As we’re coming to the end of April and with the aftermath of the Easter holidays, it seems apt to point out that our lives are flippin’ BUSY! It’s not just juggling the work-life balance, but relationships like seeing our best friends for a well-needed cake and catch-up, extracurricular activities for the kids, commuting, meetings… and don’t even get me started on finding time for networking events! Regardless of what configuration of events your life involves, it all adds up to constantly running around, trying to get the next thing on your list taken care of.
One of my favourite tasks is generating more time in the day for clients, and that’s NOT by taking things off their plate – no – it’s by looking at their systems and diaries to streamline their day-to-day. Sometimes it’s the simple things that done once, can free up your time for more important, or interesting things. You may remember that this month I’m sharing a little mini-series inspired by National Stress Awareness Month (you can read my last post here and here) and today I want to talk about managing our time productively – using my top 3 tips on using your calendar.
1. Block it out!
No, I don’t mean shut the door to the world (though that can be useful for productivity too) – I mean allocate yourself timeslots to do particular tasks.
Multitasking is a myth. We may think we’re good at it, but in reality most of us are truly awful! The human brain can only switch between tasks so well, and every time you change from, say, answering emails to trying to draft a presentation, you can spend up to 20 minutes shifting gears. So rather than jumping on whatever task seems to be the most pressing at the moment, block out time in your schedule for similar work.
This doesn’t mean scheduling yourself down to the minute, and instead you can group similar tasks together – for example contracts and invoicing may be a very similar process for you, and so you can block these in ‘admin’.
If you work better in the morning, make sure you get those blocked out for your most difficult or complicated work, similarly if you need to ease yourself into the day, maybe start with something easier? I have a client that does her admin and emails at 9-10am EVERY morning, and then works on client work for the rest of the morning that needs immediate responses. Her afternoons are kept for creative work and meetings, and she sticks to it every day. The good thing is, when you have finished the tasks in that block, you can have a break!
2. Social stints
We all know that social media can be a time black hole, so instead of dipping in and out here and there, make sure you are blocking this out too as ‘communications’ or similar. Let yourself get immersed in your contacts’ news for a while (about 45mins should do it) so that you can engage fully. Mindless scrolling isn’t useful or helpful, and this way you will be able to engage better and in more depth, because you’ll be focused on having conversations and interacting with friends, fans, and followers rather than having a nagging little thought in the back of your mind that you should be doing something else.
3. Schedule your space
If you don’t want to get interrupted by last minute client calls on a Friday afternoon, block that time out as ‘busy’. Want to ensure you get a 1 hour lunch break to yourself? Get it in your diary!
The key here is to write that down and put the things that are important to you in your calendar. Once you prioritise your time as highly as everything else, you will be more inclined to stick to it! After all, we can’t be effective in any areas of our lives if you aren’t looking after ourselves, book out personal care and maintenance just like you would a work meeting or an oil change for the car.
Want to chat to me about clearing that inbox or setting up a calendar system? Get in touch to see how much time we can free up in your day!