Part of my decision to run my own business was to have flexibility and control over when, where and how I do my work. But the busier that I get, the more I find that I need to become what I call “hyper-organized.” That means, I want to be so insanely organized that I get every task done without sacrificing my work-life balance.
So, over the past few months, I’ve been speaking with friends, colleagues and mentors to find out how they manage their time efficiently.
I find it fascinating that everyone has their own personal system for managing their time. Some people only check e-mail at specific times of the day – in order to avoid spending all day in their inbox. Other people only make phone calls at the time of day when they are the least productive.
Since I found it really useful to hear other people’s advice on what they do to stay on top of their game, I thought I’d share my own tricks for keeping myself organized.
1. Block off specific times in your calendar for specific projects. If you stick to these times and don’t do anything else, you’re more likely to finish each task. When I used to work for larger companies, blocking off my calendar also forced people to come to me to find out when I was free to meet – rather than having an open calendar where anyone can book a meeting with me at anytime. It definitely made me feel more in control of my meeting times vs. work time.
2. Set regular times to do weekly tasks. For example, I schedule Wednesday afternoon/early evening to write my weekly personal blog. If I get to it sooner than that time great! If not, then I know that Wednesdays are blog days. So, I dedicate that time to getting that task done. This definitely helps me to stay consistent and dedicated to my blog.
3. Plan out and track your hours at the beginning, middle and end of each week. I start a weekly project list every Monday morning and assign estimated hours to complete each project. I then check-in again mid-week to see how I’m tracking against each goal. Then, on Fridays, I try to anticipate what needs adjusting for the following week. Using a tool like Freshbooks.com is a huge help in this area. Their “time tracking” feature for projects is my saving grace!
4. Schedule breaks. When you’re super busy, it’s extremely important that you set aside time to take a breather. I’m notorious for working straight through a day without taking a break. However, since I started putting reminders in my calendar to take a break, I’ve found that I am way more productive. Make sure that those breaks mean time away from the computer – like going for a walk outside, or going to the gym. This is much better for me than watching a bunch of funny YouTube videos. But everyone is different. Just make sure that you do something that will get you re-energized and re-focused.
5. Weed out the “must-haves” versus the “nice-to-haves.” Of course, there are a million things that I’d like to accomplish each week. However, it’s very important to weed out what’s going to help you to get where you need to be today versus a month, six months or a year from now. Being realistic about what you can accomplish, and breaking goals into daily or weekly chunks, will make life a lot easier and happier for you 😉
These are just some of the ways that I’ve been able to stay on top of my work when I’m super busy. I’d love to find out what works for you?
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