Posted: Mon 21st Oct 2013
The next time you hear yourself say "I just haven't had the time", think of the people you admire and all they've achieved, and remember that they had the same number of hours in their day as you have in yours"¦
Anna Davis (@balancedmum) is a coach, consultant and time management expert As a coach and consultant, I've discovered lots of techniques for making the most of one's time and for achieving more. I've found that these fall into three core areas that vastly increase effectiveness, feelings of control and, ultimately, happiness.
Clarify your priorities
1. Clarify what you want out of your life and your business. This deceptively simple exercise is a good starting point: Write down ten things you'd like to achieve within a year, large or small, and assign each of them a target date. Focus on the one that would have the biggest impact on your life or business. Write down all the actions you need to undertake to achieve that goal. Decide what you can do this week and do one action every week to move you forward. 2. Remove extraneous activities. If I were a fairy (and not just a tooth fairy!) and could magic you an extra hour a day, what would you do with it? Alternatively, if I were a baddie (to use my 5 year old's vocabulary), and took away an hour a day, what would you stop doing? Now, think about how you can replace one with the other"¦ 3. Look after yourself. We can cope with almost anything as long as we are both mentally and physically strong. Schedule time on your calendar each week to exercise and to relax. Keep that time sacred.
4. Organise your correspondence. Start organising your paperwork by buying a 31-day expanding pocket file. The slots correspond to the next 31 days in a rolling manner. Put all invitations, tickets, travel arrangements, birthday cards, etc., into the day you need them (a couple of days beforehand if preparation is required, e.g. a present to buy). Just make sure you check it every day! 5. De-clutter. Don't try to de-clutter your whole home office at once. Break it down into individual shelves or drawers. Dedicate 15 minutes a day to making progress and put each item into one of four 'buckets' - keep, throw out, give away or sell. 6. Put systems in place. Design systems and routines. For example, try to systemise your approach to handling email or even mealtimes, creating rolling two- or three-week menus.
Get it all done
7. Delegate. Don't take everything on your own shoulders. Delegate or outsource tasks where possible and make sure your family have their own, age-appropriate, responsibilities too. 8. Plan. "Failing to plan is planning to fail". Many things on our to-do list are not actions at all, but 'projects' requiring two or more steps. Write out all the steps so you know where to start and what is stopping you. Make sure the first step is a clear physical step that you know how to do. 9. Be punctual. Calculate your 'Stop Working on Everything Else Time' (the sweet spot!) by working backwards from the appointment. Include plenty of buffer time for unscheduled delays. 10. Stop procrastinating. Select an issue which needs thought but which you have been putting off contemplating. Start a timer for exactly five minutes. Make notes on the issue non-stop until the timer goes off. Read through and underline any significant insights or actions. What can you do first?
Did you find Anna's time management tips useful? Anna's tips form part of the eBook Motivating Business Mums, which you can download from our bookshop for just Â£1. Join Enterprise Nation for just Â£20 per year and get 25% off all of our business books, come to our workshops and meet-ups for free, and save money on our other events too. Find out more