Sometimes it feels like I have a never-ending to do list. I could easily sit and beat myself up that I haven’t finished this or started that or cleaned out the toaster! But life is all about the balance. We have to decide between what needs to be done and what actually is just not that important… For me it is a priority to spend time with family and friends as well as earning a living. Make time to stop and smell the roses not just weeding around them. I love my job, but all work and no play makes me fed-up!
At work, there are many different things to be done. I have multiple clients and making sure I give equal priority and focus to each can be a challenge. The key is planning.
You could plan your work in time-chunks, setting a deadline to keep focused on the task. Turn off distractions like email reminders and social media notifications. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo using a timer to break down work into 25 minutes intervals. The idea is to work for 4 blocks of 25 minutes with 5-minute breaks between each. Then take a 15 to 30-minute break before starting again. It does take a little practice and a fair bit of determination to stick to this though. Give it a try and see if it works for you.
If you spend time to plan ahead then you will know what next week holds. On a Friday afternoon, plan your activities for the following week. Be sure to allow plenty of time for each activity, building in buffers and breaks. If time is too tight you’ll find yourself without lunch, a cup of tea or even a comfort break. Remember it’s important for your posture, eyesight, sanity and your bladder to get away from the desk every so often.
If there are things you must do every day, or week, set a recurring appointment in your calendar. Put the big and time relevant appointments in first, then fill the gaps with smaller tasks. Work out your most productive time of the day, for many people that’s first thing. Make that the time you plan to do the most important jobs. Picking off the easier tasks or ‘low hanging fruit’ may feel like the right thing to do but it will leave the big ugly jobs hanging over you. Prioritise the most important or challenging things then once that is out of the way the rest of the day can be spent on easier work.
Know how much time you are willing to work. How much time do you need to do the things you have to do. Have you enough time? What are your priorities? What can you afford to put off or delay or leave? Can you delegate anything? You may be able to find your balance by outsourcing work to others. Delegate the things you don’t have time for and that don’t have to be done by you to free you up. How much is your time worth?
But of course, the best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry.
What is your contingency when something unplanned comes up? How will you adapt to take on something unexpected? If you have already prioritised your work you should know where this new piece fits in and whether it can be pushed back, or if it should displace something else in your schedule. Think; Is it urgent/important or can it wait till later?
If a client asks for extra work, consider charging a premium rate if it mean hours outside of your normal working times. If it really is urgent to the client it will be worth them paying, if not they should be understanding and wait.
Clever planning might mean building contingency into each day. An hour or half an hour identified as flexible time for work that comes up unexpectedly. Make sure you have a list of things to do so that you can use the time to work through this list if nothing else comes up. Things like learning about a new system or app or writing next month’s blog post.
Don’t forget to take time for you: sit in the garden to drink a mid-morning coffee, take a walk, have lunch with a friend, social events in the evening will stop you working late into the night every night. It’s important to love your job but it shouldn’t be all work, work, work.
Do you have tasks to outsource which would free up some valuable time? Contact me to see how I could help you.