Let’s face it, we’re all adults here (not that I always act like one) and each one of us has a crazy schedule. That’s just the way life works when you’re trying to make a living but also have a life. In my case, I juggle a lot of [extremely] different plates in my life; I am getting my PhD in School Psychology, I work part-time as an Executive Function Coach, I run a small sign business, I teach yoga, I build things, and I blog… all while still finding time to connect with my loved ones and my puppy… phew. I’m not going to lie, it gets exhausting sometimes. But, that being said, I still find time for everything and am able to enjoy some downtime here and there. It just takes a little bit of planning and a lot of bit of patience.
A lot of you guys have reached out and asked me to write a post about time management. While I’m no expert, I get why you ask me about it – I do a lot of stuff, and I somehow manage to get it all done (for the most part). So, as promised, here are the basic rules and tools I follow/use to get everything done.
Disclaimer: This post uses affiliate links. They are just there to help show you guys the things that work for me and in turn, help to fund the blog if you choose to purchase through my links.
1. Use A Planner.
This one always feels like a, “well, duh” type deal. But hear me out. Using a planner saves my life. With everything going on in my life, failing to write things down is a sure-fire way for me to forget something important. To be honest, I invest a lot of money, time, and energy into my planner. My go-to planner is an Erin Condren Life Planner (yes, it’s expensive, but I’d lose way more money if I didn’t have one), which maps out my day from 7 in the morning until all hours of the night and also has a handy “to-do” column for the important stuff (for my more masculine friends, check out the At-A-Glance Hourly Planner).
In addition to writing everything down by the hour, I take things to the next level and color code (not kidding) everything going on. Blog deadlines are purple, yoga clients are orange, bills are red, coaching is blue, school is green, and so on… By color coding my important events I am able to quickly glance at my planner and see what my priorities are for the week.
Overall, I’d be dead without my planner… literally and figuratively (because everyone in my life would kill me for missing important deadlines). So, I take about 15 minutes every Monday to plan things out in it and am also consistently updating it throughout the week; a small amount of time to invest for hours of time-saving organization.
2. Not A Paper-Planner Person? There’s an App for That.
In our current age of digital technology, Apps are the “it” factor. I get it, planners are annoying to carry around. But, don’t stress! There are plenty of awesome Apps that can help you organize your time. Here are two of my favorites:
1. Any.Do: This App gives you the option to write down your to-do list for the day and cross things off as you go. Bonus fact, anything you can’t complete gets moved to the “tomorrow” column and the App will remind you that you have important crap to do.
2. Wunderlist: The Wunderlist App is a great way to organize deadlines. Even better, if you’re the kind of person who needs someone to nag you about getting things done, this App will be your best friend. Best part is you can manage your schedule via your phone or your computer and it will sync to both devices for easy access. Win.
3. Set Deadlines.
I know I’m not the only person who has that friend or client who says, “no rush” when requesting a project. I know I’m also not the only person who hears “no rush” and then realizes 6 months later that the project you promised still isn’t done. Not good.
Make sure to set strict deadlines for everything you are doing. Deadlines drive work. More specifically, realistic deadlines drive work. If you know a project is going to take you a week to do, tack a few days onto that deadline to make room for Murphy’s Law (you know, anything that can go wrong will go wrong). Stuff happens. Plan for it before it does. Best case scenario, you get the project done early (yay)!
4. Learn How To Say “No” (Or, “Maybe Later”).
I am the self-proclaimed “Queen of Yes’ing”. I never used to say no. This is especially true when it comes to things my clients ask me to make them. To be honest though, saying yes all the time got me in trouble. I couldn’t keep up with orders, I was staying up until 3 in the morning trying to finish school work that I put aside for blog deadlines, I was even skipping meals every day to get things done. No bueno. Don’t follow my lead there. Instead, learn what your limit is and learn how to say, “no”.
Can’t commit to those two little letters? Okay, then at least say, “not now”. If you say yes to everything you will eventually burn out. Bonus fact, saying “no” starts to feel great when you realize you’re no longer stressed out anymore. So, at least try it. Say no to two things you’re not sure you can commit to. You’ll see how easy it gets when the stress doesn’t start to sneak up on you any more.
5. “You Can Do Anything, But Not Everything”
Contrary to belief, just because you’re busy doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice anything. I do a lot of things, but I love them all and couldn’t imagine my life without them. However, I do realize that there are only 12-18 waking hours in day that I can get things done, and that not everything I want to do will fit. Moderation is key. Make time for everything you want to do, but space out that time according to priority, interest level, and flexibility.
Let’s get specific here. For instance, let’s say I have 10 signs to make in one week, but I also want to take a yoga class, and I know I have to meet with yoga clients and clients for my coaching job. My first priority would obviously be setting time for my big girl jobs as an executive function coach and yoga teacher (rationale: I’m not my own boss in these instances and can get fired if I don’t do my job right). I would jot down my meeting times in my planner. Now that everything is down, I can visually see the blocks of times in which I am free for the other things I want to do. At this point, I can fill in the blanks. I set up times for me to work on my sign orders. Once that’s done, I can look at my studio’s schedule and find yoga classes that then fit in the last few blocks of time.
Prioritizing, scheduling, and planning are an easy formula to follow once you start. Once you figure it out, there’s no need to give things up that you love.
At this point, I’ve probably typed so much that your head is spinning (or, you probably stopped reading 7 paragraphs ago). I really could go on and on about time management and organization… If you’d like to hear some more about how others organize as well, you can check out the Woodshop 101 podcast I’m part of. Here’s the link for our Time Management episode.
I hope this long-winded post was helpful to those of you who requested it. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns feel free to comment below, contact my email, or find me on social media. Also, if you have any favorite time management tips, please share them! I love learning about new organization techniques!
Until next time…