I have spent a lot of time and money studying all the best time management practices out there. I am very regimented with my scheduling and time and it has created a huge amount of freedom in my life! Even if you just cringed when you read that, please take a couple of minutes to hear me out!
This is Part 2 of a three part time management series, please make sure to check out the other two posts, Minding Your To Do List – Everything Can Not Be An Emergency and Planner Manners | How To Make Time For What Is Important In Your Life.
1. Write down your goals
You cannot manage your time unless you know without a doubt what is important to you. Not what you think you should want, or what your business looks like today but a rock solid list of goals that you want. I write these down on a daily basis as a series of affirmations, you can write them however you like. Mine today are:
2. Goals without timelines are dreams
So you can write down all the goals you want, but if there are no timelines associated with them, they are dreams. For example, I can say that I want to have 50,000 hits on my website a month…but with no timeline for getting there it is just a wish. Right now I have about 20,000 hits per month so I am aiming to increase that to 30K by May and then 40K by September. With that kind of momentum I should be able to push until the end of the year and get my goal!
3. Put pen to paper
So once you have your goals written and your timelines set, you need to break down your goals into actual tasks that will get you there. For each of your 10 goals, break down the steps that you need to take to get there. These can be as big or as small as you like, just do whatever you are most comfortable with!
4. DO something everyday
Then everyday do one of the small tasks towards your goals. If you don't consciously think about your goals and then DO something everyday, life will happen and your goals will slip out of your hands. It is super easy to have a list of small tasks that will get you to your goals and do one every day!
5. To do lists instead of wish lists
This is about your everyday. We can all make huge lists of things that we could or might do. One of my friends used to have a 50 item “to do” list everyday. Now, she never actually got all those things done so every day she felt like a failure. She didn't have a “to do” list, she had a wish list. Don't do that to yourself!
I like to have a list of three things each day that I HAVE to get done. Then I add a couple more and that is about it. I don't try to fill up my days knowing that there will be other things that come up during the day that will take up my time.
6. There are only so many hours in a day
Each of us has our own time challenges and I have to say that this is my greatest downfall. I am a great one for adding and adding and adding and never subtracting anything. I will add a blog post a day, a book a week, a podcast, quote graphics and a million other tasks without ever taking anything away.
With this one, you need to look at your goals and then what you need to do to get you to those goals. Is everything on your “have to do” list something that still moves you toward those goals or can you cut out some old dead wood of to dos that don't really need to be done anymore.
Additionally, you need to do the one in, one out like there is with regular organizing. If you add something on a daily or weekly basis then you HAVE to take away an equal amount of time from something else.
7. Ruthlessly say no
All of this time management goodness pivots on doing what you have set as your goals. There will aways be other people who will have things that they think you should do. While it is nice to work with other people, you have to keep your eye on the prize of your business and your life.
The one biggest problem I see with entrepreneurs is that they want to help other people AND that they love fun and interesting new ideas. The problem with those two things together is that it is easy to get off track with your goals and get onto a new track with someone else's goals. Don't do that.
Yes check out new opportunities, but don't it at the expense of your own goals and business.
8. Only do what you want
This is kind of opposite of doing what other people want. A lot of the time we put what we are really good at last on the list of things to do. Because it feels so easy and right, we ignore it or just don't focus on it. For example, I am a prolific writer, but because it comes so easy it is easy for me to think that it is not important, or that I can to do it “whenever”.
If you have a special skill, don't ignore it. Make sure to make it a big part of your business. Doing what you are good at will make your life better everyday!
9. Be nice to yourself
If you are reading this, there is a chance that you are struggling with time yourself. It is really important that you don't beat yourself up. You can't change anything about your time in the past, you have to just be sure to be mindful of your time going forward.
There is a really neat lady who does cleaning help (flylady.net) and she says, “you are not behind, just start where you are”. This works for cleaning your house and also for cleaning up your time management. All the troubles you had in the past can go away starting today. All you have to do is decide that you are going to be better at time starting today.
10. Time management is FREEDOM
I started this by saying that because I have my time so structured, I have freedom. Let me explain that now. Because I schedule everything so religiously, I have work time when I work and play time when I play. I can go out to lunch with a client or friend and not feel guilty. I can play “hookey” on a Tuesday afternoon without getting behind because I know how much time I need to spend to get my work done.
When you control your time you are master of your own domain. You call the shots and you can make every day a “WIN!”