Have you ever spent the day “working” only to end it knowing nothing got done and thus feeling like a failure? Without a plan or system for what needs to be accomplished there is no winning and you are setting yourself up for certain doom.
If you haven’t read Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy yet, this is a great way to get motivated. Mr. Tracy is a time management genius and it is well worth your time to read it. He has spent a lifetime developing time management habits that serve him well…I am in awe of his focus.
Steps to organizing your work life and time
These are generally in order and build on each one. Please do not skip a step as you cannot accomplish what you want if you haven’t done all the steps!
Plan Your Time
The very first thing you have to do is get your calendar under control. You can have the best intentions in the world but if there is no time in your day to complete your tasks, you will fail miserably.
It is color coded to include Orange – which is the Strategy bits that are what actually make me money and move my business forward. As you can see, my days start with that as I am most productive in the morning and there is no way that I can get off track.
Pink is personal and stuff I have to do (if I don’t feed the little ones and get them off to school, no one will!) Then I have my standing appointments and work for clients that HAS to get done.
So, you are probably a entrepreneur and the idea of locking down your time is opposite of what the dream is. In the dream world, you can spend all day doing what you want when you want it. In the real world, if you are willing to calendar (and hold yourself responsible), you actually get to do everything that you want and more.
When I put something into my calendar, it is sacred. I KNOW that if I do what I am “supposed” to do that day, I can take the kids to the park in the afternoon without feeling guilty. If I DO all my monthly tasks, then I “get” to research marketing and take classes because I am not just wasting time, ignoring what needs to be done!
To Do List
So what should you do to make yourself more productive and organized? Put IN WRITING what you have to accomplish and do those things first!
If you start your day out checking your emails, responding to crisis after crisis, then pop over to Facebook and diddle around there for a bit, you WILL waste immeasurable time accomplishing nothing.
The concepts that you have heard time after time are true. Sit down before you end your day and figure out what the top three things you HAVE to get done the next day are. I do these after I get all my “real” work done (like writing blog posts, doing social media and learning new things!)
Now, you “To Do List” people…here is where it gets hairy. A list of 100 (or a 1,000) things you need to do is a WISH LIST, not a To Do list. Keep that to the side and hidden if you must, but make sure you have a short (I like three things) list of things that you need to do TODAY.
Monthly Goals and Tasks
The next thing you have to do is sit down and figure out what your “theme” for the month is. Our theme this month is “Amazing Social Media” so we have two hours a day dedicated to posting, growing lists and learning about social media. (we use a month because ANYONE can do something for a month and it is long enough to see some results and make the work worth it!)
Things we have included are:
- Writing (Tara) – One hour per day (this can be on our blogs or as guest posts OR writing sales letters)
- Pinterest (Rebekah) – One hour per day (she is rocking the Pinterest and sending traffic from there so we gave her a whole blissful hour to work on it daily!)
- Social media – Half an hour (this is checking in on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Klout, Google+, etc. each day)
- Sharing and Linking – 15 minutes (I have to make time to comment on “stuff” other people do as I don’t spontaneously do this without prompting)
- SS Round Table – 15 minutes (sharing our clients social media posts)
Now, that is THREE HOURS out of every one of my days. If I do not get those things done in the morning, I have to stay up late that night and get them done after the kids go to bed (I am an early bird so that is DEFINITELY not something I am going to do daily).
Some notes about this kind of thing:
First off, whether I did this kind of focused work or just floated around, I would still be “working” all day. Just with the time blocked I am actually accomplishing something that I consider important.
Second off, there is something to be said for the old axiom that we underestimate what we can accomplish in 5 years and over estimate what we can do in a month. With this type of focus, I WILL get stuff done this month.
Lastly, by the time the month is done, at least some of this will 1) take less time so I can incorporate it into my daily life for real and 2) I will have developed habits that will serve me well going forward.
How To Actually DO All The Crap You Said You Would
This is where the magic happens. After I get my schedule down and figure what I SAY I am going to do, I make a checklist for the month. My checklist this month has at the top the daily bits for the hours committed that I can check off. We also determined what the optimal things where to do on each of the “special social media” days and put them down as checkboxes to get done.
I can tell already that I need a daily checklist for what to do on the half-hour social media days as I ran over on time and just kinda hit the high notes. We will figure that out tomorrow in our weekly meeting.
Want to see our checklist? Amazing Social Media Month!
Some notes about this kind of thing:
Good enough is good enough – because we are not going to be using this for years in our business, it is fine to work with for a month. There ARE things that I would change BUT that would take time away from actually DOING it so they can stay there for a while.
YES, you have to have the checklist. I spent the last couple of months of last year floating around without a checklist. Yep I got stuff done, but not on the scale that I do when I have determined a course of action and then set the measurable goals for completing it.
So there you have it…my best time management tips for getting things done!!! Please feel free to comment if so have a great tip I missed.