What Are Some Quick and Easy Time Management Ideas?
Time management is really about getting organized, right? Organized and prioritized. Some of these tips are easy and some of them you have to totally geek out on structure and spreadsheets, so I hope you find one or two that grab your attention and get you on your way to better time management.
But first: a public soapbox announcement: Stop Saying You’re Busy
Everyone is busy. Busy is a four letter word. When you don’t do something you’ve committed to because you were busy, you’ve just told the receiving party their time was not valuable. But wait! Don’t people make mistakes and miss meetings or phone calls or deadlines?
YES, absolutely. And I hope we share a little grace with each other. But what we can’t do, is miss meetings, phone calls and deadlines because we were too busy.
One of my colleagues reached out because they were super frustrated. They had gotten up at 4:00 AM to get into work early so they could get back home in time to work with a client who then didn’t show up because they were too busy and had too many things going on. My friend was also in the middle of a website rebranding and a course launch while working full time. They had rearranged their schedule and so they could attend this one. So the idea that someone was too busy to attend did not sit well with my friend. By telling her they were too busy to attend, the client were essentially saying, “I don’t respect your time.”
I know, I know, harsh! Again, we all do this…we mess up. But the critique is not about the forgetting or about being disorganized even. It’s the words…I EMPLORE you… don’t say you’re too busy. Don’t’ list the things you had to do or the reasons you forgot because all your doing is saying your list of busy is more important or bigger than someone else’s list of busy and this isn’t a contest.
Instead, follow the three A’s…Accountability. Apology. Action. Say something like, “Hey, I’m disappointed I didn’t have this in my calendar and I’m so sorry because I know how valuable your time is. I’d really like to reschedule if you have another opening in the next couple of weeks.” There you go. Accountability. Apology. Action.
Second, Let’s Understand Your Screen Time
Did you know that on your iphone, you can swipe all the way left and toward the bottom, you can view your screen time? Reviewing these screens contributed more data points to my time management capabilities than anything else on this list (at least currently). Tap on that graphic and you’ll see:
- Total time – don’t get trapped in this. Don’t celebrate if it goes down or beat yourself up when it goes up. You’re going to fluctuate! Use total time as an overall perspective of how much time per day you are on your phone. Drastic increases or decreases may warrant a look, but don’t fall in the trap of praise and shame for tiny little moves in average screen time.
- Apps most used – Ask yourself if you’re checking how your own content is doing or are you looking to engage with others. If the top three apps you are using the most are to check on your own content, consider a mindset shift and spend more time engaging with others.
- The apps you go to when you first pick up your phone – this tells you how you use your phone…is it to check in and take a break from work you’re doing on your desktop? Is it to listen to podcasts? This is an interesting data point as it shows you your priority – the reason you have the phone. Especially if the same app appears in the top two to three each week. What does your phone indicate is your priority? – is it social media, is it learning, is it connecting, creating, gaming, is it to connect with family?
- Finally, it tells you the number of notifications you receive (think distractions) – what day are you getting hit with the most distractions? Is this the day you’ve set aside as your most productive day? Which app sends the most notifications? Please ask yourself why you need to be notified…do you really need a notification that your hashtag app now has a new user interface? What do you NEED to be notified about in order to get your to-do list accomplished, or to gain momentum on your strategic objectives. It might be time to change your notifications settings! And if you have a smart watch of any kind, consider those notifications as well. Not only is it a distraction for you, but for those you’re around as well. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and they just have to check their watch because it’s buzzed? I think I’m showing my age as I become a grouch old lady, but I am asking you to consider what is absolutely essential to know RIGHT NOW?
- Did you know your smart gadgets are tracking all of this for their use too? They see that you tap your watch every time you get an email, or text, or snap, or whatever and they track your response time, then they feed you more and more of what you respond to so they can sell that information all in the name of ‘giving you more of what you want.’
This data is available on a daily or weekly basis. Other brands have similar features so be sure and check it out for your particular phone.
Have you ever done a time study? Where you write down what you do every minute? If not, take some time to do this. The Time Study is the grandfather of time management. And it’s very simple:
- Draft an excel spreadsheet with these categories: Category, Activity, Start Time, End Time, Number of Minutes, Frequency, Priority Level
- Complete the spreadsheet for a period of time, but at least five days. Use every minute of every day.
- As you document, Mark the cell green for the Start Times when you felt most energetic. Mark the cell red for the start times when you felt most tired.
- At the end of your time study, the goal is to ensure you are working on your highest priorities in your green zones and your lowest priorities in your red zones.
- There are many other ways to go about this and lots of colors and shapes to add, but this is a great start. AND if you kind of have an idea of this already, then I encourage you to only document your non-productive
- An excel spreadsheet with this information: Down-Time activity, Activity Prior, Activity Prior Duration. And Down-Tme Duration. So, in the down-time activity column, log what non-productive thing were you doing – reading, checking your phone, watching TV, stretching – all the things you do when you take a break. In the Activity Prior, log what you were doing before you stopped and needed a break, were you freewriting, editing, or creating social media copy? Were you preparing for a client, doing client work, or plugging away at the operations side of your business? Then, in the Activity Prior Duration, log how long you were plugging away at your job. And finally log how long you needed downtime. Logging when you take your non-productive time can be pretty eye-opening to what you work on the hardest and what you work the hardest on and this can help you schedule your time more productively as well.
Are you an introverted thinker or an extroverted feeler? Are you a quick start? Are you a Type 3? Whatever personality or productivity test you take to get to know yourself better, you can use that to understand how to best schedule your work. I am an Introverted Thinker which means I will concentrate for long periods of time, often staring into one place, organizing my thoughts, then type everything out in one long session. If I get interrupted, it’s like I’ve lost all that thought process. It’s not the best time management strategy, but I know that about myself and its why I often shut my door at work or go to the coffee house to work. I have to limit my distractions when I’m working on something that requires my full and complete attention.
Here are a few tests you may want to check out:
Get a Quarterly Plan in place
I’m saving this one for last because it is ESSENTIAL. My fear is you are chasing your tail because you have all these great ideas and you run into all these great courses you want to take and your business has just kind of taken off and now you’re not sure how to prioritize your work. My other fear is that some of you have not seen the kind of growth you were hoping for. Neither of these options are good for best practices in time management, your emotional or organization health.
I want you to have a quarterly plan in place! It begins with your mission, vision, and values and continues with your quarterly strategic plan. Without these in place, you are at risk of making costly financial decisions, spinning your wheels about social content, wasting time relearning procedures because you don’t have work flows or SOPs in place, or you are risking a meltdown because your capacity issues are out of control.
I can’t wait for you to listen in next week because I am starting the Strategic Planning Series. The next episode is going to focus on your mission, vision, and values and you won’t want to miss it. JOIN THE WAITLIST! My new course: Ditch the Buzzwords: Craft Foundational Mission, Vision, and Values that Transform Your Business. Click here to join the waitlist and receive a SWEET discount:
In the meantime, I created a pre-work mini workbook that outlines the data and work you need to do before you work on your quarterly plan. Check that out here>> Strategic Planning Pre-Work Checklist
To find out more about my Strategic Planning Services, visit my website at https://kassfogle.com/strategicplanning/
There are a ton of blogs and articles out there about time blocking, time management apps, and the top techniques for using your time wisely and there’s some really good stuff out there so I thank you for spending a few minutes of your day with me.
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