Are you feeling overwhelmed, juggling too many tasks & projects, and feeling stressed out? I'm guessing YES!
You're not just an entrepreneur trying to start or manage a successful online business... you also have a full life outside of that vying for your time and attention.
We're always in search of that magic solution, the ideal schedule or routine, and testing out different Time Management tips & techniques to replace those that just aren't working anymore. Or at least I am.
That's where I am now actually.
Do you find that you work all day, day after day, and "stay busy" - but never actually achieve your goals, or get to your most important tasks?
Lately it has become obvious that my current Time Management techniques simply are NOT working for me. At the moment, I should say - because they've worked just fine for me in the past. But I have new projects, changes in my routine, and very ambitious goals to reach before the end of the year... so it's time for change!
The Time Management changes I decided to make were very simple, but are already making a huge difference in my work/life balance and in my productivity...
Yesterday I read a thought provoking article FULL of Time Management tips by Karyn Greenstreet titled 44 Tips for Dealing with Overwhelm. The article itself seemed overwhelming at first glance (lol), so I printed it off to read in my "offline reading time" - which is a new Time Block I've recently added to my daily routine.
In the article, Karyn made a brilliant point:
You're in control of your calendar. You're in control of which projects are top priority. You're in control of your thoughts about your business. You’re even in control of whether you answer a ringing phone or not...
Stating the obvious? Sure! But how many of us control our day, instead of letting our day (and all of it's distractions) control us?
Karyn also shared a link to this video where Stephen Covey shows a visual example of doing the most important things in your life and business FIRST:
A timely addition. Covey made such a powerful impact on this world!
Time Management tips will only work for you if they are in line with YOUR current objectives. Tip: Focus On Your TOP Priorities!
You can study Time Management tips & techniques all day long, but in the end they are not going to work for you if they're not in line with your goals - specifically.
If you know your objective upfront you can choose & apply those tips strategically, as they relate to YOUR goals, which is the key. Before you can effectively manage your time, or achieve life balance, you have to know what you want to do - and why.
As I was analyzing my own routine against my goals this past week, I found myself overwhelmed trying to fit all the little tasks into all the little time blocks. Like piecing together a puzzle in the dark. I had to back out and look at the big picture.
I made a list of my Top Five Priorities, or top five things I most wanted to achieve in my life by year end. These are things I've wanted to do/change for awhile now, aside from and in addition to my current schedule & routine. Of course as we all know, wanting and thinking and wishing won't get you anywhere fast.
It takes consistent and specific action to achieve ANY goal.
I started by making a list of all my current obligations. This included both business and non-business tasks. Basically everything that makes up my usual routine. I analyzed that list for things that could be scheduled, removed or outsourced.
Next I took the "top five" list, the things I want to change/add, and determined what I would need to do (ie specific tasks) to turn those goals into reality.
Let's say for example that you want to blog more consistently, exercise daily, spend more time in your garden or finish a book you've been writing for ages. In order to fit anything new into your schedule, you have to make an appointment to get it done.
Otherwise you may find that the majority of your time is spent on tasks that aren't in line with your biggest goals, and you spend very little time (if any at all) working toward reaching those goals. And that's just plain frustrating.
Making The Most Of Your Time
Take some time today to consider your biggest wishes and wants in life. What would you most love to achieve, that you haven't been able to get started on - or complete? What nags you the most in the back of your mind about your life or business?
What would it take to achieve that goal?
Break it down into a consistent action (or actions), determine how often you need to do it and how long it will take, and schedule it in! Like they illustrated in the video above, you should focus on your top priorities (your biggest rocks) FIRST.
Everything else is just a distraction, or a means of procrastinating...
If you need a starting point, keep a Time Log for three straight days. Make note of everything you do in your time each day, and how long it takes. This includes sleeping, eating, watching TV, working, spending time with family - all of it. You'll probably find that you have 24 hours in your Time Log just like the rest of us.
Well before that three days is up you'll start to see where you could be making better use of your time, what you can stop doing, and how you might be able to fit in the things you'd like to start doing.
It's not just about time management, or doing the things "experts" (or well meaning friends & family) say you should be doing. It's about doing what is most important to you. Period. Because you cannot do it all. And you DO get to choose.
Know where you are.
Know where you want to be.
Know what it's going to take to get from here to there.
Then... go do it!