Manage your TIme
“Time is a choice.”
For busy entrepreneurs juggling the complexities of growing a business and keeping a healthy work-life balance, this might feel more like a wish than a reality. But Laura Vanderkam, author of I Know How She Does It, is all about using practical strategies to help today’s businesswoman reclaim her time.
In her presentation on time management and life balance during a breakout session of the 2016 PA Conference for Women in Philadelphia, Laura shared seven of the most effective ways to master your time and transform it from something you spend your life chasing to something that works for you to create space for productivity and happiness.
Here are Laura’s seven time management strategies:
- Mind your hours. This a valuable exercise, but most people resist it, so I’m going to challenge you to do it for just one week. For seven days, document and total the time you spend by category (driving, cooking, social media, phone calls, projects, admin, household chores etc.). This will show you, in sometimes surprising detail, how you are really spending your days; it will give you accurate data to evaluate that reality—and change it if you choose. Ask yourself: What do you like most about your schedule? What should be taken off?
- Look forward. Imagine it's December 31. Looking back, what goals would you like to have accomplished this year? Once identified, outline the tasks that will get you to those goals so you can focus your time on those things.
- First things first. Time really is a choice. Choose to fill your time with things that deserve your attention. So often, we feel we don't have time to [fill-in-the-blank with any life-affirming activity you typically push aside—exercise, sleep, seeing friends, etc.]. But if something urgent occurred (i.e., your washer overflowed or a loved one became ill), you'd find the time to attend to these priorities. The time is there. It’s a matter of setting priorities, then taking control instead of living life at the mercy of circumstances. Plan weekly, and be sure to allocate time to career, relationships and self.
Kathy Marcino of KMM DISC Consulting utilizes this strategy to help manage her business and maintain a balance between work and life. “On Sundays, I like to prep my Social Media for the week,” she says. “I block out about 1 ½ hours, usually in the morning, to read articles I’ve saved, finish blogs, find pictures, and schedule posts in Buffer. I still post real-time when I find something relevant to share, but at least I know I have something scheduled consistently.”
- Move the tiles around. Rather than looking at your available time as blocks of 24 hours each day, look at the full 168 hours of the week. You can create a mosaic of sorts with 168 tiles. This allows you flexibility in timing. Laura gave the example of having an 'exercise tile' at lunchtime one day, in the evening another day, and in the morning some other day of the week.
Kathy likes to create two-hour blocks of time about three times a week that she labels “Private.” “The goal,” she says, “is spinning class, but sometimes I’m spinning in my business. Those two hours are meant for me time–either to catch up on the previous day’s activities, or re-charge for the day ahead.”
- Build space into your life. Everything takes longer than you think. By adding a cushion around your appointments, you eliminate the stress of rushing, being late, or always feeling like you’re running behind. Laura also suggested being careful with the word 'yes'. Be sure you’re spending your time on your agenda, not someone else's priorities. Regularly step back to look at your calendar and eliminate anything you really don't want to do or doesn't have to happen.
Building space into your day can be as simple as tweaking the way you schedule appointments. “I try to schedule 15-20 minutes between client calls as they tend to run overtime,” offers Kathy. “It may be to catch a breath, or make a cup of tea!” Either way, she’s able to move on feeling refreshed and ready to give her next client her undivided attention.
- Take care of self. Sleeping and exercise will make time rather than take time. Your brain needs to take healthy breaks, and your body needs to reenergize so you can perform at your best.
- Use bits of time. Small moments have great impact. Use an extra 10 minutes to meditate, read a story to your kids or get advice from your mentor.
With the right strategies, time truly does become a choice. Your choice. How will you decide to use it today?
If you need help getting clear on where to spend your time and start making a real impact with your work, let's work together one-on-one to fast-track your market leadership goals. Learn more HERE.