Become a Time Management Master
Today I’m going to talk about something I struggle with on a daily basis – time management. This can be an especially tricky thing to master for those of us who are moms and are trying to run our own businesses. But I know other people struggle with it as well. I used to, even before I was a mom or was trying to start my own business. Have you tried to manage your time more efficiently but still seem to fall short of mastering the task? I do almost every day. Do you find it intimidating, or perhaps even boring, to try to use your time wisely and get things done? Do you find yourself getting distracted easily? Maybe it’s time you look at time management in a new way. What do you think might happen if you tried to make staying organized more fun by making a game out of it? Being organized and scheduling everything can be fun? You don’t believe it, do you? Believe me, I understand. I used to be the same way. But taking control of your time and your life doesn’t have to be boring or monotonous. If you do it in such a way that you enjoy it, you’ll probably get a lot more done. Try it and see. Here are some things to think about to get you started.
Recruit an accountability partner
Having someone to hold you accountable will cause you to get more done because you’ll have to check in with them on a regular basis. You’ll be embarrassed if you don’t make your goals. You’ll want to avoid that embarrassment, so you’ll naturally be more productive. Having someone you check in with can really boost your focus and productivity, especially if that person doesn’t cut you any slack. There won’t be any playing around or surfing the Internet when you know you have to account for your time and work ethic to someone else. In a way, it’s like having a boss. You wouldn’t slack on a job in the outside world, so why slack on yourself if you work from home? It can also be a lot of fun having a friend keep you in check. You get to chat for a few minutes each day and share your ups and downs with each other.
Set a timer
A timer is a great tool for getting your productive brain flowing. There’s something about racing the clock and knowing it’s ticking down that gets you motivated and in a super-productive mode. You can use your kitchen timer, a timer on your smartphone, or download one of the many free timers that are available online. If you have a long list and expect to check in with your accountability partner, you may want to set the timer for an hour and see how much you can get done in that time. If that seems intimidating for you, start with 15 minutes to see how much you can accomplish. For big things, like article or email writing, you may want to set the timer at 30 minutes to give yourself time to get into a writing flow.
Take frequent breaks
In between productive times as measured by the timer, you will want to take frequent breaks (which you will also need to time). Trying to push yourself too hard will only leave you feeling frustrated, which will kill your motivation and desire to get things done. This is the idea behind the Pomodoro technique. There are plenty of timers designed specifically for this technique. This is one of my favorites for the iPhone. Try this method and see if it doesn’t work for you to skyrocket your productivity. It’s one of the only things that’s worked to help me keep on track. I can focus on anything for 15-20 minutes if I know there’s a five minute break coming up during which I can check email or surf through Facebook, etc. On some of your breaks, however, be sure to go for a walk. Step outside for some fresh air, or just get up and move around your house or your office. Physical exercise really helps wake up your mind and increases your ability to focus on a task.
Challenge yourself and make a guessing game out of it
You can either do this activity by yourself or enlist the help of a friend (or your accountability partner). Look at your to-do list and guess how many items you can tick off within a certain amount of time. Asking someone else to help you will make it more of a challenge for you. If you’re doing this with a friend, tell them how many items you have on your list and have them guess how many you can tick off within the allotted time. Then get busy working on your list to see if you can get them all done before your time runs out. If you do, reward yourself in some way – like with a nap or a piece of chocolate, or maybe even get your friend to take you out to dinner or a cup of coffee. Getting a grip on time management can seem like a daunting task. If you make it fun and challenge yourself to get things done, or have someone else challenge you, you will eventually master it, get more done, and you might even find yourself enjoying the process. Turning time management into a game isn’t something you want to do every day, but trying this once or twice a week can be fun and really help you check things off your list in a flash. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose, and you might just gain a lot!