Happy Post Labor Day my peeps!
Last week we talked about managing your time – my big personal kahuna of business lessons that got smacked into me over the last 7 years. I still continue to tweak it because it’s crucial; when I manage myself first, only then can I actually manage my time.
My client wrote, “I’ve legit spent 4 hours getting an email “right,” fussing over how it’ll sound!” I remember I used to spend hours writing an email, erase it, then spend hours writing it again before I sent. Ridiculous, gold-medal time-wasting skills right here!
Now that I’m seasoned in how I waste time, I keep myself in check with tricks: Michele reminds me she has kids and can’t wait till a post “feels good.” It works! I also chunk my time and use the tips below to keep focused; I need tricks to get stuff done instead of think about getting stuff done.
These 4 ways work every time. When I feel overwhelmed, it’s usually because I’m skipping these practices.
When you find something that works repeatedly, take note and implement it STAT.
Onward. If a tip resonates with you, test it and see if your results improve.
You are worthee of using your time well!
Chunk your time into 60-90 min blocks.
This one is intentionally first. When I first worked for myself, an entire Monday felt like a dream – a full day to write a post?! So cool! I literally LOL now. I can’t count the number of bad days I’ve had learning that endless time without a deadline is NOT COOL. Why? Because the time it takes to do something expands with the time you have to do it. If you have 8 hours to write a post, it’ll take you 8 hours. But if you gotta hop on the 4pm flight to Jamaica and leave for the airport at 2, best believe you’ll get the post done because you’ve got places to be ‘Mon!
Boundless time is not productive, effective, or sustainable.
The caveat is when you’re in the zone and have momentum, keep going. But even my “in-the-zone” moments last for 2-3 hours, then I’m done. No matter how I push after that, quality and focus inevitably go down.
Now I structure my day in 3 blocks: Morning 9am-12pm, afternoon 2-5 or 6pm, and evening. I write and create in the a.m., do meetings, admin, clients in afternoon. I do 60-min chunks (unless I’m on a roll) and use a timer or external rewards as a break – i.e. 10-min sun bath or dance party. Works great because I use my brain when it’s most focused in the a.m. on creative work, and then use it for strategic thinking in the afternoon. After years of testing, I KNOW this schedule works to make me productive and joyful.
Use different days & times for different tasks.
I can’t talk to humans in the morning. I just can’t. I tried for years and I know I’m not my best until I’ve filled myself up creatively. My preference is to be and write in the a.m. solo.
Mondays can actually be quite friendly.
When I respect my natural energy, the work is better and meetings with real humans are also better. :)
- Mondays I write, create and love myself up.
- Tuesdays I write, create, do team meetings, client prep, etc in p.m.
- Wednesdays & Thursdays I see clients and do “in business” stuff.
- Fridays I write, create, and do meetings, interviews, random errands.
- Evenings I exercise. Stopping work at 6pm and boxing or dancing keeps me sane, happy, and gives me energy.
- Some Thurs/Fri evenings I’ll socialize, but I like to sleep by 11pm.
This works for me. When I write, I write. When I see clients, I see clients. I don’t switch hats. Batching creative from “people-facing” time keeps me less distracted. Multi-tasking is so useless and detrimental for me that every article telling me otherwise can fuck right off. Obviously, it can’t always be this way if I travel or have a big project, and I screw it up all the time, but it’s my strong preference to maintain this schedule.
Focus on outcome, not hours.
Remember: “A whole Monday to write a post!” actually sucks in practice. Saying, “I have to write a post by 3pm today” gets less results than saying, “In 2 hours, I’ll have a draft done.”
Focus on what will be complete after you spend time on it.
Instead, we usually focus on the time we have left, “I’ve only got 3 hours!” and completely lose sight of what we want to get done. Time means nothing unless it’s attached to results; it’s the means, not the end. A better question is, “What do I need to finish in one hour so I can spend my remaining hours on something else?” Guaranteed more results and you feel proud of yourself.
Do NOT override your body & mind’s signals.
Many times during work I’ve gotten a signal, “Go sit in the sun,” “Eat an egg…take a break,” “Stop working. Do something else.” I’ve ignored it hundreds of times with poor results, so now I listen almost every time.
Life works better when I listen.
A feeling will come up in my gut, “Man, now feels like a good time to grocery..:” or “A dance break would feel so good right now…” So I just go. Took me years to discern if it was resistance or if I could trust my body’s real signals, but you’ll get the hang of it just like I did. Trial and error. I pay close attention now, asking, “Am I overriding my signals?” Had I learned to listen to my body years ago, I’d have saved lots of worry, second-guessing, and burn out.
That’s more than enough for today!