Lack of time is one of the biggest killers of plans, ideas, hobbies - a lot of things really.
We often hear about the many things people would do had they more time, however the harsh reality is that there is only so many hours in the day, and once you take out time required for sleeping and eating, you're not left with many spare.
"I am definitely going to take a course on time management just as soon as I can work it into my schedule." - Louis E. Boone
There is hope though as there are many ways we can improve our time management skills and increase our overall productivity. Implementing some of these practices might just help you find the time for those once forgotten hobbies, plans and ideas.
Plan your day
Before you dive head-first into your busy day, take a moment to outline your key tasks. This might look like a checklist scribbled on a piece a paper, a calendar with multiple appointments or perhaps another kind of scheduling tool. The Bam Creative office uses an online service called Trello that allows us to schedule our team using a visual, Kanban style board.
To this board we add tickets that are assigned to team members and sorted by day, so each person knows exactly what they need to have completed each day and can manage their time accordingly. To ensure everyone has all the info they need to work efficiently, the following points are addressed on each ticket:
- Task Outline & Deliverables
What is it you need to do? Breaking down bigger tasks into smaller items allows you to more easily focus your efforts and complete them. Make sure you're clear about exactly what it is you need to deliver so that you don't get sidetracked.
When is it due? If the task is in your schedule for that day then the soft deadline would be that day, however also add a hard deadline so that you can prioritise the task as needed.
- Time allocated
Adding a time estimation as to how long you think you'll need to complete the task helps to better schedule your day, and week. Depending on your personality type, over scheduling may seem like a good way to increase your productivity levels, but in reality can simply add more stress to your day, rendering the ability to complete your tasks even more difficult.
Whichever method you prefer to use, ensuring that each item on your list specifies the above points takes the guess work out of your day, leaving you more brain power to be productive.
Prioritise your workload
Once you have your list at the ready, prioritise your tasks from most important to least important. Time management is all about making sure that the high priority things in your day get done and Trello makes this easy for us by providing the ability to drag and drop tasks into place.
Leaving your urgent tasks until 'after lunch' can add extra strain to your day and make it hard to focus on tasks you've placed before them in the queue. If possible, tackle these difficult/urgent/overdue tasks as your first priority - post-coffee of course!
Well, within reason of course. Be aware that those everyday tasks you don't think are important enough to schedule, such as checking emails, quick catch up meetings and coffee making, all add up and can be the reason that your carefully scheduled tasks remain incomplete at the end of the day. Planning for these interruptions and allocating time for them in your schedule not only ensures you have a far more achievable task list, but also makes you accountable for this time. As efficiencies are made in your day-to-day tasks you will be able to track your progress and transfer this time into the more important things!
Also, remember to schedule in your hobbies and fun stuff too, just as you would any other task or event. That way, you'll be able to spend this time guilt free, knowing that you're actually managing your time very well.
So remember, take the time to plan, to prioritise and to schedule, even though you may not think you have the time. However I promise you, spending the time to improve your time management skills is an investment, not only in a business sense, but in your overall wellbeing.