Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. It has been exactly one month since my last blog post, and heres the dirty little confession – I really enjoyed taking a break.
But as we move into a new year, as we move into potentially the biggest year of any of our lives, its time to take stock. What is it that you want to achieve this year? What is it that you did last year that you want to do better or with more gusto?
This year, my goal is to manage my time better. I’m sure that anyone who knows me personally, and who is reading this is sitting there staring at me in ridicule. At the current time, I run a freelance business across graphic design, social media and marketing strategy, I blog (as I’m sure you can tell), I’m a first home owner, have an active social life and a really strong relationship with my family. I also tend to binge watch bad 1990’s sitcoms. I get asked all the time how I manage to get it all done, do I not sleep or do I simply have no life. And I always say that the key is passion for what I do and good time management.
For me, the point of good time management isn’t to do MORE, but to be more EFFECTIVE with the time you have. I want to manage my time better so that I can spend more time doing nothing. And I’m sure that anyone who is running their own business, or is really driven to achieve in their own field of expertise can understand this need, to not be going from one work moment to another working moment. So here are my top tips for effective time management.
- Start at the very beginning…
The very first thing that I would recommend to you is to do a good old fashioned time study. Write down everything that you do in a typical day, heck take a whole week and write down everything you do. Round it up to the closest half hour, and start with that. You might find that you are wasting time with too many smoke breaks during your day, or that you have an hour or two that is completely unaccounted for in the evening – what could you be doing to better utilise that time?
- WHY are you getting out of bed?
My biggest suggestion for anyone getting their home business off the ground, or looking for a way to relax of an evening is to utilise your mornings. You wake up first thing in the morning because you have to go to work, not so you can play Candy Crush or constantly refresh your Instagram feed on the train. I understand the need to have time as a break (which we will get onto later), but even if its as simple as planning out your day (which if you drive, you can do into a tape recorder or similar), do it in your commute. Thanks to mobile technology, I personally manage a lot of social media accounts in my morning commute, I write down blog ideas, I read articles on twitter, I’ve even been known to fill in Excel spreadsheets with data. Not only does this provide you with an opportunity to get a lot of niggly little things done, but it puts you in the right frame of mind from the moment you walk in your office doors – and that means you can hit it hard from that moment on.
- When you’re off, you’re off.
I think for anyone running a home business, no matter if its full or part time, this is one of the hardest lessons to learn. And that takes me back to the opening statement of this blog – when you’re taking a break, whether its over Christmas or at the end of your day, take a damn break. Don’t check your email, don’t refresh your Instagram (if you work in social media), don’t answer the phone. ACTIVELY relishing in your time off is one of the most important things, because if you don’t do it, you will feel like you are ALWAYS working – and that leads you towards a snapping moment, where it all falls apart. I personally find it particularly helpful when I’m on my train home from my full time job to watch sitcoms on my ipad. It lets me switch my brain off for a while, and starts the wind down process before I walk in my door. Choose your relaxation time, so that you can lead a more balanced life.
- Be in the moment
If you work out of hours, the flip side of switching off when you’re off is being on when you should be on. If you are working, WORK. Again, this is a hard lesson that I had to learn myself. Doing work on the couch while watching TV and talking to your partner is not an effective way to build a business. You need to be in the moment, and not only will it work out better for you, in that the quality of your work will be better and done more quickly, but it allows for you to have that time off with your partner, without distractions. If it needs to be timetabled that you work Monday and Thursday evenings, and date-night is Wednesday (whether that’s with your friends or that special someone), actively choose how you want to use your time.
- Learn to say no.
Finally, the hardest lesson for anyone in a business, anyone in life really – you have got to learn to say no. It might be saying no to that volunteer position because you feel guilty, it might be saying no to your mothers cousins son who wants a freebie “because we are family”. You’ve got to be able to say, this is how I structure my life, either it fits in or it doesn’t. Either its worth your time, or its simply not. Once you get rid of some superfluous crap, you will find it has a flow on effect down the line.
So I hope that helps you in some way with getting your working life started on the right foot in 2015. If you want to keep an eye on all the big and small things I achieve this year, you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. If you try one of these suggestions out and love it, I want you to let me know! If you try it out and it really doesn’t work for you, lets chat about it and see what we can do!