I told someone the other day that I think I’ve been “busy” since 2004.
Chances are your life is just as busy as mine, and your time is precious and often very difficult to come by.
While I’m really good at operating on lots of espresso and a few hours of sleep, I wouldn’t recommend it as an overall approach to time management.
Thankfully, I’ve also learned much more practical strategies for taking care of **almost** everything on my to-do list. They’re not revolutionary, but I think they’re easy to lose sight of when you’re in the weeds with work.
So here are a few tips for those days when you don’t know how you’re going to do it all . . .
1| Plan Ahead
This one is HUGELY important in my life. If I plan my time out properly ahead of time, I’m much less likely to scramble to get to a project I forgot about, or to make sure I have clean laundry for that upcoming weekend trip. Even little things, like packing my lunch and laying out my clothes the night before makes a difference.
2| Prioritize Your To-Do List
Organize your to-do list by things you “must do” versus things you don’t have to tackle today. It’s easy to get caught up checking off insignificant or not time-sensitive tasks. They’re probably more appealing than tackling that one item you really need to address but are dreading.
3| Ditch the Distractions
I swear by this tip. Put your phone away. Don’t check your email every time it dings. Block out uninterrupted time to take care of certain projects. You will be AMAZED by how much you accomplish.
4| Strategically Multitask
Most of the time multitasking is unproductive. But there are some instances when it makes sense. Try listening to a podcast on your commute or on the treadmill, or answering emails while waiting at the doctor’s office.
5| Choose the Right Form of Communication
Half the time things can be resolved by a simple phone call instead of a never-ending string of emails. Sometimes an in-person meeting is a waste of time. Knowing when each one should be used is key to saving time.
6| Use Tools
Automate as much as you can, from packing lists, to social media posts, to paying your bills. There’s even a tool that will unsubscribe you from a bunch of junk email all at once, so you can finally clean up that inbox! There are tons of time-saving and organizational tools out there. Find the ones that work for you.
7| Delegate & Outsource
If you’re like me, you probably hate delegating. I’m a self-acknowledged Type A individual and I really hate relinquishing control. But this definitely isn’t the best way to manage your time! Sometimes it makes more sense for an accountant to do your taxes. Or for a data entry specialist to get your company caught up on a specific project. Or even for your friends to each bring a dish to your impromptu dinner party so that you’re not trying to become Julia Child in a single afternoon.
8 | Always Add a 15 Minute Buffer
If you only take one thing away from this post, let it be this rule! One of the things that is most challenging for me is not overbooking myself to the point where I’m constantly running 10 minutes behind. Finally someone suggested that I schedule a 15 minute buffer between meetings, tasks, calls, etc. It’s THE BEST thing I have ever done in regards to time management.
9| Know When to Say “No”
I’ve written extensively about how I struggle to say no to things even when I should. I’ve gotten a lot better in recent years and it’s definitely helped me manage my time. Give it a try, my fellow “yes” people!
10| Remember Your Goals
This is so important. Whether it’s career or personal, remembering why you’re doing what you’re doing is really critical to guarding your time. Is that networking happy hour worthwhile? Does that event conflict with your goal to work out more? Will that meeting with that person lead to new business? Make sure that the way you’re spending your time will have an impact on your bottom line.