In the video linked here, I offer my take on time management. The information offered in this video is likely helpful to most people but maybe especially helpful to new business owners. I also offer you a summary of the information below…
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Time Management is Really Priority Management
How to know what is a priority?
Ask what happens if this thing doesn’t get done
- Is this project / task time sensitive (what is the cost if it doesn’t get done?)
- Does this project / task have a promise or agreement attached to it? (to yourself and others)
- Does this project / task align with my core values (self or business)
- Is this project / task an IPA -or Income Producing Activities
What to do when there are no clear task deadlines and EVERYTHING feels like a priority
- Tackle Low Hanging Fruit (LHF) first – this may help you get into the groove or flow. Watch out – be sure not to ONLY do the LHF
- Choose the tasks that feel “fun” or easy to do. Lean on your strengths
“Touch It Once”
- “Touch It Once” is a philosophy highlighted in a book called Taming the Paper Tiger by Barbara Hemphill.
- The idea is to get into the habit of “touching things once” – this means the first time you “touch something” respond, throw it away, put it away, file it, etc
- When you pick up the mail – touch it once by throwing away the mail that is “trash”, put relevant mail into the “action needed” pile, handle the mail that can be in that moment.
- When you open an email – respond to it immediately (whenever you can), flag it, delete it, or file it away to a folder so you can find it later when needed.
Take the Time You Need to Get Organized
- A clear or clean space promotes a clear mind
- Avoid any negative stories you might have around being an organized person or NOT being an organized person. Self-awareness is key – do you have a cycle when it comes to organization? If so, lean into that. For example, do you like to “spring clean”? Or get organized once a week, a month or once a quarter?
- If it feels supportive to you, schedule a day or afternoon to clean things up, get organized periodically. Value this task as much as you value other tasks on your list.
Delegate Whenever Possible
- This is often easier said than done AND this is a skill that can add so much value to your life and your schedule if you can master it.
- To identify opportunities to delegate tasks look for projects or tasks that:
- Do NOT play to your strengths
- Require less skill / knowledge to complete
- Feel heavy
- Are not exciting or aligned with your passions
- You have said “yes” to out of a sense of duty – yes, we all have some of these on our list but our list should NOT be entirely filled with these tasks
- A living, breathing to do list enables you to track your progress when you complete or check items off your list. You can look back and recognize the work you have done.
- Many of us often write our “to-do’s” on a notepad or blank piece of paper and once we have completed the things on that list we throw it away. When we do this, we are throwing away documentation of our efforts which may leave us feeling like we haven’t made progress..
- Being able to see what you have accomplished will support you in seeing your accomplishments realistically and giving yourself credit for those accomplishments.
- When we write a to-do list we are writing this list based on what we know or understand in that moment but the reality is that as we move throughout a day or month things happen and we need to shift our priorities.
- It is important that we are agile when we need to be. This is a strength.
- Don’t be afraid to migrate tasks as you move forward. Don’t create a negative story around shifting tasks and deadlines. (I realize this advice goes against all the rhetoric out there about productivity and time management AND I believe there is more value in our ability to pivot than to stubbornly stick with a course that may need to evolve for good reasons)
Leverage Reminders and Timeblocks
- I don’t know about you but I can’t remember anything to save my life and because of that, I use reminders whenever possible. I put them in my planner and I put them in my phone.
- Leverage time blocks but only if this resonates and feels supportive.
- Time blocks can be used a few ways but here are two:
- Use to journal or document what you accomplished or worked on in a day so you can look back later and recognize what you accomplished
- Use to schedule your tasks for the next day (or next few days) – identify the task and estimate the time you would need to complete the task. Don’t be afraid to pivot, migrate tasks or adjust as you move through the day
Self-Awareness – The “Art” of Getting Things Done
Allow Yourself to Do Things Differently – Your HOW may look different
- Get away from what the world says “productivity” or “time management” looks like and tune into what that really looks like for you. (And YES ignore my advice as well if it doesn’t work or resonate with you – DISCARD IT)
- What is realistic for YOU and YOUR unique situation?
- Give yourself the grace you deserve and have realistic expectations of yourself and your situation.
- Being real about your circumstances and TRULY accepting the constraints or opportunities that exist in your situation. For example, if you are a parent or a single mom YOUR reality is going to be much different than a single person or an empty nester. Be ok with that. Get REAL with yourself about what is realistic for you to do in a day or a week. Whatever that is for you – accept it, embrace it and do your best not to create a negative story around it.
- Embrace your preferences when it comes to organizing yourself with planner layouts
- Do you love daily / weekly layouts or do they feel like a lot of work?
- Daily and weekly layouts go into a lot of details and are most useful when they are used everyday. If this feels supportive to you, lean into these tools. If this feels overbearing, ignore them or find planners without them.
- Do benefit from having a broader view of your work or does this perspective feel unfocused?
- If you only “check-in” with your planner a few times a month, consider leaning into quarterly or monthly layouts. If these feel too broad and unhelpful, ignore them or find another creative use for them.
- Do you love daily / weekly layouts or do they feel like a lot of work?
Creative, Right-Brained Mavens
- I have so many friends who are these super creative creatures who don’t feel supported by the high-level of structure that most planners offers. Here is my advice for these amazing humans
- Lean into high-level calendaring or just a blank notebook. (Avoid planners that stress daily or weekly layouts and trackers)
- Use color coding with markers or pens – make things fun!
- Find planners or notebooks that have lots of blank pages to allow for mind mapping, list making, doodling etc
- Lastly, don’t put pressure on yourself to fit into the “productivity box” that others will paint for you. Find your own way so that your creative gifts are not beat down by structure, rules and rhetoric.
Consider your relationship with structure. Do you prefer more or less structure in your day?
- Signs you might benefit from more structure
- More consistency in your day / schedule feels supportive.
- You prefer to be organized before you begin your work
- You prefer having a dedicated workspace
- Signs you might benefit from LESS structure and more flexibility
- You prefer your days to be flexible and space for variety
- Being overly scheduled feels restrictive
- You enjoy being flexible and working in different spaces throughout the day
- Play into your senses – what gets you in the mood or space to focus
- Vision – Do you like the sight of a visually appealing or organized workspace? Does it inspire you to have a vision board or inspiring image nearby? Do you like to write with colored pens vs. basic black?
- Smell – Do certain scents make a room feel better? Light candles or diffuse powerful essential oils
- Touch – If the way things feel is important to you, invest in a really nice work chair, wrap yourself in your favorite soft sweater – lean into your preferred tactile experience
- Sound – Do you work better in silence or do you prefer background music or white noise?
Physicality / Your Body
- Tune in and lean into your body’s natural cycle if you can
- What does your brain work best and you feel the most clear-headed?
- What are energy levels like throughout the day? Do you have the most energy in the morning or do you get a second wind after dinner?
- Which tasks give you energy? Which tasks / work are draining your energy? For tasks that drain your energy, consider delegating them if you can. If not, be strategic about when you work on these tasks. Leverage times of high energy and / or work on them for shorter work sprints.
Red Flags – Signs there is a bigger problem than feeling “un-motivated”
- If you are feeling energetically stuck and “should-ing” yourself….pay close attention to WHERE you are “should-ing” yourself? What tasks, actions, environments, commitments and jobs come to mind?
- If you look at your to-do list and a high percentage of tasks on that list feels heavy and you are “should-ing” yourself to do them – there is likely a bigger problem that needs to be addressed.
- Feeling stuck to a point where you just can’t work through something (beyond external obstacles, being naturally tired, stressed and overwhelmed, etc)
When encountering any red flags – it may be time to re-evaluate the path you are on.
- The current path or the goals you are working on may not be in alignment with your strengths and/ or core values (personally or professionally). Ask:
- Are you in the “right” (for you) job, career or business?
- Are you developing the “right” (for you) products or services?
- Are you doing the “thing” YOU want to do or are you doing something because someone (an expert, friend, partner etc) influenced you to do so?
Make a plan to pivot and change things up if the projects, tasks or work you are doing are no longer exciting to you.
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