We all have the same amount of time in the day, so why do some people manage to get more done than others? They are focused, have a clear priority list and they time block.
We try to do too many things, I’m not just talking about multi-tasking, I mean the sheer amount of things we feel we ‘need’ or ‘ought’ to do. When you look at your to do list is it making you feel organised and positive or does it make you feel anxious and overwhelmed? An effective to do list should make you feel motivated and focused, if it’s not then you need to define your priorities so that you can focus on one thing at a time.
The easiest way to do this is ask yourself ‘would it matter if I didn’t do this?’, ‘does it get me one step closer to a bigger goal?’ or ‘does this grow my business?’. Can you delete or put on hold some of the things you have on your list so that you have a clear list of meaningful priorities.
Time blocking is fast and effective and all the most successful people do it. When you time block for the week ahead try to stick to a similar format each week, this will help you to form good regular habits. Be realistic, even generous when you first start time blocking.
Once you learn how to time block you will actually be able to do everything, no seriously, this is how you get a good work-life blend because you are taking time to think ahead and prepare yourself, no more tail chasing and being reactive. This is the ultimate way to keep your life in order, it does require investing some time on a Friday afternoon or Sunday night.
Online is a great way to start time blocking, it’s fast and flexible because you can create recurring events, drag/move events around, colour code, add people and include more details such as meeting locations, notes and hangout/zoom info.
One of the things that will affect your planned time blocking is ‘life’ – yes it gets in the way and surprises us from time to time so to deal with that write down a list of things that distract you, can you do anything about them? For example if it’s your phone (notifications, social media or phone calls) then airplane mode is the best way ‘disconnect’ unless you’re waiting for an important call. If you get an email notification pop up on your screen then disable it or you find yourself going on the internet when you really don’t need to then either start writing or turn off the wifi connection.
If you work from home then do you get distracted by chores? Can you work in a designated office or quite space? It’s really tempting to do things when the house is nice and quite so if you really can’t ignore them you should allow one or two 30 minute blocks each day.
Write down a list of tasks you put off. Why don’t you do them? Can you find a solution? If they are absolutely necessary then can you outsource them? If you can’t get someone else to do them then can you learn how to do them from someone who does know so you can do it quicker?
What do you enjoy doing? How can you do more of it? Presumably this is your passion, your project and your business. Do more of these things, make thinking and creative time. When you start planning your week I would suggest doing the jobs you dislike in the morning and block out time for what you love in the afternoon, end the day on a high. This will also motivate you to get the boring/annoying stuff done and done quickly.
Decide on your working hours and block out time for personal commitments, exercise and breaks, they are just as much of a priority as work. You should also include and make time for personal events that may alter your working day such as travel, school holidays, dentist, birthday’s, even Christmas shopping…
Sometimes a carefully time blocked day goes completely to shit and you will just have to accept that and move on. Don’t panic when this happens, just keep on going, be flexible and unflappable. I also really want to stress that if you didn’t manage to do some or any of the tasks you set then don’t beat yourself up over it, just simply shuffle somethings around and prioritise. Tomorrow is another day.
About the author
I’m a freelance Graphic Designer, Brand Strategist and Virtual PA based in the UK. I help innovative and passionate startups to help them bring their business to life through organisation, design and marketing so they have more time to focus on their zone of genius.
Founder of Carpe Vitae with Katie
Carpevitaewithkatie.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | @katie.r.carr