One of my biggest battles is time. I feel that I have too much to do in too few hours. This is a sentiment I see reflected around the internet every day – we are all saying that we are short on time and that 24 hours a day is just not long enough to get everything done we need to, let alone want to.
However, there are some ways I have discovered to take back control over your day and to get more productive in fewer hours. Is it a foolproof, perfect system? No. Does it always leave me feeling serenely calm and non-frazzled? No. But what it does do is allow me to achieve a lot more than I would be able to do otherwise.
Take a look at the five areas I implement and see if you believe any can help you get more done.
1. Setting 3 Important Goals Per Day
Every evening I write in my planner 3 key goals to be achieved the following day. Many times I will achieve way more than that, but at least if I achieve three I feel satisfied with the day and as though I have made progress.
The only thing to bear in mind with this is not to set yourself 3 HUGE goals, so maybe opt for one bigger one and two minor ones that you can at least cross off your to-do list.
If you do have a lot of big goals also make sure you break these down into much smaller tasks so they are achievable. For example, if your goal is to set up a mailing list you are probably not going to get the whole task achieved in one day. Rather break it down into smaller sections 1) choose an email provider 2) create your list 3) create an opt-in form etc. This can take you right through to sending out your first newsletter – that way you can tackle one part of this per day and then you will be amazed at how quickly it can be achieved, rather than it sitting in your head as one massive TO-DO that you feel you will never get done ☺
2. Working in Short Bursts
Procrastination can kick your butt and even if you sit down to work it’s easy to wander off track and start checking Facebook; looking out the window daydreaming; or deciding that now is the time to clean out the kitchen cupboards (you know those kitchen cupboards that if you didn’t have a goal to achieve you wouldn’t even know where they were, let alone open the door to consider cleaning them). While housework is of course important (ahem) it’s not as important as moving your business forward.
One method that can help to stop procrastination in its tracks is the Pomodoro Technique. This encourages you to set a timer for 25 minutes and to focus on the task at hand for those concentrated minutes and then take a break. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you know it’s only for a relatively short time. There’s even a free timer you can add to your computer’s desktop to keep you on track.
Are you the type of person who prides yourself on multitasking and skips between different things gaily? All guilty parties raise your hand? (That’s me then!) In fact multi-tasking it turns out (through proper research and everything – scary stuff) is not that great when it comes to getting tasks achieved. Now I think that if being a multi-tasking ninja is part of your personality then it’s hard to stamp it out completely (and really why would you want to, sometimes it comes in handy). However there are ways to lessen it’s negative impact.
One of the best ways is batching tasks, especially all those repetitive tasks that you have to do in your business all the time. Is it better to focus on one thing at a time and get several days or weeks worth done in one sitting so that you then don’t have to return to that task for a while? Why yes, yes it is. Go on try it, I promise you will like it 😉
4. Scheduling Tools
Is social media a big time suck in your business? You know when you create a fabulous blog post and then you have to do that hard, hard work of sharing it. I have one word for you – scheduling. It’s a miracle and if you haven’t tried it yet you really should – my fave tool is Buffer but there are plenty out there for different tasks and you can even start out for free.
5. Give Yourself Time Off
Don’t fall into the trap (as I do) of working waaaaaaay too much. Your brain and body need time away from your desk to rest, recover and to come up with great new ideas. Have work-free days or afternoons; get out and walk or dance; play with your pets; smell the roses; talk to your partner (radical I know); live in the moment; know that life is good. Above all else acknowledge that you are on this business path because it allows you to live life on your terms, don’t become more a prisoner to it than you would a corporate job.
Alison nods wisely and walks away from the desk – maybe, just maybe – taking her own advice.