And just like that, 2016 has arrived! Have you set new goals, promised yourself to improve in different areas of your life and particularly, your business? If you’re like most of the people I know (including myself) that answer is a big yes! And one thing in particular that always helps to balance life when it is managed correctly? Time! That’s why these Time Management Tips for the New Year are certain to set you off in the right direction. Learn how to finally run your business the way you want, instead of allowing your business to run you!
1. Set Boundaries
So let’s be real. Show of hands on who has a REALLY hard time saying no. Ummm…. raise your hand! I know that most of us have this issue. It’s like it’s engrained in our female DNA to always be people-pleasers and say yes to as many things as possible, even if it’s not in our best interests. Why do we do this to ourselves? There have been times when I didn’t even know what the word boundary meant. Responding to emails 24 hours a day, setting up meetings on weekends, which were supposed to be devoted to my family, allowing texts to come through at all hours of the day, no matter if the matter-at-hand was something trivial that definitely could have waited. It was my own fault! And I know I’m not alone.
Through the years I’ve heard this from countless business woman who have had the same struggles. They feel that push/pull that comes from owning a business or being at the top of a company. It’s nothing new! But no matter what your career aspirations are, it’s important to know that you don’t need to make yourself available 24 hours a day for everyone. Taking time for yourself will only make you better for your business and will give you the energy and focus you need to clearly see your goals through.
If you’re afraid to set these boundaries, fear not! Generally, I’ve found that if you explain things nicely and put the timeframes for when you WILL be available, people will get it, respect it, and follow it. Give it a shot! As Warren Buffet has said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that the very successful people say NO to almost everything!"
OK, now I’m SO guilty of this one! I think I need things done a certain way. My way, if you don’t mind! Even if I don’t enjoy specific tasks, I’m determined to be the one that finishes everything up, just so I know that it’s all done exactly how I want.
This is a part of myself that I have worked on a lot over the last year, and I’m happy to say that I’m still alive and kicking and the world didn’t come crashing down! Can you even believe it! If you don’t enjoy doing a specific task in your business, why in the world are you wasting your time doing it? Spend your time on the things that bring in money, that you enjoy, and that ONLY YOU can accomplish.
So you’re a one-woman show who doesn’t have someone around that you can delegate things to? Not a problem? Virtual Assistants are becoming more and more commonplace in today’s technology-driven society and something that I have benefited from myself. By finding the right fit, they will truly become someone you rely on and appreciate when you’re looking to alleviate the burden of items from your plate!
3. Be Intentional
Take one day a week to spend on specific tasks that you generally work on inconsistently throughout the week. For example, block yourself off for the entire day. No coaching, no meetings, no consultations, nothing. This will allow you to focus on your own business and the things that you can whip out without having to stop and start them over and over. You’ll more than likely find that things are getting done faster and you have streamlined the process!
It’s also a great idea to do all meetings you are going to need to do on specific days. Stop breaking things up over 5 or 6 days a week and be intentional. Schedule yourself for all day on Tuesdays and Wednesday for the meetings you are going to need to have. But make sure you give yourself a little buffer between each meeting so you have a chance to check email, grab a snack, or hit the restroom!
I’ve also found that by leaving one day a week open, which for me, generally is Fridays, I am able to finish up those not-quite-finished activities that have cropped up or that I just didn’t get a chance to finalize. It also gives me time for my own personal development and education. Obviously, some weeks need to be tweaked depending on what is going on, but by breaking my weeks down to specific activities for every day, I’ve found that I’ve been able to accomplish a lot more and stay focused in the time that I have.
Another way to stay intentional is by spending 15 minutes every day to plan either the day ahead of you right away in the morning, or the following day, once your ending your work day. Complete this time plan and you’ll keep yourself on-track for the intentional items that need your attention. Also keep in mind when your best focus for the day lies. Are you a morning person? Than try to fill your most important tasks right away that need your 100% attention. Are you better in the afternoon? Than save those tasks for later in the day. By completing your most important tasks at the time that works best for you, you’ll know your day has been a success!
Schedule the time for yourself for these specific activities and you’ll create the time blocks you need for the high-priority items you need to keep at the top of your list!
4. Give Yourself A Break
Despite how you may feel right now, you don’t ALWAYS have to be on the go! Stop feeling guilty for taking a little time for yourself and take the breaks that you need to reenergize and stay sane!
Another way to give yourself a break? Stop answering all of those phone calls and emails just because they show up! Disconnect if you need to. Turn your email off for a specific amount of time to make sure you don’t have that distraction to take yourself away from what is at hand. Better yet? Use Tip #3 and be intentional for the time you answer email and return phone calls. Schedule it and make sure you have this daily plan to keep yourself on rack! This eliminates the need for any guilt and will give you time for those breaks you rightly deserve!
A third way to give yourself a break is by knowing that you can’t do it all in your head. Why are you so scared to create some organizing systems? Get that calendar to work FOR you that you carry around everywhere on your phone, computer and tablet and stop trying to remember everything that goes through your head. Being organized is going to save you tons of time. Most organizing systems aren’t complicated to implement, it’s all about streamlining the things that filter through your desk everyday. Stay on top of everything and make sure that projects, to-do lists, and other information doesn’t fall to the wayside.
5. Stop Multitasking
We’ve all heard how we should be queens at multitasking in all areas of our life. What? You mean you can’t make dinner, help the kids with their homework, close that big deal at the office, and work out for your required 30 minutes at the same time? Well… me either! Multitasking may sound like that buzz word that people used to be so on top of, but it turns out that it actually takes away from everything you’re trying to do. Your focus isn’t on anything in particular and that means that all of those things you’re trying to “multitask” on are not getting the best of you. Do one thing at a time!
While multitasking may not be recommended, that doesn’t mean that you can’t work to batch similar tasks together in a specific timeframe. If you know you need to schedule 3 meetings, write 2 agendas, and build content for your next 2 seminars, it wouldn’t make sense to intermingle those tasks. Schedule yourself intentionally and group the like tasks and do them consecutively. It will keep your mind in the right focus and allow everything to flow instead of having to re-orient yourself to a new task.
I’m going to break my own rule, though. Just once! And that’s when you’re waiting. You may not consider it “multitasking” when you’re riding the subway, or sitting in a waiting room, or staring blankly into space when you’re on the elliptical, but things can be done here! Are you waiting to read that latest article that was sent to you about meeting spaces and you’ve been struggling to find the time to finish it? Bingo. You just found it! Utilize this time where you otherwise would just be sitting and bored (and perhaps getting irritated if you’ve been waiting for long) and be productive! That’s the only time I’ll promote multitasking!
Give yourself the focus you need for the most important things, but don’t let the idle time you may have go to waste.
If you currently find yourself being interrupted often and pulled in a million directions, try to use some of these tips to take back your time! You want to be happy with the work you do and happy with the life you’re creating. It’s possible! By knowing yourself and setting your limits and priorities, you’re going to take back your time and watch wonderful things take place!