First of all, congratulations you! You work for yourself, that’s awesome. Many people don’t even have the luxury of ‘total freedom’ from cranky bosses and limited annual leave days. Time management may not be your strong point (yet), however, the entrepreneurs, small business owners, freelancers and ‘work from home’ types, in my opinion, have this life skill down pat.
The grass is in fact, greener
I’ve worked for someone else for the majority of my life. Of course, there are pros and cons. I’m not saying there’s no upside to coming home without the responsibility of the business’ overall performance. Working for someone else can often completely end, as soon as you leave the office. You don’t have to take the late night call or work after hours, but often we do anyway! It’s in our nature to ‘go the extra mile’. And of course, this is much to our detriment, when it’s for someone else’s bottom line.
I know people who stay up all hours needing to finish a project, stressing over things that have gone wrong or issues that have come up out of the blue. There’s no one to turn to but yourself, it’s all you. However, when weighed up against the alternative of NOT ‘being your own boss’, I must say the grass is indeed greener. If you want to go somewhere, you go! If you want to take a break – you take it! If you want to start a little later, you can do exactly that! The flexibility of when and indeed how you work, is what is most appealing.
On the contrary, if you don’t manage your time effectively, you can find hours wasted with your head in a laptop, then nothing to show for your time invested. Believe it or not, it is more common that you might imagine. With social media and online marketing designed now to steal your attention, it’s easy to find your mind wandering and your focus skewed.
Getting on with it
If it’s just you, your laptop and a ‘job to do’, the easiest way to tackle it would be to just ‘get on with it!’ right? So easy, surely! Just sit there, uninterrupted and get on with it. Hmm, is that actually the most effective methodology? When you take a step back, what if, you have enclosed yourself in to a room and gotten on with the wrong thing? Your time may have in fact, have been better spent doing another thing on the ‘to-do list’ that we didn’t write out? What if by tacking something else, the work were to flow a whole lot easier by ticking something else off first?
The long to-do lists
Extra long to-do lists are actually counter-productive in my opinion. Working without a to-do list in my own workload gives me the heebie-jeebies, but the stupidly long unmanageable ones, I do have a bone to pick with. Ok so, let’s be real, If it’s going to take you 6 months to even get to that task, is it really necessary to be there right now? Listed there. Allowing yourself to feel as though you are snowed under a mountain of workload, with a list that rolls out like a ‘scroll’ to the floor?
Maybe put that somewhere else for now. Focusing your time and energy on the bite sized tasks you can effectively manage TODAY. If you write absolutely everything out with no strategy, you will just feel overwhelmed and unproductive.
Take a step back
Step back. There’s so much to be said for strategizing on how you tackle your workload. Do one thing, do it well and then tick it off the list. You then know, you don’t need to go back and check over things you’ve already done. You aren’t ticking it off the extensively long list just because you want to try to show, that you have made a dent in it! Have a think about what you can do today which may seem small, but is in fact the essential foundations being laid out. The foundations set for the success of your greater and much bigger plans for tomorrow and beyond.
I have looked in to various sources to decide on what I consider the most important elements time time management, however I continue to read up form other sources and take little bit’s from each. i particularly enjoyed this Guest Post on Entrepreneur.com
So let’s delve in to exactly how to manage your time effectively, like a boss.
1. Write down your short, mid and long-term goals
Goals are essential to time management. For the specifics on exactly how to effectively organise and plan your goals, I have set the strategy out in detail here Goal Setting
This is such a simple but effective tool. Without them, you end up running around, with no clear vision on what you are running around to achieve. The impacts are then reflected in short-term results, as well as the blurred understanding of what you are looking to achieve. Have a clear understanding of where you are going, so you can be granular in your day-to day as to how to get there.
prioritization and time management are best friends. Write out the things that are on your mind and potentially stressing you out. You think you have a mountain to tackle? Ok great, lets see how much of a mountain it really is! List it, and take a look at all these things you need to do. Then look at it again, that big old’ list of yours, and number them 1-5 on priority.
1 is “THIS MUST BE DONE TODAY OR IM IN SERIOUS STRIFE”. 5 is “one day, I’d love to get around to doing something like this, such a lovely idea but doesn’t add any immediate value to achieving my short mid or long-term goals”.
After you have completed your numbering
Once you have everything numbered, all the 1’s are this morning, all the 2’s are this afternoon if possible. Your plan is looking too full? Put some tasks in the next available slot, and the rest are for later. They are not gone, they are not forgotten, they are for later. So release them from your mind today while we tackle the 1’s.
3. Day planner
I cannot live without a day planner. It’s not fancy, not expensive, however is essential to time management. Sometimes, I’ll just write 8am through to 6pm on the back of scrap paper.
Literally, just put a couple of words in each time slot throughout the day.
For you, this will be your tasks from highest priority to maybe some priority 2’s. Make the tasks achievable. Check in with yourself every half an hour and see if you are on track.
You know better than anyone, whether or not you are putting too much pressure on yourself. Is that task actually achievable to be completed within 1 hour?
The planner keeps you on a general schedule, which of course can be changed, you can just check in to see if you are in line with your own expectations. How easy is it to drift off in to la-la land with one task, get stuck on something and it consumes your entire day? An awesome plan keeps you accountable to your own realistically set expectations. Which in my mind, absolutely, makes you more productive.
I have looked in to various sources to decide on what I personally consider the most important elements of time management, thie things that work for me. I truly believe it’s an ongoing life skill that we should all continue to eork on and develop. I’m always reading up on other sources, taking tips and advice from each. I particularly enjoyed this Guest Post on Entrepreneur.com
Which was written by Mario Peshev, enjoy!
Please comment on any tips and trick you have that really work for you, and share to anyone you know is juggling 100 plates at once!