Do you feel busy all the live long day, yet sometimes when you begin to wrap your work day up, you wonder just what the heck you actually did all day?
Me too. In fact, this happens to almost every creative business owner I work with. It can be hard to find the disconnect. I mean, you know you’re working. You’re at your desk or work table, you have everything you need, you’re chugging along, hands moving, you’re thinking, things get moved, shuffled and touched. Yet… what is that you were doing?
Making the time to work versus actually working and getting things done are two separate things. How do you get the two to meet up peacefully so you can feel like you reached your best level of success at the end of the day?
The most common time wasters I know of are some form of:
The Internet and it’s gang of distractions like social media, blogs and for me, shoe websites.
Not having a clear plan of ACTION for your working hours.
Figuring out your own stumbling blocks are easy, but you have to be willing to pay attention. Observe yourself for a day and watch exactly how you spend your time – and be aware of the minutes spent. For example, if you are tweeting about your latest project, that should take under five minutes – but if you wind up reading your Twitter stream and responding to people or following links, or clicking over to photos on Instagram, and then hang out over there… well… a lot of time can go by. Maybe the next time you glance at the clock, you’ll notice that you’ve been on Twitter for an hour or more and that writing that one Tweet just cost you a good deal of your work day.
It’s really easy to look at the Internet as “working”. After all, most likely you’re connecting with your customers, your community, and that is working, right? Sure, but is it work that pays you? Maybe, but probably not your hourly wage.
the timer trick
I’ve talked about the Timer Trick before (Some people know this trick as the Pomodoro Technique – https://pomodorotechnique.com/ – I didn’t know it was anything official when I thought of it, so I’ve always called it the Timer Trick). The premise is so simple – simply set a timer for the amount of time you want to spend on a task and then do it. If you think 20 minutes is reasonable to catch up on and update your Facebook fans, than set a timer for 20 minutes and get to work. You may find out that 20 minutes is to long or conversely that 20 minutes isn’t nearly long enough for you to do what you need to do.
observe your patterns
After you’ve tracked your activities for a while, you can begin to observe your patterns in a more detailed kind of way and really figure out where your time is going and how you spend your days. Knowing your own behaviors better will help you to schedule your time more effectively. It’s a win/win.
If using a timer isn’t your bag, try these ideas to improve your over all time management and to get more things done:
organize your inbox
Every time you send a work email, delete or file at least two others. Having a clean, empty or organized inbox is a luxury and one that won’t cost you any money – just your precious time. If you find yourself getting lost in the world of your inbox, try to be even more productive every time you visit it.
streamline social media
When your hanging out in your favorite social media zone, try looking at it with a goal to organize it a bit. Are you following people on Twitter, just because? If so, put those people on a list and only check that list once a week. Clean up your stream so that the time you spend there is more valuable and productive. Same goes for Facebook. If you’ve liked businesses or people, because you think it’s good for business, but you’re not really into their updates, but still want to be connected, hide them from your stream. It’s easy to do and they won’t know.
give your activities a makeover
What activities can give a makeover? For me, I refresh my inbox almost every five minutes, it seems – even when I’m not expecting an email! This is a huge time waster for me and it’s habitual at this point. Now when I find myself hanging out in the land of Gmail, instead of just refreshing, I file, archive or delete. I still get the mental break that I guess I’m looking for, but it looks a whole lot better in there and when I actually need to find something and it is so much easier to do, which saves a lot of time.
Do you have any great time management tricks to share? Or can you tell us what your biggest stumbling block is when it comes to having a productive day that you feel good about? I’d love to get a good conversation going about this. I know it’s a really big concern for so many people. Share what you can in the comments; I can’t wait to see what advice you have or what clever tricks are up your sleeves!