Time management has always been something that’s interested me, mainly because I’m happy to admit that at times, I’m utterly useless at it.
Because of that, I’ve read a lot of books and played around with a lot of different strategies. Thankfully, I’ve now found what works for me. I still get distracted, go off-task and have less than productive days, but I’m better than I was.
Here are five of those things that have helped me better manage my time:
1. There is No One Perfect Way to Manage Your Time
Some people will say you have to do daily and evening to-do lists of every possible thing that you do, others will say you need to get up 4 am and start a morning routine that includes meditation, a 40minute walk in nature and an hour of journaling about what you’re grateful for.
I’m a bit more “grey” on stuff like this.
Some of it works for me and some it simply doesn’t.
I like having some freedom within my day to do whatever the hell I want, but I also like having structure during times I’ve got a lot to be doing. I enjoy waking up early during the week and working before most people start their day, but some days I also like working till 11pm and waking up later.
Experimentation with stuff is huge and working out what works for you and what doesn’t is important. Try things out, see how they fit into your lifestyle and then decide whether or not you keep them.
2. Use Regular Brain Dumps
Not sure what you’re supposed to be working on and feel like you’re balancing 100s of spinning plates?
Try taking 20-30 minutes and brain dumping all that’s on your mind.
Got to buy your Mum a birthday card and order your niece that present you said you would? Working on creating a social media campaign and said you’ll send a client an email about something?
Get it all out on paper.
Once it’s there, you can see it in real-time, prioritise it and put it into your calendar so that it gets done (or is much more likely to be done).
3. Try Doing a Time Track Journal
This is super simple but will involve you learning that you most likely waste a crapload of time on stuff that doesn’t support where you want to go.
Adamant you don’t waste upwards of an hour or two a day on social media (hey, most people do!)?
Split your day from into 30min slots and 2-3 times per day for 7-10 days put in what you’ve been doing with your time.
Once you’ve done it, assess how happy you are with where your time is going. If there is way too much going into places that it shouldn’t be, make a change.
4. Be Mindful of Social Media
I say mindful as I’m not going to say you need to get off it or remove it completely. As author Chris Bailey says, you want to “tame not eliminate” social media.
Personally, I keep Facebook and Instagram off of my phone. I download them once a week and scroll mindlessly for a period of time and then delete them again. If there’s something I really need them for (a product launch or contacting someone) then I do the exact same thing of downloading and deleting.
That might not be necessary for you, but it is so easy to get sucked into scrolling mindlessly and wasting time. Social media can easily feel like work for those of us who have business pages or follow other fitness professionals, which only adds to this issue.
5. Use Lists
To-do lists get a bad rap.
Most people make them of things that aren’t real to-do’s and use it as more of a psychological “I’m doing stuff” tick list, rather than something that brings you towards the things you need to be doing.
I split mine into two sections:
- A “deep work” section, which is work that needs me to be focussed. This includes things like writing blog posts, researching podcast guests, planning training plans and creating courses.
- A “task work” section. This includes anything from phoning family and friends, going to the post office, messaging clients or getting a haircut.
I usually do it the night before or morning of and use number 6 to guide what I put on it.
Anything that doesn’t get done from that to-do list gets moved onto the next one, and then I split my day into sections based on those to-dos.
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6. Plan Your Week
On whatever day makes sense for you (I use Friday’s), take half an hour and plan your time for the following week.
What do you want to get done? What are your most important tasks? What’s coming up that you need to plan? Put those things into your calendar around your personal training sessions and each day, look at what you’re supposed to be working on.
Planning your week will allow you to be in it before it arrives. It’ll give you a much better chance of putting your time into the right things.
Oh, and don’t forget to put some things in there that aren’t work-related. Burnout is real. Doing things that energise you is one way to decrease its grip.
7. Get Clear on What You Want to Work on
It’s no good making a to-do list if you’ve no idea what you’re supposed to be working on. Unfortunately, this does mean you need to ask yourself the hard question of “what do I need to be working on to get to where I want to be?”. This is the bit most people will skip but it is the foundation of good time management, so I can’t emphasise how worthwhile it is to spend the time to do it.
Once you’ve got a reasonable idea of this, you can start dividing this down into actionable steps that can be turned into a to-do list.
As you can see, there’s nothing spectacular in this list. It’s likely you won’t need a fancy app or a special to-do list journal. Get clear on what you want to do, put a plan in place to do it, minimize distractions and get to work.
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