One issue I struggle with continuously is time management. No matter how much I wish otherwise, there is absolutely no way to add more hours to a day, so every night I make a mental list of all the things I need to finish the next day. Some days, the stars align and I do get everything accomplished. Other days, I am easily distracted and end up wasting time instead of using it to it’s fullest. I don’t know that it’s possible or even desirable to never waste a moment, but here are some strategies that help with time management.
Get The Worst Thing Done First
Just like my daughter would eat dessert first and shove the vegetables under the rug, I have a tendency to spend too much time on tasks I enjoy while putting the yucky ones off. This is true for blogging, being at work in the office, or having to do chores around the house. How many bloggers out there find themselves reading their favorite websites or checking Pinterest when we should be working on next weeks’ posts?
If I make it a point to get my least favorite job out of the way first, then that seems to make the rest of the day’s responsiblities go smoother. It might not be as fun, but at least I don’t get to the end of the day with nothing accomplished.
I learned a long time ago that it makes more sense to do the things that can be most profitable and delegate the other jobs as much as possible. In my optometry career, the best return on my time is seeing patients. If I have to spend time pulling insurance authorizations or calling the pharmacist to verify a prescription, this takes me away from what I do best and what makes the most money. I can let another staff member do those things while I continue to do eye exams.
It can be hard for type A personalities to let go of total control. Whether it means paying someone to mow your lawn or using a service like domypapers to create work presentations, it sometimes pays to delegate. That way, you can make more money doing more important things or use the time to recharge before taking on new pursuits.
I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time being productive when surrounded by clutter. Disorganization also makes it harder to track finances and keep up with bills. You could spend tons of money on organizational supplies, but honestly, a hanging file folder for paper documents and a few Google or Excel spread sheets are all you need. As soon as I have a receipt or invoice, I add it to the proper spreadsheet and file any paper copies away in a labeled folder. That way if a payment is ever questioned or I need something for taxes, it all right there.
Being organized also means I don’t have to spend 45 minutes putting things away before I can start working on what I need to get done during the day. If you’ll spend a few minutes each evening getting ready for the next day, it makes it much easier to keep motivated and avoid distractions.
Give Yourself A Break
In a perfect world, I would hum along like a robot and never need down time. In reality, I need to remember that it’s OK to take breaks, and sometimes it’s fine to do nothing. This past weekend, all I wanted for Mother’s Day was a day of nothing, and that’s what I did. I watched movies with my family. We ordered take out, and I didn’t clean anything or even do a load of laundry. It was a perfect day. The next morning, I was excited to get back to work.
Constant motion might mean more money, but it also leads to burn out, less productivity, and poor quality of work. It’s just as important to give yourself a break every once in a while as it is to be busy. If only I can remember that when I have 10 million things I need to get done before the end of the day!
What tips do you have for time management? What is your biggest distraction?