I would not typically consider myself a time waster (*cough* don’t ask my husband what he thinks). But when it’s a task I do not feel super motivated to complete, I tend to get sidetracked with all the “oooh shiny” things in my world. When it’s not a task I am not super excited to tackle, I tend to give myself “an out” to avoid feeling stuck. When it’s a task that I do not feel emotionally invested it, well, my energy wanes and my brain shifts to “what else could I be doing”.
Which then leads to time wasting. 😊
We have all heard the phrase; “Work smarter, not harder”, right?
But what does that mean and how do we implement that concept into our daily life?
Here are tried and true steps for increasing your time management, so you can avoid being a time waster like me:
- Know yourself. When do you do your best work? What days or times do you find yourself being most productive? When do you really need a cup of tea and to sit and watch the birds from your deck? Do you even know the difference?? If you have a task that really needs your full attention, don’t start it when the kid’s get home from school and dinner needs to be made. Make sure it’s scheduled for a time you are at your best.
- Find a system. Start using a dedicated online calendar program, such as Google Calendar to easily create, view, share your calendar. Something like Trello to organize projects or have a place beyond “Notes” to leave important ideas. Or if you prefer something that feels more concrete and tangible, invest in a daily planner. I LOVE my Freedom Mastery daily planner, it is part planner, part manifestation tool and part cheerleader for me. Color code, use different pens/pencils to organize and clearly define tasks/events. Find a system that you would love to use daily…and use it daily. (total transparency: if you do order from the above link—I do receive a small finder’s fee).
- Write it ALL down. At least at the beginning, create space in your calendar for a bit of everything that keeps you moving forward and staying sane. Everything. Sleep, meals, hygiene routines, exercise, hobbies, friend/family time, down time, and other forms of self-care. And ensure that this important stuff—yep, meeting your personal needs is important—gets scheduled and accomplished. And it can clue you in to where you have more time to get projects done and where time might be leaking out the great void of time wasting.
- Mentally prep for the week. Include time on your calendar for brainstorming, organizing thoughts/ to-do lists, scheduling. Monday morning after the kids head off to school, I spend about 30 minutes with my coffee to look at the week and what needs to be adjusted in my work or personal calendar, so I don’t burn myself out before Thursday rolls around. I would discourage trying this on Sunday night if you are mentally prepping for work because it robs you of prized and needed downtime. Pick a day/time for coming together as a family to look over calendars if like gets hectic with running in multiple directions.
- Gain Perspective. Practice looking at the small picture and big picture. What are your goals? What are the tasks that will need to be complete to achieve the goal? What kind of time needs to be set aside for tasks. Look over your day, week, month. Do specific tasks have to be completed within specific timeframes? Estimate how long tasks might take and consider where you can slide them into your schedule. Break the larger tasks into blocks/ chunks so you are not reliving your old college days of pulling “all-nights”.
- Get honest. What are your priorities? What are your values related to goal setting and achieving? Where is your time/energy/schedule being depleted or disrupted or overbooked? Do you need to set alarms or time limits on particular activities? Do you need to pad some activities with extra time before or after the activity to give you space? Are you seeing that procrastination creates stress and disrupts your schedule? What needs to shift?
- Bring in the reinforcements. If you notice a goal feels too overwhelming or is creating too much stress; ask for help from friends/family or colleague. Is there something you do that clogs up your calendar but does not have much of a ROI for you? Maybe you can carpool for sports’ practices or create other shortcuts for help and ease of task with your partner, family, or friends/neighbors or delegate to a colleague. Would it be worth your time/ money to hire someone to do some tasks for you? It is time to splurge on a house cleaner, subscribe to a meal kit, or hire a virtual assistant?
- Celebrate. Reward yourself when you finish a task, especially if it is a big undertaking or a dreaded task. Give yourself a compliment, send a text to a buddy who has been cheering you on, or even do a little celebration dance. Celebrate you and your hard work. Especially if you had to overcome a little time wasting and procrastination. Whether it’s a small piece of dark chocolate or that new laptop you have been drooling over, treat yourself—you deserve it!
Some of us may have been born with amazing organization skills and the ability to stay on task and others of us need to keep working on creating a system that works.
If something is not working for you or you are finding it is hard to stay on task, prioritize or achieve a particular goal, reach out at email@example.com (when you remember—ha!), and we will create a plan together!
Wishing you lots of good feels from your awesome time management prowess,