How to manage your time better
If you thought being in lockdown meant you’d finally have the time to clear that ever-growing to-do list, by now you may be wondering what on earth happened! And you’re not alone – it seems that no matter how much time we seem to have on our hands, if we don’t manage our time efficiently, we’ll always feel like we’re chasing our tails.
That’s the message from Natalie Meyer, a time management consultant who has been advising time-starved clients how to best juggle their daily lives so that they achieve the things they need to achieve, and more importantly, so they start to actually feel a sense of achievement.
“I advise people on using better time management techniques,” says Natalie.
“That means being intentional with your time. We are often too busy to have the chance to step back and realise what is important and to ask how can I start building those things into my day.”
That is where Natalie’s expertise is invaluable. She helps people to plan, prioritise and be purposeful about the time they have in their week so that they achieve a more satisfactory outcome, whether that be managing work, family, hobbies or just carving out ‘me-time’.
It seems simple, but when you consider that people often spend more time planning a one-week holiday than planning the other 51 weeks of their lives, then you could argue that we could all do with a bit of help to manage our time productively.
Here’s what Natalie recommends:
Ditch the to-do list:
This is the one sure way to set yourself up for failure. When people write these lists, they generally haven’t looked at how long these tasks take and whether they actually add up to 24 hours! A wish-list is not purposeful, it is random and what gets pushed back is random. This means that to clear your to-do list, you often spend time doing the things that take less time, the quick and easy things, but these are rarely the things that take you to impactful outcomes. This has the effect that you never feel like you’ve achieved anything significant.
Be intentional with your time:
Start with a brain dump and take the time to ask yourself what do I have to do in a week and does it actually fit? How many available hours have you actually got in your week? It’s then about being intentional for these hours – ask yourself what would my ideal week look like? If you never ask this, then you’ll never get to that point!
Be realistic about time spent:
Humans are very good at underestimating the amount of time a task actually takes. You might write a blog, but have you thought about the time it then takes to research, edit, upload, find pictures… Once you have a realistic notion of the amount of time a task will take you can start to plan it into your week. You know something will take so many hours and it’s going to generate this many eyeballs, make this many connections, this much revenue – only once you have this information can you learn where you get the biggest bang for your buck in your hours.
Learn about priorities:
Often when we choose what to do with our time we look for the upside of the things we are doing and we don’t spot the missed opportunity of what we are not doing.
It is easy to get caught up in the seemingly urgent – the thing that shouts ‘pick me’, ‘If you don’t do me today then this will be the consequence!’ But that consequence might be small compared to the upside of not doing something else. Are you missing out on the upside of that other task?
Structure your time:
Once you have your ideal week mapped out, subdivide each of the categories into smaller tasks. So, if you ideally want to work 30 hours a week, you might decide that 15 are client-facing, 5 are to work on admin, 5 for finance and 5 for marketing. Then decide when you are going to do each of these roles – perhaps you want to do marketing in two 2.5 hour blocks on a Monday and Wednesday. If an unexpected appointment pops up during those hours you can see if it is worth moving your marketing slot to a different day in place of, say, finance this week – now you can be intentional with your time.
Work with your own rhythm:
We all have different times of the day when we work best and when we are at our most analytical or creative. Look into your own rhythms – when are your high energy times and when does your brain go to mush?
Generally, people are more alert, critical and analytical in the morning and this climbs steadily until it reaches a peak and goes into a trough after lunch. You tend to get a second wave of alertness late afternoon which can be a more creative peak before it tails off before bedtime. Start to notice your own rhythm and map tasks to your own energy levels.
To learn more about effective time management, take a look at Natalie’s top 10 tips on ‘how to save an hour a day’, by visiting her website at allingoodtime.uk.com
On the website, Natalie has prepared an exclusive download for Simply Marketing Podcast listeners, ‘5 steps to a perfectly planned day’
You can also join Natalie’s Facebook Group – the Purposeful Productivity Posse – each week for live mini training sessions
If you would like to learn more about managing your time better listen to the full Podcast go to: Episode 70