For any of you nerds out there, you’ll get Amma’s post title reference (Doctor Who anyone?). But at the heart of her post she walks you through some great time management tips. And, in an age where we are so connected, some of us need that gentle nudge to really cut the clutter and focus. Take it away, Amma!
One of the hardest things that most creatives have to overcome is the art of time management. It is so easy to disappear down the rabbit hole of the internet, or simply get so absorbed in a project that other key tasks fall by the wayside. One of my biggest personal challenges that I’ve had to face is the way that I manage my time. So, I’m going to share some of the things that have helped to make me more efficient.
To Do List’s Done Differently
I learned this handy trick from a fantastic book called ‘Do it Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Mangement’ by Mark Forster: Break your to-do list into sectors.
Psychologically, seeing four mini-lists in front of you is far better than seeing one gargantuan list. Mini-lists make everything appear more achievable. And, it is easier to manage tasks that are clearly segmented (works the same with miniature food – mini-cupcakes don’t seem as bad as regular cupcakes…do they!).
As the day progresses if everything is done then I then begin a new list for tomorrow. It might seem that you ‘shouldn’t postpone ’til tomorrow what you can do today;’ but closing your list once your tasks are complete is a way to avoid burnout. And, you can learn to audit patterns if you notice that the same items are always left undone, then strive to do them first or find someone to help.
Apart from day to day planning, I have quarterly plan that I like to adhere to. Issues with time management often happen when we try to do too much at once. By scheduling things quarterly and really analyzing your calendar, it can prevent you from biting off more than you can chew. You can also set limits on how many events you attend or projects that you take on. Your mantra should always be ‘over deliver and under promise’. Also, don’t be afraid to kill a project if you can’t do it!
It is far better focus on doing a few projects incredibly well – as opposed to scattering your attention and doing lots of things poorly. The higher the quality of your output the higher the rewards and the better your business.
One of the biggest time drains for me is a newspaper of evil called the Daily Mail. I always mean read for only 5 to 10 minutes. But, before you know it, it’s 3 hours later and I’m looking at Kim Kardashian’s booty or reading armchair critic comments about Victoria Beckham; basically indulging in a lot of judgmental, time-devouring rubbernecking. The way to wean yourself off your ‘net surfing addiction, my friends, is Leechblock – A plug-in that works on Mozilla Firefox that actively blocks you from accessing particular sites during the day.
Rescuetime is another amazing tool that actually analyzes your time and programs that you use. The great thing about it is that it runs as a background program, so you can’t game it by pretending to work when you are not.
You also have the option of having Rescuetime send a weekly update (or you can review each day online). Rescuetime allows you to see where you are spending your hours online and offline (it measures time used on software packages too) which allows you to take steps to effectively manage things better.
Schedule Your Social Media Time
Social media, though great for networking, can obviously be very distracting, so analyze your day, and work out the times where you are most switched on and that time should be dedicated to work. Leave the social media for less ‘full on’ periods of the day so that your ‘best’ hours are given to working on your business.
You won’t get anywhere by working yourself to the bone, and if you don’t find little ways to reward yourself you will start self sabotaging your work routine; it’s the inner child’s way of saying it doesn’t like the way that you are treating it. When I redesigned my blog earlier in the year I bought myself some shoes I’d had a crush on as my reward. If I finish my to-do list, then it might be a film, my favourite dessert, doing my nails, or having a decadent, skin wrinkling, super long, bubble bath.
Finally, don’t be rigid – self discipline and time management is important; however life means that you can’t always guarantee that a day is going to run smoothly. There are always random events that can cause you to veer of course – so don’t beat yourself up, and most importantly make sure that your scheduling style works for you!
Image Source: BBC
Amma is an invitation designer and blogger of Beyond Beyond, a UK and destination wedding blog focused on design, photography, and wedding inspiration. Amma also runs a graphic and web design studio, and print design shop.