“Time is the most valuable coin in your life. You and you alone will determine how that coin will be spent. Be careful that you do not let other people spend it for you.”
― Carl Sandburg
In my line of work, it’s difficult to succeed if your time management capacity isn’t up to par. To think I used to actually schedule time to catch up on all the hottest TV series just so I could be aligned with chatroom conversations on characters that aren’t even real! Then I discovered just how many hours I was absorbing the insane storylines, when I could have used those hours to invest in my dream. Beloved, there are many things that waste our time without us acknowledging that they do – and if we don’t curb them and get it together by reclaiming our time and reinventing our methods, a year, two or five will roll by with our checklists showing no signs of progress.
As we get ready for what lies ahead into the New Year, I thought to recap what you already know, and have already read a million times, but perhaps still struggle with to get into gear. With a million responsibilities and expectations from the outside world, it can sometimes feel like you are going nowhere fast. Employing the tips outlined below with dedication and commitment, may very well help you manage your time better next year, becoming more efficient and fruitful as you work towards achieving your goals.
1. Say no. That’s right! Learn to say NO! Reclaiming your time means letting everyone know that your time is important to you, and they don’t get a free license to do what they want with something that doesn’t belong with them. In client management, the term “pushing back” is oftentimes thrown around like a victory. It is. Know your limits and learn how to serve yourself better by not exhausting energy in things that bring no real resolve. Learn to say no. The person on the other side of that know will find another way to get it done or look into their own resources for completion.
2. Get your sleep on. I’m a sucker for burning the midnight oil. But, I have also noted that doing so makes me extremely lethargic and cranky during the day. Coffee addicts turn to all kinds of "-ccinos" as a stimulant for not having had enough sleep. I won’t go into the effects of drinking too much coffee, but I will say that having a good night’s sleep can be revolutionary. Who doesn’t want to get through their ENTIRE day with energy still to give and their mind in full gear? Get more sleep. Your mind and body will thank you on the next day, and the day after that.
3. The distractions have got to go! TV, Whatsapp group chats, social media feeds, unexpected visits from the girlfriends which turn into unplanned turn up? I love all of these, and would love the luxury of being able to do what I want when I want to, including scrolling through millions of messages that are entertaining but have nothing to do with me. But I can’t because I need to get some work done so I can get to payday. Conduct an audit of how you are spending your day. Then ask yourself how much of what you are doing is really contributing towards a tangible goal. You may be running around saying you can’t find the time to do something, but as you run an audit of how you spend your time, you will note that there are some things that can be substituted for real productivity.
4. Become task-focused. We have many tasks and subsequent boxes that need ticking. But how many of us are actually seeing those tasks right through to the end. Have you ever started a short paper or a budget spreadsheet, only for the phone to ring and for you to then put the task off for later? How many moms out there have left the house with a clear list of errands only to stop halfway and figure it best to do the rest tomorrow? Like, "let me buy the cheese for the sandwiches today and I’ll get the bread tomorrow". No. Whatever you have set aside your time to do, do it and allocate a reasonable amount of time to get it done so you don’t adversely affect all the other things that need to be get done on your checklist.
5. Weekends aren’t always about the party and steaks on a barbeque. Because my clients do not take no for an answer, I have had to accept that sometimes the weekends will call for some work or planning for the following week. If you are juggling multiple hustles, use one day of your weekend to spend time with you family and loved ones, and allocate a portion of the second day to some planning or getting some mundane tasks out of the way. What this does is start you off with a clear view of what your priorities are for the coming week and the order for execution. The truth is, it all needs to get done anyway, so just do it. You’ll find it waiting on Monday if you toss it aside come Friday.
6. Lockdown. This is for all the entrepreneurial or corporate moms juggling deadlines, school homework, grocery shopping, school runs, birthday party planning and so on. Much like point No. 3, when the going gets tough, lock yourself in a room somewhere and get your filing, calling, writing, planning and admin out of the way. You’ll feel much better coming out of the room and starting dinner knowing the work’s been done.
7. The early bird and the first worm. I’m so not a morning person, but I enjoy the satisfaction of having finished a number of my tasks by 10am. This can be anything from prepping meals, going for a run, getting the car washed, to pushing out emails or submitting an assignment. Try to knock out the important stuff as early on in the day as possible. Plans will change, calls will come in and energy levels will tank, so do what must be done very early in the morning so that you can allow flexibility for what’s left over.
8. Create systems that will work when you aren’t. All my social media marketing colleagues will appreciate this. Scheduling and automation. Using tools that automate my work and tasks such as bill payment has freed up some pretty time some. Granted there’s a lot of work required on the front end, but the back-end becomes easier to manage when things are happening behind the scenes while you focus on other things.
Also, delegate. You can’t do everything all the time. If you are working with a team to get things done, delegate tasks among yourselves and ensure accountability. This way, things are still moving even when it doesn’t feel like it.
9. Take a second to breathe. I don’t mean step away from your desk to scroll through your social media feed. I mean, literally disconnect completely for 30 minutes to an hour if you can. No phones, no music, no diary with a long list staring back at you. Take a second to become one with your mind and body without the host of stimulants that keep our senses in overdrive anyway. If you find this hard to do, shift gears and take a walk around the block. Nature and the outdoors have a calming effect. Trust me when I say this – it really makes a difference.
10. Do less. You’ve heard this before – “less is more.” Prioritise. We oftentimes want to do everything, be around everyone and go everywhere all in 24 hours. This ladies and gentlemen, is a great catalyst for burn out. In the PR world we juggle a million requests, but not all of them are relevant to the key objective at hand. Ascertain what’s critical then revert to my first point – saying no – when the demands don’t stand to serve you in a meaningful way. Try it – you’ll thank yourself for giving yourself permission to do less later.
Rudimentary yet profound. Like I said, you’ve probably heard of these and many such similar hacks before, but you’ll only experience a real difference when you start applying them to your life. Do visit my Facebook page to share any other tips that have worked for you!
Your Reinvention coach