If there’s one thing I know something about its about how to fit everything I want to do into a single day. It hasn’t always been the case though, I’ll be honest I was one of these people who thought I had EXCELLENT time management before I really learnt the art of time management and ultimately life balance. It never came naturally, even though I could fit a lot into my already busy days – I was running on empty and was often tired and my health was terrible – I LIVED on takeaways – and not good ones either. So clearly I was productive but not balanced.
For the past 10 years I’ve been a work from home Mum – fitting in business and being a solo Mum to my 3 busy little boys – 2 of who are 2 year old twins. When I’m on the road with them speaking at events one of the most asked questions people ask is ‘How on earth do you fit it all in?’ after all it doesn’t matter who you are, what your family circumstances are, we are ALL busy, right? It’s just working out how to maximise that 24 hour period so it works for you rather than against you. So I thought I’d share some of my tips, from one busy person to another busy person YOU, I hope they are as helpful to you as they have been to me.
- GET A DIARY OR SCHEDULE. This is not only a FANTASTIC resource for managing your time, but it also helps you to remember everything important and allows you to see what you have in your day already so you don’t over commit and become overwhelmed. When it’s there in front of your face exactly what you have one – then it’s easier not to double book or over commit yourself.
- PLAN. This is incredibly essential in my world. Spend some time planning what you want to do so you know what steps you need to take and when. This helps you tenfold to achieve any goal you desire.
- PRIORITISE. Work out what is important to you and ensure you allocate plenty of time for those things first. For example my very first priority is my kids. So everything to do with them I schedule in first – then comes me, then business, then family and friends and the maintenance jobs like housework and yard work etc. This may be different for you – for example if you are in a relationship date nights and special time with your partner are important and need to be scheduled in each week also.
- BE RUTHLESS. I was always what I call a YES person, whenever someone asked me to do something I’d say ‘YES! ‘, ‘Sure, I’ll do it!’, ‘No Worries!’. Howeeevvveerrrrrr this always left me highly over committed and usually stressed! The thing about this is that it completely compromises YOU and your family. My ical in my iPhone is a great tool for helping me to be ruthless with my time. So when someone asks if I can do something I say sure let me check my schedule and I’ll see when I can do it. If it’s next week or in 5 months time I am comfortable about responding and KNOW that if my 24 hours is booked up then it’s booked up – if you work with it, it’ll make life easier.
- OUTSOURCING WHAT YOU PROCRASTINATE ON. We’ve all got our strengths (and just quietly we’ve all got our weaknesses). My weakness is in Myob data entry . I know it rings some peoples bells to cheerfully see all those receipts transformed into electronic form and then filed away nice and neatly – and it does for me too as long as I don’t need to actually do it myself! It’s not that I can’t do it – I simply don’t enjoy doing it. Therefore I know without a shadow of doubt that if it was up to me to do it, then they would pile up and up until the last possible date where I would then find myself working like a mad woman to get it all updated in time. So to alleviate any stress or costly mistakes, I have a bookkeeper who is simply sensational and LOVES, LOVES, LOVES doing it and does it incredibly well. I’m happy, she’s happy and the tax man is happy so everyone wins and we’re all doing the things we love rather than stressing over the ones we don’t.
- MINIMISE UNECESSARY TASKS. Before I did get organised, one thing you would find me doing CONSTANTLY was going to the supermarket every other day to get ingredients for dinner. Often it would be a costly trip. 1 because I’d go in without really thinking what we were having for dinner so would end up with a variety of ingredients I didn’t even get to use, and 2 because I was wasting time and fuel in doing it! So if you can plan your weekly shopping menu and add all the required ingredients to your list then you won’t have to visit the supermarket more than once a week, you save time travelling back and forth AND you save money too! Happy Days!
- USE COMPUTER TIME EFFECTIVELY. We’ve probably all been guilty of a little out of school internet surfing right? Facebook??? Oh YEAH! But it’s one of THE biggest time zappers around. Reading about other peoples lives or going from one site to is such an unproductive us of time unless it’s for an allocated ‘research’ time, otherwise, before you know it 2 hours has slipped away from you. The other time zapper is emails. If you find yourself checking emails every 10 minutes or whiling away the hours in cyberspace, then a great tip I utilise is to allocate time for computer research and also emails. I book a block of time for research and also check emails 3 times throughout the day; first thing in the morning, around lunchtime and when the kids go to bed at night. Never on my days off. This was really challenging to get used to, but it’s sensational when you get the hang of it. You can fit in far more to your day.
- ALLOCATE A BUFFER ZONE. We all have unexpected things that come up. Friends pop in, someone needed you to help them urgently, a job takes a little longer, transport is delayed, you slept in, or sometimes you just didn’t feel like doing something that you had to do (which often masquerades the fact that you need to take a little time out!)… Each day wherever possible, make a space in your diary for a buffer zone so you still have another block of time to have another crack at finishing something. AND if you have finished everything, then you can relax and spend that time on YOU! YAY!
Remember what we focus on is forever changing so you need to be flexible and be prepared to allow for changes to your lifestyle (like babies, retirement). Under-commit rather than over-commit every chance you get so you can stop and smell the roses. We’ve all got 24 hours in the day, so make the most of yours every moment you get!