When I meet a new client I can almost guarantee that one of the things they are going to say to me is that they “struggle with time management”. Life just seems to be getting busier and busier and often there just seems to be more and more work to be done in a day.
This week I thought I would share with you four different coping tactics that I recommend to my clients that you can implement straight away in your business.
- Plan In Advance. There is NO substitute for planning. If you are a seat-of-the-pants reactive type person – you are not going to want to do this. All I can tell you is that if you sit down and work logically through a project & create a list of all the tasks you need to get done, it just makes life soooooo much easier. All you need to do is consult the list and take the next task. Another example is if you produce a regular newsletter – sit down and plan the topic(s) for your next 3 months worth of newsletters – your special offers etc. All you have to do then is concentrate on implementation. The decisions have already been made far in advance.
- Batch your Tasks. To use our newletter example again – if you had to write regular articles for your newsletter (just like I have to) find a time to sit down and hammer 3 or 4 out one after another. This way your brain is tuned in to what you are trying to achieve and things just seem to flow easier. It also takes far less time. You can get all your reference notes out at the same time, concentrate on writing, get that cup of coffee & just let your thoughts flow. The same applies to other tasks, like doing your bank statements, invoicing, filing etc. Do similar tasks at the same time without interruptions and you will halve the time you spend doing them.
- Turn off Automatic Email Downloads. This one brings a few panic attacks from clients when I initially suggest it! The reality is that email is “invisible work” – if you had 150 letters dumped on your desk you would be rushing off to your boss to complain that you couldn’t possibly deal with all THAT! Somehow 150 emails just don’t seem to have the same result – we are used to it. Research has shown however that “email notifications” break our concentration even if we don’t actually go and check what it is. In fact you probably take 60 seconds or so to refocus and continue with what you were doing. This means you could be “unfocused” and “unproductive” for as much as 2 ½ hours a DAY! The easy thing to do is simply to decide when you want to look at your email & download “chunks” of email all at one time & then spend some time reading & replying to them all there and then. (Another chunking example).
- Use Lists. A to-do list is a great way to focus your mind. You can scan it and decide which tasks have priority & get those done first. You don’t have to keep reminding yourself to do something – just write it down and know it won’t get forgotten. To-do lists clear mental clutter and allow us to be much more focused. Your list shouldn’t just have the tasks that you are hoping to get done today – it should have everything you need to do – even long term projects on it. The general rule of thumb is that if it is on the list – it will get done. Once you get used to working this way, you will NEVER go back.
If you struggle with time management, see if you can implement one of the time saving strategies I have outlined above – they really do work!