You may have your little ones at home with you, or you may have school-aged children, either way, you will need to be disciplined about how you schedule your time to get the most out of the time you have. Without a structure, I found that my clients would complain that they found they NEVER had enough minutes in the day to finish everything that they needed to get done. I get it! There have been days that I have taken Gray to school, come home to my home office, make breakfast, I blink and it is school pick-up time. Those are the days that I wing it. What makes the wing-it days different? Well, I am ALL over the place on those days. Wherever my brain floats or whatever my fingers type in the URL box is what I work on. Ya, I get a couple little things done here and there, but overall I would say the day is wasted. I have clients that live every day like this!
Where the hell does the time go?!
When I allow myself to flit all over my first 3 hours will look like this: I will open my email and delete all the shit I keep forgetting to unsubscribe to, respond to the first few client emails, some email from my mom will remind me to wish a cousin happy birthday on Facebook, once in Facebook I lose 45 minutes to something or other, then a client will text asking to resend their invoice, I will open the invoicing program and see who else had not paid and then go over to my email to remind them all after cross referencing with PayPal and my online banking account, which will remind me to open my personal account to pay the hydro bill, then my wife will call asking about dinner and then I will start looking up recipes (not sure why, I always make the same things) and suddenly it is lunch. Where the heck did my morning go? I only have 6 hours a day to run my businesses so I CANNOT afford to have this happen. Can you relate to this?!
So, we know we have all been guilty of this, now what can we do about it? There are five steps that should help you maximize your time:
- Unitasking – when you start a task, see that one through until you are finished. If it is doing your product ordering, just do that until it is finished. Do not jump on Facebook, or get lost in your email, or send your invoices. This saves you time and brain power because you get laser focused and do not have to flip around and catch up with the new task every time. When possible, you can set a timer too so that tasks do not suck up too much time. This will ensure that you have time to work in and on your business.
- Bundling – Do all the tasks that are the same together. What does this mean? Well, if you have to put on your finance hat, do all the money tasks on the same day, or in the same work slot. I know that when I start working on the books or invoices or banking and change to something else, it takes me 5-15 minutes just to get me back on track from where I was before I left the task. Doing that repeatedly in a day or week or month would add up to lots of wasted time that we just do not have the luxury of giving up! When you are jumping on the phone to call people back or do sales calls, do them all together. You will fly through them and cross that off your to-do list in one fell swoop. Also, when I have to go out of the house, see clients or do sales meetings I like to do my self up more than when I am working in my home office. If I do not have to do that everyday, I won’t! I save that ‘getting presentable’ time by making sure I book my non-sweatpant meetings all in one chunk.
- Do your creative tasks in the morning – If I start my day with emails or ‘busy tasks’ I miss the window when my creative juices are a flowin’. This time slot, if possible, should be for your marketing material creation, idea mapping, blog or article or script writing, video making or similar tasks.
- Plan your weeks in advance – Pick a day to be your planning day and get clear with what you need to accomplish for the next week/month. Then break those larger goals down into bite-sized tasks and divvy them up over the week. The clearer you are with your task lists, when you get those precious hands-free windows you are not thinking about what you need to do in those slots, you are jumping right into action.
- Planning your day the night before – This may seem like it is the same as step 4, it is not. This is a more micro tip. Before going to bed, make a list of what you have on the docket for the next day. This would include getting client packages together, putting materials in the car, packing supplies in your kits or bags, getting items for shipping ready, etc. You can also get outfits ready, if applicable, or do those sorts of prep tasks. Doing this has a dual purpose. First, you are über organized for the next day and second, you usually sleep better when you are not trying to remember your mental lists of what you need to do over the next 24-72 hours. Anyone else run through stuff over and over in their head when it is not written down somewhere?
How you keep track of your lists and schedule and goals is up to you. I use Google Calendar and lots of post-its. I put sticky notes everywhere to remind me what to do and to make my daily lists the night before. They are on my front door so I don’t leave items I will need, they are on my desk with bigger projects to plug away on, and they are always on my laptop to prevent me from multitasking. Rather than flipping over to a new task when something pops into my head, I write it on a post-it and get to it when I am done my daily items. This saves me so much time! I have clients that use a white board or a spreadsheet or a wall calendar or poster board. Whatever tools you will find the most helpful for you, use those.
I would love to hear how these tips worked for you and your life and business. Please leave a comment with what worked and share any tips that you find streamlines your week!