Most days, I go into battle.
My enemy is time and my problem is that I have too much I want and need to do, and not enough hours to do it all in.
When I was first starting out, I didn’t think of time management as a skill.
I simply had a lot on my plate and I worked very long hours to ensure that I got everything done and built a successful company.
These days, I still have a lot on my plate because I love to work and wouldn’t have it any other way.
But I have become much better at time management.
While you can’t create more hours in the day, you can ensure that you maximise every hour so that you’re working smarter not harder.
I know I’m not alone in trying to fit as much into my day as possible so I thought I would share with you all some of the time-management tricks I have learned over many years juggling lots of different demands:
1. Do the hard stuff first
In my experience, people often procrastinate because there’s one or two jobs they’re putting off doing.
Make sure you do these jobs first.
Once you clear the difficult or unpleasant tasks from your list, you’ll be more focused on getting the rest of your work done.
2. Close your email for hours at a time
Every time that email of yours pings, you lose focus.
I read somewhere that it takes 20 minutes to re-focus after being distracted by emails, which sounds about right.
The problem is we all need to check our emails these days as it’s the prime way people communicate, so the best thing you can do is shut it down for extended periods of time.
I recommend checking emails in the morning, completing a few hours of work, then checking them again at lunchtime.
You can then do a few more hours of work, before checking mid afternoon and then again before you leave for work.
This ensures you will have extended periods of concentration without distraction, while still staying on top of your inbox.
3. Limit your social media access
If you’re easily distracted by social media, and most of us are, then I suggest you download a program that restricts access to certain sites at certain times of the day.
This will make sure you’re not tempted to waste hours on Facebook or Twitter, which is easily done.
A good starting place is social blocking software, such as ‘Antisocial’, which allows you to block any website for as little as 15 minutes at a time or for as long as eight hours.
4. Don’t aim for perfection
It’s hard when you’re determined to do a great job on a project to know when to stop and when to keep going.
My general rule is to not aim for excellence in the first instance.
Get the work finished first, and then go back over it and make sure it reaches the standard you’re aiming for.
Trying to get something perfect the first time around will lead to frustration and delays.
5. Only do what’s necessary
Have a good look at your to-do list and ask yourself what is truly essential. Say yes to that which you have to do, and say no to everything else.
If you’re a people pleaser who struggles to set boundaries around work, then you’re always going to struggle with your to-do list.
Focus on only what is necessary and cut out what you don’t need to do.
Be firm with people who try to heap their own work onto your plate.
Follow these steps for the next fortnight and track how much more productive you are.
You’ll notice that not only are you getting more work done, but you’re also happy and more balanced because your work life feels under control.
It’s a good feeling.
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