Do you feel like there’s just never enough time to get your work done?
Do you feel overwhelmed by all your commitments and wonder how you’ll ever fit them all in?
We know from personal experience that it can be very stressful when you’re trying to manage your time between running a business and family commitments but this is not a permanent situation if you learn to take control!
The first step on managing your time and priorities is to recognize that you are in charge of your time and daily activities. So when you say you don’t have time to get that task completed, what you are really saying is “I choose not to get that task right now because other things are more important to me.”
Top tips for managing both your time and priorities.
Each of these methods can assist you in getting closer to your goal of becoming more effective with your time:
1. Learn to work with your biological clock
Each individual has a peak time of day when their energy is at its highest and concentration at its best. Determine which time of day is your peak performance time and plan your work accordingly. Keep meetings and routine tasks for other parts of the day when you have the choice. What part of the day is best for you to do a task which takes real concentration?
2. Learn to say “no”
It is not that saying the word is so difficult. It is more the feeling of guilt that many people experience as soon as they use the word. Try focusing on the important things that will get done because you used that two letter word to decline something which was not a part of your priorities. Looking at your past week, what are some things you should have said “no”?
3. Control the inputs into your life.
By this we mean removing distractions when you want to get down to work – just because someone requests your time, it doesn’t mean you have to give an immediate response. Most people would be surprised if someone reached in their wallet without asking and helped themselves to the money in there. But how different is that from letting others help themselves to your time? Take ownership of your own time and do not allow others to make commitments of your time without your permission. It is not selfish to keep others from squandering your time. Give your time freely when you want but don’t make the mistake of undervaluing this resource, or feeling guilty when you do not allow others to waste it. Think of a time recently when someone wasted your time. How could you have handled the situation better?
4. Protect your blocks
Think of your day as several large blocks of time (the morning block, afternoon block, after-dinner block) with the blocks separated by natural interruptions. Where you have control, keep your blocks whole, scheduling appointments and meetings, running errands at the beginning or end of a block rather than in the middle. Having an appointment in the middle of a block leaves little time at either end to tackle a major piece of work. Keeping your blocks of time as large as possible gives you a sense of having more available time.
Delegating means assigning the responsibility for a task (not just the work) to someone else. That means you no longer have to do the job, nor do you have to remind someone else to do it. Being able to delegate some tasks is a way of freeing up some of your time for the jobs that only you can do. You may have to use your standard shifting skill when you delegate. As someone else learns to do a task, do not be tempted to take over if they are not doing it quite right. You have to learn that “done” may be “good enough.”
6. Think in terms of buying time
There is an intimate relationship between time and money, where one can often be substituted for the other. The more hectic your schedule, the more reasonable it is to buy time by selecting goods and services that save you from investing time. Paying someone to mow your yard or clean your house are examples of purchasing time. What are some of the other ways you can or do buy some time?
7. Break down large jobs into manageable pieces
One of the sources of procrastination is that some tasks can seem too overwhelming to even begin. Learn to break down a large task into manageable pieces and then begin with a piece you know you can handle. The most challenging step on major undertakings is often the first one. Besides, you will have a greater sense of satisfaction as you complete each individual portion of the task, and this can keep you motivated to the end. Think of a major task you have ahead of you. How could you break it down into manageable pieces?
8. Reward yourself
Celebrate when a major task is completed or a major challenge is met. One of the problems with a hectic schedule is that you can be so busy that you fail to notice the completion of a major piece of work. You just move on to the next job without celebrating your previous success. This failure leads to focusing on what is still left undone instead of enjoying what has already been accomplished. Set up a reward system for yourself that serves as both a motivator to get certain difficult tasks done and an acknowledgment that you are making effective use of your time. Be it a bubble bath, two chapters in your new book, or a phone call to a friend, acknowledge your accomplishment by rewarding yourself.
It’s important not to beat yourself up. Time management and prioritizing is hard and it is not something you are expected to master overnight. You’ll find that you get much better at prioritizing and managing your time with experience.
But if you want to speed the process up and make your life a whole lot easier right now, try seeking help from a business coach who has been on the path you are following and can guide you step by step along the way.