As this is my first blog for the year I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a very happy and prosperous 2016. If you are anything like me, you are no doubt wondering where the first six weeks of the year has gone already? A common theme in conversations I’ve had with clients is that life feels so much busier and time seems to be racing by with the frustrating feeling of not much being achieved. Perhaps you can relate?
You come into work early on a Monday to get a headstart on the week. Just as you are about to dive into your first task… the phone rings. On the other end is a client with a needed-it-done-yesterday type of problem. Urgh. By the time you get back to your original task it’s 2pm… and the phone is ringing again. Sound familiar?
Here are few ways to help you regain control of your time.
- Make time tangible
A common mistake we make is being overly optimistic about what we think we can finish and how long each project/task can take. Instead, think about organising time in the same way you would space. A disorganised cupboard for example is the same as a disorganised day. They are both finite spaces. With a closet, you might be trying to shove everything you can into that space and the same can be said of a schedule. You might be shovelling tasks into any particular time in no particular order. Both will result in disaster.
Put tasks into blocks of time. For example, in a small office work on marketing/sales strategy from 8.00am to noon; operations from noon to 3.00pm. At home focus on housework in the morning; cooking/meal prep from noon to 3.00pm then kids activities in the afternoon.
Without this ‘time map’ or ‘schedule’ you will always be responding to the thing that is screaming the loudest and not necessarily what is the most important.
To be successful you must be realistic and yes, there are going to be times when you have to deal with pressing issues but at least you know what you are rearranging and you can then think about when you will make up that time. It will force you to do everything more efficiently and be more selective about what you put into your time.
- Stop sabotaging your own schedule
Snoozing five times thru your alarm before getting up in the morning; spending time on social media looking at pictures instead of doing something that will help you reach your daily goals are all ways of sabotaging your time. Treat your time with respect, as you would an appointment with the doctor, lawyer or accountant. That doesn’t mean you should ignore others’ requests but put your one thing first and take care of the rest afterwards.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
- Live by the four D’s
This is the mantra of organising guru Julie Morgenstern and one that can apply to all aspects of life – it’s one I swear by to help with the management of emails as well as time. We you realise you have more tasks than time there are four things you can do:
- Delete things
- Diarise things – schedule something for a more appropriate time
- Diminish things – consider a quicker way to get something done, maybe call someone instead of emailing them when you need a fast answer
- Delegate things – if you only have three hours, think about who can do the task better, faster or good enough!
- Stop giving away your time
Nowadays, a constant and insane pressure is on us to always be accessible. You are afraid that you might miss something you don’t answer the phone now. But giving people unrestricted access to you allows others to take control of your time. Each time you answer a call, respond to an email etc., you stop work, you beak the flow of your creativity and you kill your focus. And… the more accessible you are, the less people will value your time.
- Hire your weakness
Even the smallest of businesses need help from time to time and in most cases, a lack of delegation leads to unnecessary stress. Hire out what you don’t like to do or are not good at doing.
How much time do you spend writing cheques? Hopefully the answer is zero, in which case you are on the right path. Make sure you automate your bill payments and anything you think is mundane and repetitive. It may take time to set up new systems and or even train yourself how to do these things but it will come back and save you time later on.