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Freelancing, Volunteering, Time Management

These past 2 months have been a whirlwind of activity. Stretching time between freelancing, volunteering, and trying to get things around the house organized has not been an easy task. Even now I find myself behind on tasks that should be done. I work a full-time job Monday – Friday and have  slightly odd hours at that (6:30/7a-3p), so trying to shove everything else into the few hours in the evening and on weekends can be a bit crazy. I’ve stepped away from my normal routine of Time Management recently, but I am pulling myself together and getting back on track. I can tell you, not managing your time can kill your to do list quickly. So, I am going to share some of the knowledge I’ve learned over the years when dealing with a lot of things to do, and putting them together in a way to maximize your time.

No, I am not going to sell you some system that you MUST BUY in order to get a handle on your time. I’ve been there and though it may work for some, I prefer setting up my own system (FREE!) and tailoring it to my specific needs.

If anyone tells you time management is for the birds, CLEARLY they don’t have a million and one things to do in only 24 hours.

An article that I read recently online talked about “clock time” and “real time”. Which are you running on? Most of us are running around and basing our days on clock time. 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, etc etc. It makes us feel there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish what needs to get accomplished. Real time is based purely on perception. The example the article gave was if you were sitting at the DMV, 2 hours would feel like forever, yet if you had kids it seems as if time was moving at warp speed and suddenly they’re not little kids anymore (I’m paraphrasing there, but you get the idea). Below are just a few of the things I do that I found on their list. You can see the full article and their full list here: 10 Time Management Tip That Work.

Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day. Don’t start your day until you complete your time plan. The most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time.

Take five minutes before every call and task to decide what result you want to attain. This will help you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down. Take five minutes after each call and activity to determine whether your desired result was achieved. If not, what was missing? How do you put what’s missing in your next call or activity?

Put up a “Do not disturb” sign when you absolutely have to get work done.

Practice not answering the phone just because it’s ringing and e-mails just because they show up. Disconnect instant messaging. Don’t instantly give people your attention unless it’s absolutely crucial in your business to offer an immediate human response. Instead, schedule a time to answer email and return phone calls. If it’s not something you are going to take care of right then and there, it can wait to be opened and read.

Block out other distractions like Facebook and other forms of social media unless you use these tools to generate business.

One thing I’ve learned is to take time on a Sunday morning or even a Sunday evening and write out a to do list for that week. I don’t start with any kind of order, I just write things down as they pop into my head. Once I’ve gotten everything on paper, I then take time to organize tasks by priority. By then I have a list that shows me the major things I need to get done that week and I can start structuring my day around them.

I put in 30 minutes in each morning going over my list for the day, remove things that are no longer important or needed, add things that have come up since writing the original list, moving things around. I put it all in a Google calendar and then I take a step back and look at what I have.

Do I really need to do this task today? Will it work better if I pair it with something else? Do I have what I need to get that task done? I need to make sure that I have everything I need ready to go before any progress can be made on a task. Once that’s all done for the day I then I put the current tasks up on my whiteboard next to the desk. This helps me keep track of the day’s objectives. I can usually squeeze small tasks in during lunch or if it’s no more than 5 minutes I will take a break from what I’m working on to get it out of the way. When it comes time to go home for the evening, the bigger pieces come up and it’s time to get down to business.

As I accomplish things, I mark them off. If I don’t get get everything done I needed to (waiting on client input, a task took longer than expected, something else came up that was a higher priority), then I move it to the top of the list for the next day.

Once you get into the habit of making a Daily To-Do List, things will become more fluid and you’ll start to see when you work the best and when you’re the least productive. Work within your habits and utilize those times to your advantage. Before long, you’ll be able to get more things done and not feel so stressed out with the amount of things to do. Stay on top of what you have to do and keep things organized so they’re easy to find.

“Success is a matter of changing your routine and disciplining yourself to maintain a few well-proven habits.” Chalene Johnson. PUSH: 30 Days to Turbocharged Habits, a Bangin’ Body, and the Life You Deserve!

Do you have any tips or tricks you use when working on Time Management? Share them below!