Time Management Tips Which Helped Me
Having a busy schedule is something each of us is all too familiar with. Do you ever look at someone doing the absolute most and wonder “how on earth are you fitting all of that into the same 24 hours as me?!” and end up feeling completely overwhelmed with it all?
To be honest, that used to be me! That's not to say I'm not totally "fixed" but I certainly have a better handle on things now.
Whether it was that I was turning up late to appointments, that I was late in delivering work or completing tasks beyond the deadline, I was constantly being run by my diary and I couldn’t keep up. Being late and delivering work late was one thing, but the guilt that came with it was a completely different aspect which I struggled with the most. When you are a small business owner you come into contact with every person in your business including customers, other business contacts and if you are lucky enough to have them, other team members. It's not a huge faceless corporation whereby if you let someone down, you could get away with not seeing them, or not interacting with them for a few weeks, giving you enough time for the guilt to wear off. When you are in a small business how you interact and engage with others is very real and so letting people down, is not something that happens lightly without any pangs of guilt. I knew I needed to get on top of my work but I just couldn’t seem to figure out how to do it.
I was finding that I constantly had a diary full of things to do which seemed achievable at the beginning of the day, but then I’d find that I was always running behind. & then like that, I figured it out. It dawned on me what my problem was. I’d check my diary from day to day which was always way too late. I couldn’t plan effectively and every appointment I had in my diary would be a surprise the morning I checked what my plans were for that day. That awakening gave me the chance to look at ways of improving my time management and I’ve listed a few things below which I’ve found have helped me and which I hope will help you to realign and shift a few things in your approach.
Now it’s going to sound like I’m saying check your diary every day, which essentially, I am. But the gem of wisdom is in the basis on which you’re checking your diary. Stick with me, it will make sense at the end.
30: 7: 1
Try checking your diary at the beginning of each month to see how the next 28- 30 days are going to pan out. That will give you an idea as to whether or not it will be a busy month, how many weekends you’ve got free and how focused you need to be. It will seem daunting and might make you want to crawl into bed, but you will be prepared. You know what you’re dealing with. You can plan.
Then take a look at your diary on a Sunday afternoon/evening to see what the week ahead looks like. This will give you a chance to see what new things have cropped up, what things have been cancelled and you can prepare mentally for the week ahead. This feels a little less daunting than the 30 day check as a week is a lot more manageable. This is a great time to put things in place for that week, make sure you’ve got your wardrobe sorted and hopefully prevents you from needing to make any last-minute dashes to the dry cleaners.
Lastly about two-four hours before you go to sleep each night, take a quick peak at your diary to remind yourself of what’s happening tomorrow. Plan your journey if you are going somewhere different, check for travel disruptions, pack your bag (& lunch) and also decide what you’re going to wear. The check the night before is great, because it will help to motivate you in the morning to wake up because you know your purpose for the day ahead. You won’t want to be late if you know all you’ve got planned as every hour will count (assuming you haven’t got a day of lounging pencilled in, which is absolutely fine and wholly necessary every now and then). If you’re really organised plan an exciting and tasty breakfast which will be an added incentive to waking up with something to look forward to.
So, while you do have to check your diary every night, the important part not to miss is the fact that with each check, your focus is different.
The monthly check is a loose overview of everything at hand, this can be a little daunting but at least you know what you’re dealing with.
The weekly check allows you to prepare on a slightly more manageable scale, you can prepare your washing accordingly, do your meal prep and think about any meetings you may want to rearrange or cancel if it’s all looking like too much to manage.
The night before it’s the last reminder and motivator so that you can wake up with intention and a clear understanding of what you’ve got to achieve the following day.
Depending on your schedule and what works for you, you can of course tweak the timings here and there, maybe doing the 7:1 combo, or a 30:1 combo on quiet months.
Either way, make the most out of your diary and make sure you are running things and things are not running you.
Thanks for reading, Jay.
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