24 hours a day. 168 hours a week.
We all have the same amount of time. So why is it that some people never seem to have enough and some people have too much?
It all comes down to the choices we make and how we manage the hours.
It took me a long time to learn how to manage time, just like it took me a long time to learn how to manage money. Time management requires a mindset shift in order to be successful.Our time is OURS to be controlled by US and not by others, circumstances or events. Click To Tweet
I’m giving you permission to be selfish here. Your time is YOURS. So how do you manage it?
1. Time Blocking
Time blocking is basically a budget for your time. Here’s the basics:
Make a list of every hour in your day from the time you want to get up to the time you want to go to bed. Notice that I emphasized the want to – however, sometimes this isn’t always realistic.
For example, I don’t want to get up at 530am but I need to because I have a responsible to make sure the boys get up and out the door to school. So, my day starts at 530am.
I want to go to bed early because I love and need sleep so my target bedtime every night is 8pm.
This gives me fourteen hours a day. (If I want to be sleeping by 8pm, I need to be in bed by 730pm.)
What I need to do on a daily basis depends on my yearly, quarterly, monthly and weekly goals.
Yes, every day is an intentional effort to be working towards my goals.
My number one rule is this: I control my time.
My clients don’t control my time, my friends don’t control my time, my family does not control my time.
Does it always work? No. But every decision I make about how I spend my time is measured by this rule as much as possible given my responsibilities and priorities.
Here’s the thing, when I plan out my time and adhere to the schedule, my life is much less stressful because I am reacting to a plan, not reacting to plans.
How do you begin? Begin with a day, then the next day and the day after that. Then plan a week, plan a month, plan a quarter and plan a year. Once you plan a year, work backwards to make sure you are using your time to work towards your goals.
2. A System of recording events
There are so many apps, tools, calendars, etc to choose from when it comes to writing down tasks and events. So how do you choose?
Trial and Error.
Personally, I love a paper calendar. I write events in pen or pencil and use a system of highlighting (different colors for different events). I purchase my paper calendar at Staples or Barnes and Nobles.
I like a simple calendar with enough space to write events, the ability to look at the entire month at one time and a section where I can write notes.
Every appointment or event is written in my calendar.
Using this system also gives me the chance to tell someone, “I’ll check my book” when they ask me if I have time to do something. This is an important measure for me because years ago I had to break the habit of being the “Yes” person. I took on too much and it was too much.
The “I’ll check my book” is my pause to really think about whether I can fit something into my schedule or not.
3. A system of reminders
My paper calendar, whiteboards sticky notes and the alarms on my phone.
These are the three things I use to remember to do all the things that need to get done. We also have a family calendar on the wall in our dining room – well, actually, it’s on the whiteboard on the wall in our dining room – and another smaller whiteboard on the door going out to the garage.
My month and week get planned in the paper calendar.
My daily schedule or to do list is on a sticky note and I have a series of alarms set on my phone. I use the alarm feature rather than the calendar feature because then I have the option to hit “snooze”.
For example, yesterday, I scheduled a meeting for Monday morning and I needed to write it in my book ( I already knew that my schedule was free early Monday morning). I didn’t have my book so I set an alarm to remind myself to write it down. My alarm went off as I was on the way out to take a walk so I hit snooze three times until I got back home and wrote it down.
I love sticky notes because I can move the note from place to place – for example, on the dashboard of my car. Today’s sticky note had the following:
Toastmasters meeting, go vote, go home and write the blog, client call at 11am and then go to the mechanic to drop the car off.
Everything got done on the list, I didn’t forget to do anything. Time was managed.
My time did not manage me. It is now 2:30pm. I am done writing for the day – and no, it didn’t take me all day to write, I worked for about 30 minutes this morning and spent about the last fifteen minutes finishing up – and I am off to the next thing on my schedule.
Time management is keeping to the schedule that was prepared.
It’s managing the time and not letting the time manage you.
It’s knowing that it is YOUR time.
What are your tips for time management? What works for you? I’d love to hear about them!