We all know the importance of time and how no matter what we do there are never enough hours in the week to get through that ever lengthening “To Do List”. The key is to have a plan and stick to it as much as possible. I find that “To Do Lists”, however useful they are, unless they are well organised, you will never see it finished.
Colour coding your list can help, using the traffic light system is one useful way;
- Red for urgent or important task
- Yellow for tasks that need to be done, but can wait a day
- Green for the tasks that can be left till the end of the month.
This system is fine as long as you are clearing the red tasks everyday and doing task from the yellow and green lists too. Or you’ll end up with all the tasks becoming reds, and never get anywhere.
Another way of organising your “To Do List” is to give yourself an individual list for the days you know you will be working on the in-house tasks. This way you can set aside time to get the tasks done, listing the tasks in order of importance, and clearing the list on the day.
Try to schedule in tasks you hate first thing in the morning or early afternoon, this way they are done and out of the way. Also setting times to check emails, and letting your phone go to voicemail, are good ways of reducing distractions.
Weekly or monthly planners are also a good way to keep track of the time you have. Scheduling in time for tasks and setting reminders of when they are due. E.g. Tues 1st – write next blog post, Thurs 3rd – upload blog post by today, Wed 9th – Organise photo’s for new product launch and so on. Give yourself set times for each task, so you don’t spend all day on one thing and miss that important follow up with a potential client. If you find it hard to stick to the allocated time set alarms, every mobile or calendar has one.
Remember regular breaks are also essential, even if it’s only to put the kettle on and get a snack, it gives your mind a break and keeps you refreshed. If like me, you work mostly from home, try to schedule in lunch or coffee breaks with friends at least once or twice a week, make the most of those networking memberships and get youself out of the office, remember there could be work in it too!
Give yourself actual working hours, I know being self employed is about getting away from the 9-5 grid, but if you don’t set yourself a time to start and finish work, you could be working till midnight and have no time to yourself. Working for yourself is about a better way of life, not letting work take over.
And if all else fails DELEGATE, there is no point spending twice as long on a task because you hate doing it, when you can hire someone to do the task for you, believe it or not it saves you money as well as time.
One last thing, remember to enjoy yourself! I know one of the reasons I became self employed, was so I could enjoy my career. There is no point in living life if you’re not enjoying it.