Three Time Management Rules that You Should Break Starting Now
#1 Stop writing down everything
I know you have probably heard to track your time to insure you’re spending it on the right activities, but you can take it too far. I once worked for a corporate company who required their employees to keep a detailed log of all hours worked. This was great for upper management to get an idea of what their lower level employees were doing, but it didn’t give the complete picture.
Their employees spent roughly 30 minutes each day filling out their tracker, but that didn’t include how much time spent writing notes down during the day or the activities they “didn’t think to log”. Also, it did not communicate the hit to moral this caused. The employees saw this as just another thing on their growing to-do list for the same pay they had always made. This of course caused them to work slower on vital tasks and even make more mistakes.
At the end of the day, all of that data didn’t move the ball forward and didn’t help with time management. So, the company stopped this practice. But is there something that works better than tracking every minute spent? Yes! Start a time budget!
A time budget is exactly that, before the day begins, write down a rough outline for your day and keep it close. This can help you stay on track and not loose focus of the activities that are important.
#2 Forget attacking the “low hanging fruit” first
Have you heard the phrase, “low hanging fruit”? It simply means, the easiest items, activities, etc to get to. In business these are activities or tasks that are simple and cause little effort to get done. Well, stop going after them first. I know this sounds counter intuitive but let me explain.
Let’s say Sarah, a mom of two and an entrepreneur, has a goal of growing her coaching business by three monthly clients and launching her first planner. She gets up each morning at 6 to get her kids ready for school and out the door by 7:30. She has 7 hours before they get off the bus and must spend her time wisely.
Low Hanging Fruit Method
She decides to go after the “low hanging fruit” first, so she starts with answering emails. Today, there are 20 new emails, most for current clients with questions about their program. Three of those emails turn into phone calls with current clients regarding issues they are having. This takes her roughly two hours.
After that, she decides to answer direct messages on social because that’s “simple”. She ends up spending another hour on that before jumping back to emails because 10 more have come in. After another thirty minutes of emails, Sarah moves on to running her Google Analytics reports and her social media reports and reviews them to make a plan for her up coming social media campaigns.
It is now 1:30 pm and her kids are due home in the next hour. Sarah realizes that she hasn’t gotten to calling prospects or working on her planner design, so she begins to scramble to work on those tasks.
Big Goal Method
But what if, Sarah flipped her day? At 7:30, Sarah begins working on her planner designs and sets a timer for 2 hours. She works diligently and gets 10 pages designed by the time her timer goes off. Next, Sarah calls 3 prospects for her monthly coaching program. She speaks to one and is told that it’s just not the right time. Another tells her that she is very interested but would like additional information sent to her. The last agrees to a one-week trial period that Sarah has offered.
Sarah then moves on to emails, because she needs to email the second prospect her coaching program overview. After sending out her overview one-pager, she answers the new emails that came in over night and this morning, as well as speaks to three current clients.
At this point, it is 1:30 pm and Sarah only has an hour available, so she works on answering direct messaging and running social media and Google Analytic reports to review the next day.
Which version of Sarah’s day is more productive?
#3 Multitasking Is Not Always Better
Multitasking has gotten a bad rap lately, but I am not 100% against it. I multitask with the best of them, but I know where the line is. For example, I love listening to podcasts while running reports or formatting spreadsheets. Or I will design social media graphics on my phone while I wait for the chicken to brown in the pan or the muffins to bake in the oven.
On the other hand, you won’t catch me writing a blog post and filming a YouTube video at the same time. Or speaking to a client while I write up social media copy. When your attention is split, neither area gets you at your best and that means your business isn’t getting the best you.
Time management is one of the most important skills you can master in your business and in your life. It helps you meet goals, spend time on what’s important and possibly most of all, it helps you become the person you want to be. But if you focus too much on the rules, you can lose sight of the reason you want to manage your time in the first place. Whether that’s a business goal or having time to spend with your kids, managing your time needs to be done authentically you.