule? Are you staying on course or going off track. Learn from what you are doing and what you aren’t doing.
Create a dashboard
Set some simple daily and weekly targets that you want to achieve and monitor the numbers. Don’t be afraid of them as they are clues about where you are in your business. Without knowing how you are doing against a set of key criteria, you won’t know where you are in your business and what you need to spend more time doing.
Create visual clues
Put up a poster where you can tick of each goal accomplished. Give yourself large scale visual reminders about what you have decided to do in your business. A friend of mine, Joanna Penn has a big chart on her wall to remind her that her main goal every day is to write 1000 words. She gives herself a big tick each day that she achieves this goal. And leaves it blank when she doesn’t. This shows her that she is keeping on track against her book writing target.
Create space for you to work
It’s critical that you have a work space that feels comfortable for you to work in. I’m not going to tell you that you need to carve out a space in your house where none exists, but it’s really important that you have a place where you can work that is conducive to getting stuff done. Make sure that you have a place that you can put all your work stuff away at the end of the day so that you can truly relax. It will free you up mentally to be more productive.
Take breaks regularly
Your brain and creativity will thank you. Working continuously without breaks is exhausting and your work will suffer. Go for a walk. Do some exercise. Meet a friend of a coffee. Make sure you time box it but build in down time.
Learn to say no
Say no at least 4 times a day. Decide that you are going to take control of your time and you decide your agenda, not others. It’s not selfishness, it’s self preservation.
Set clear boundaries.
I got this from the webinar that we did with Wendy Kerr earlier this month – when 9:00am starts… stop doing laundry and the dishes and cleaning the house and doing the grocery shopping. Respect that your work takes priority during whatever work hours you set and don’t deviate. I know it’s hard, and I know as a woman that you are good at multi-tasking but you would be surprised how much time those little things take up in your day and away from your business!
If you have other tips that you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them. Please share them in the comments below.