Time is a finite resource, and although we can’t create more minutes or hours for ourselves, we can better manage those minutes and hours.
And “time management” isn’t just about literal time….it’s a lot about managing your attention and energy levels too.
Your current time management strategies may not be working for you if:
– You’re not getting what you want done
– You can’t stick to it because it’s just too cumbersome or complicated
– You feel stressed or rushed or overwhelmed
If this sounds like you, check out my guest blog post on Copper Kettle Co. about the 5 best ways to manage your time (or keep scrolling for a summary of the best parts!)
— Focus on just 3 things
I love that you have tons of amazing ideas, and that you want to make them a reality! But the actual reality is that we’re all human and can only do so much at once.
Instead of feeling discouraged, stressed and guilty for not getting all the things done, set yourself up for success by choosing just three.
And let’s keep it real. I’m not talking about planning to finish 3 huge projects each day. I’m talking about finishing 3 smaller, bite-sized, broken down tasks that you can realistically finish by the end of your day.
As an example, this can include things like outlining or drafting a blog post, writing a (small) portion of an e-book, scheduling social media for the upcoming month, conducting two client meetings, two hours of marketing activities, doing a FB live, a networking event, website updates or research event venues.
— Schedule the important stuff first
There’s a difference between “important” and “urgent”. A lot of us make the mistake of thinking that when something feels “urgent”, it’s the first thing we should work on. It’s just the easiest thing to do.
But then all the super important stuff gets pushed aside. Again and again. Those would be the things we want to be working on, that are meaningful to us, that bring us closer to achieving our goals, and that will have an impact on our lives and businesses. This is where we should be spending our time.
Ask yourself what’s most important for you to be working on. What’s going to bring you closer to achieving your overall goals, purpose and vision? What excites you most?
Schedule and block off time for these meaningful and important things in your calendar. Like, now.
— Track that precious time
Have you ever wondered where the time went at the end of the day? Seriously, how is it 4pm already?!
A great way to get over the day-be-gone blues is to track your time. You might think you know how you’re spending your time, and that you’re making the most of it, but time tracking can be an eye opening experience.
This is also a great tool to help you figure out when you’ve got the most energy during the day, when you’ve got the least motivation, those pockets of time where your attention is focused or pulled in different directions.
And I know, I know, it sounds like just another thing to do, but will ultimately save you tons of time. I pinky swear.
You can use an app such as RescueTime to track yourself automatically – it just runs in the background of your phone, tablet and computer, spitting out a really cool report for you at the end.
Or you can do it manually using Excel or Google Drive. Keep note of the time you start and finish each thing you’re doing and working on (this includes breaks and mindlessly scrolling social media!) or set a timer for each hour and write down everything you worked on during that past hour.
— Set deadlines for yourself
When we’re working on a project that’s open ended and / or we don’t have anyone to answer to, as us entrepreneurs tend not to, we’ll often procrastinate, get distracted and fill our time with other stuff. Who’s experienced the Facebook or IG black hole more than once? *raises hand*
Here’s how to get started with your own deadlines:
1) List every single thing that needs to get done for whatever project you’re working on. Be extremely detailed.
2) Include the estimated time each of these things will take you to complete (your time tracking will help with this!)
3) Think about when you’d like to get this project completed by, and when you can realistically get it done (based on your list of tasks and time estimates). Pick a date somewhere between these two that feels right for you.
4) Set mini deadlines for various stages of the project. These will be your milestones that let you measure your progress, keep you on track and celebrate your accomplishments along the way (hey there motivation!)
5) Now write these deadlines down in your planner, Google calendar, wherever you’re going to see them daily. Writing our intentions down makes them real and gives you accountability.
6) Talk to people about it and tell them what deadlines you’re working towards. This also keeps you accountable, and then you can all celebrate together when you finish!
And if you happen to miss a deadline, remember: it’s not the end of the world. Stuff comes up, things change, life is a ride!
— Say no more often
Believe me – I know the feelings of anxiety when I want to say “no” to someone. I don’t want to upset them. I don’t want them to be mad at me. I want to be a “good” person.
But in reality, people don’t take it quite that hard when we say “no” – and they usually completely understand. Regardless, there’s nothing more important than putting yourself and your time first.
By saying no more often, you’re going to free up so much more of your time – for that important and meaningful stuff we talked about above.
Ask yourself straight up what can be eliminated from your to-do list.
What things need to be done, but you really don’t like doing them? Maybe they can be delegated or outsourced.
Is there anything that’s really hard or frustrating? Those things are going to take up a lot of your time, so hire an expert to do it instead.
What can be paused, and come back to later? Is this thing important to you (and bringing you closer to your goals)?
Why are you doing it? To please someone else? Be honest here.
So how can we be tactful about this saying no business? I like the idea of a “compliment sandwich” – start by genuinely praising the person’s idea or effort, then tell them you’re not in a position to help right now, and end by expressing gratitude to them for thinking of you. Boom.
And I left this little tidbit for the very end, because it’s pretty heavy:
Albert Einstein actually believed that time is a construct of the mind. Whoaaaa whaaa? This would mean that an abundant mindset creates an abundant experience of time. The time available to us can be extracted and contracted by our own intention and energy. So if you believe that you have plenty of time, there will be plenty of time. You’ll end up accomplishing more in less time, or finishing something huge really quickly.
Give it a try sometime and see how your experience of time shifts.