5 Time Management Practices
Do you get distracted a lot, have lots of meetings, or the unexpected happens a bit too regularly. Whatever the reason, these 5 time management tips might help you to achieve what you need to, not only for a successful business, but for your sanity.
- SCHEDULE IT ALL
Don’t be put off at the first step. Sounds like a massive task right? Maybe. But only the first time you do it. If you find that you have a clear goal to achieve at the start of the week, then wonder how you didn’t have time to complete the task by Friday, have a look at where your time was actually spent. If you had scheduled just your major tasks into the week, like big projects or client appointments, but not your planning time, admin time, phone calls, meetings, tending to the kids, etc. then you’re not going to be able to have control of your time.
Everything you do in your working day takes time, down to replying to an email. So if it’s practical for you to block out half an hour every morning and afternoon to reply to emails, this may be a more effective use of your time, rather then being distracted by them throughout the day. An alternative might be to reply to each email as soon as it comes in, so as not to allow them to pile up and cause stress at the end of the day. Do what works best for your situation.
One thing I like to do is to use the first half hour of every new week to review my to-do list for the week and for the day. Then I just need around 10 minutes every morning thereafter to review the to do list. I can then schedule out any additional time that might be required that week. Meetings are usually scheduled, but scheduling 15 mins before or after the meeting might also be handy for prep before the meeting and putting the outcomes into action following the meeting.
So you see where I’m going with this? If you block out times in your daily calendar to undertake the tasks that matter the most and sticking to those times, then you’re far more likely to achieve more during the week.
- TIME YOURSELF
This might sound over the top, but it’s amazing what you can achieve if you know you only have half an hour to do it? Like when someone says they’re going to drop by unexpectedly, and you manage to do 3 hours worth of housework in 20 minutes? So if you’ve given yourself 30 minutes to put a proposal together, take note of when you start the task and try to finish it within the allocated time.
Obviously, be realistic, but the more you do this, the more you’ll get to know exactly how long tasks take, allowing you to schedule your week out even more accurately. It can also minimise distractions (like scrolling Instagram) if you’ve given yourself a deadline!
There will be times that there seems an endless amount of tasks and you’re thinking ‘I’ve got soo much to do!’. In these moments, it’s a good time to sit down and clearly map out what the priorities are. Start with asking yourself which is the most important thing you need to achieve that week or that day.
The most important thing might be to bring in income. If that’s your most important achievement, then focus your tasks around income generating tasks. If the most important thing is to get your tax done, then put talking to an accountant at the top of your list, along with blocking out time to gather all the necessary documents for the accountant.
Once you focus on what is important, or ‘the bigger picture’, you can start to break up the tasks into chunks and schedule times to achieve it. Put anything else that isn’t on that list into the following week.
- USE A TO-DO / TASK SYSTEM
What kind of to-do list you use is up to you – different methods and systems suit different people. There are apps and online systems, whiteboards and the good ol’ pen and paper. Here is a quick list of just some of the options:
Wrike – this is an online system that can be used by yourself and your team. You can create a job, and then a list of tasks within the job, which can be ticked off as they’re completed. The entire job starts in the ‘New’ board, gets moved to ‘In Progress’ and satisfyingly gets put in the ‘Completed’ board when it’s finished. You can also put a job on ‘Hold’.
This system is great if you’re working with someone else on the same job as you can both keep track on exactly what is happening at the same time. Anyone can add comments and also links to files.
The free version does all of this, or you can pay to unlock more features, such as a Dashboard and Calendar view.
Bullet Journal – some research is required when first starting out to understand what you need to do. Essentially, you only need to buy a notepad or predesigned bullet journal, and you set up an index, tasks, calendar views and your own symbols for what each task means.
Some people swear by the bullet journal, but it’s not for everyone. For an overview, this is a great video that explains it. Or you could just use a to do list for your every day if your work requires ticking off a lot of little tasks that change on a daily or weekly basis. There’s nothing wrong with using a simple method like this – as long as it works for you!
Traditional Task Board – if you’re working with a team or a visual person and want to see your tasks in front of you, a whiteboard / blackboard / coloured sticky note system might be for you. You can slice up your whiteboard into daily tasks, weekly goals, monthly goals and notes.
- GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA (EXCEPT WHEN YOU USE IT FOR WORK)
For many, getting distracted by Instagram and Facebook is a daily struggle. It’s especially hard if you do use it quite a lot for work. Try and be conscious of the time being spent, making it strictly work related, then maybe allocate some time on your lunch break to look.
When you’re back on “work time” close the app/browser until another designated time comes up in your schedule. Hours upon hours can be lost watching cats, babies, crafts, celebrities etc., so just think, if that’s not making your business step up or it’s not bringing in income, then stop, and save it for your downtime.
Article written by Louise Theo, Co-founder of Webbie & Divine Digital, with 15+ years experience in the digital advertising industry.