Happy Labor Day!
And in the spirit of celebrating our country’s social and economic achievements we are going to put graphic and web design advice to the side for today and focus on the most important hurdle every working adult struggles with.
Time management is something I have struggled with for a long time since starting a business. Some days I worked so much I barely slept or didn’t sleep at all. And some days I was so stressed I decided to unwind by taking an entire day’s break. The next day I would freak out with how much work I missed and I overworked myself again. So the cycle went on and on.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Sure success requires lots of stress and hard work, but many people can find balance. At least enough to where they can get a good night sleep.
Thankfully, over the past couple of months I’ve practiced some simple but life-changing tips, and my productivity has increased enormously with less sleep deprivation and stress. Even though some of the tips are obvious, I advise you to take each one seriously. It can be the difference between success in life and failure.
Tip#1 Set Specific Work Hours and Stick to It
I set my work hours from 9am – 7pm, Monday-Saturday. I know not everyone can dedicate that amount of time to work. Some people have kids or school. But as long as you set specific hours, it will be much easier for the brain to separate “work “from “home”.
Tip#2 Get Dressed for Work
For those who work from home, this is a clever little way to trick the brain into separating “work” from “home”. It can be depressing after a while to wear pajamas every single day.
Tip #3 PLAN!!!!!!
Some experts say to plan for the day. I on the other hand have benefitted from planning for the week. When I get invited to an activity, it helps to know I already have something important scheduled for that day and time. Also I can give myself ample time to realize projects. This way I can tell my clients with certainty when I plan to work on their project and ask them to be available during that time. For this, I use my google calendar, which is synced to my phone and all my computer calendars. Things will often change and when it does, I redesign the entire week, nothing wrong with that. Always stick to planning.
Tip #4 Break it Down
No, I don’t mean on the dance floor. This is one of the best advices I ever found. Although I set time for general tasks in my calendar, breaking down big tasks by hand on my notepad helps me move faster always knowing exactly what to do next. And decreases my propensity toward getting distracted by trivial things.
Tip #5 Prioritize
Any tasks that you feel will only take a few minutes, put them on the top of the list. Start checking them off. Once you start checking these items off it will become a necessity to check off the entire list.
Tip# Schedule Time for Interruptions
This is the one I have a hard time with because I hardly do it. But on the days that I do, projects get done on time. Why? Because I don’t allow myself distractions during work time. Makes sense right? Schedule half hour interruptions throughout the day. If your day is long like mine, schedule 30 minutes for naptime somewhere in the middle. It’s better than caffeine. Trust me.
Tip# 8 Practice Not Answering Calls or Personal Emails During Work Time.
This is why we schedule a break time. For someone with a light attention span like myself, checking one email will lead to checking out a tech/gadget site and before I know it I’ve lost an hour.
Tip #9 Block out Social Media
This is the enemy of productivity. Unless it’s for work, contain the urge to check your personal social media until your scheduled break time.
Tip#9 Learn to Say No
I have had to read self-help books for this problem. My mom tends to never say no and I think I took from her in this area. I don’t know how to say NO even if it affects me in a negative way. I am constantly afraid the person will be upset or dissappointed in me. Just think about this, no one works for free. Just because you are your own boss doesn’t mean everyone can ask you for personal favors or to hang out during work time. And if they hate you for it, you don’t need them in your life anyway. Still it’s hard. I know. But it’s a working progress.
Tip#10 Learn to Delegate
In school, I was one that offered and wanted to do everything during a group project. I didn’t trust other people and I didn’t want their input. Controlling much? I have learned that other people can be trusted at times to get things done and it feels like the world has been lifted off my back. If you don’t have a team, there are things you can delegate to your clients, many times they will be happy to help if it’s for their own good.
Tip #11 Give Yourself Buffer Time
I charge my clients per hour. But even if I charge my client for a 5-hour project, I block out 6 in my calendar because projects often take longer than you think. And if it doesn’t take 6 hours, that hour can be used to get a head start on other projects. Note: If a project takes longer than that, clients will get billed for the extra hours. I’m not saying to do work for free but allow yourself some time in case the unexpected happens.
Tip# 12 Apply the 10 Minute Rule
We all have those dreaded tasks that take us last minute to get started on. However, if you force yourself to dedicate 10 minutes to a dreaded task, you might find it hard to stop. It’s like the magic rule of productivity.
I used to be a Stage 5 procrastinator. But when working from home, procrastination can take an extreme level. So by following these tips you will find yourself happy at the end of each day. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than knowing projects are completed.
Happy time managing everyone! Do you have any personal tips you’d like to add? Let’s hear them.