Friday, 13 April 2012

Managing your Time - 3 Top Tips

Effective time management is something that I've struggled with for a while now.  I'm not a naturally organised person, which doesn't help - but I know I'm not alone.

 moustache/must dash clock

One of my problems is that I just want to do everything . . . 

  • I paint and make stuff for my own little online business which (although small) is most definitely busy. 
  • I grow vegetables and fruit (I always aim to grow more than I actually do!). 
  • I make jam and chutney with the harvest gluts. 
  • I keep chickens (lovely eggs and not really all that time consuming, to be fair).
  • I make meals from scratch because I want to be healthy and I need to eat gluten free - and I always make extra batches for the freezer. 
  • I sew and want to sell the patterns I design. 
  • I write and want to publish and sell e-books. 
  • I draw and want to share my images in some way - probably as digital stamps for cardmakers.
  • I have two blogs and occasionally guest post on other blogs, too. 
  • I run Handmade Monday every week and make a point of visiting every participating blog. 
  • I'm still trying to "finish" the house & as a result I have a few furniture projects on the go and ready to start.  I love the personality and sturdiness in a shabby-chic'd piece of old furniture.
  • I have four kids and four grandkids. 
  • And I have elderly parents who increasingly need my time and attention.

I guess you can probably see why time management is something I feel I need to master!

Consequently, I've read quite a bit on time management now.  And, whichever book I pick up, it seems to boil down to two main things:

 lists on my whiteboards

1. Lists

Everyone's idea of what makes an effective list varies, but I found that a combination of a book (because it's harder to misplace than a scrap of paper and because you can see how far you've come, when you flick back through it) and a dry wipe board on the wall (because it's an obvious, instant reminder and even harder to misplace than a book!) works for me.  My main lists are really for setting targets for the day (I always set them the night before - it's a great way of kick-starting your motivation each morning as the decisions are already made).  I think maybe I need to make long-term lists, too - weekly and monthly (and maybe annual) targets and plans.  I've had an idea about that, and I have something to share with you - watch this space for more info!

lists in books

2. Break your time up into chunks

I've discovered that when you have a lot to do, it pays to focus on one thing at a time, otherwise you spend all your time running around looking and feeling busy but actually achieving very little.  You could try committing to something for just 15 or 20 minutes at a time, or maybe even 2 hours.  Whatever suits you, really.  Shorter time spans are great for working on things you really don't want to do (like tidying up or doing the accounts).  It becomes easier when you know you're only going to spend 20 minutes on it.  It's amazing what can be achieved in just one 20-minute session, but when you add them up over a week, well... just try it and see what you think.

And that's really the crux of it. 

What? I promised you three tips?  Oh, OK then...

3. Treats and Breaks

I remember, as a adult education teacher, finding out that the optimium learning time for any subject was an hour and a half.  If you spend longer on a subject, the chances are you don't actually learn more.  I suspect that an hour and a half is also just a nice time to work solidly without a break  - and then treat yourself to 15 minutes with a snack, a drink and  a chat on Twitter or some blog reading.  Hell, even pick up a paperback or magazine and switch off completely for a little while.  Treats are important if you don't want to burn out!

there's always time for coffee and cake

I'd love to hear your time management tips - please leave a comment if you have anything to add!


Whitney-Anne Baker said...

Blimey! I thought I did a lot! I'm with you all the way on all of the above . . . lists, lists and more lists!

Myth Illogical said...

I asked for a nice diary/planner for Christmas so that I could manage my time a little better- it helps me to put everything in it- plans for going out, things I need to sort out, and lists of household jobs. Helps me keep track of what needs doing, and is a record of what's been done!

Free Spirit Designs said...

wow Wendy, i feel exhausted just reading through your itinerary!

i'm not sure i'm in a position to advise on time management - i am surrounded by many many scraps of paper in my little work area upon which many lists have been illegibly scrawled, soon to be submerged under yet more 'reminders' - i am a fan of lists though - if nothing else, at least writing a list of 'to do's' at the end of the day helps you get a better night's sleep :)

Perhaps because i am prone to overwhelm and aimless meandering through my tasks for the day, i have learnt one important time management and that is -PRIORITISE! if you're like me, you need to accept that you just ain't going to get everything done, so set realistic goals, and forget the rest...!

hope this helps someone!! :)