When you work for yourself it can be difficult to stick to a schedule. Life happens, family necessities raise their heads, “urgent” queries need to be answered… The list is endless of things that draw us away from our to-do list and carefully thought out schedule. So how can we fit it all in? I mentioned some ideas in a previous post about how to avoid losing time on Social Media, but I thought you might like some more tips and suggestions for other areas of your business.
First, make a list. Some experts say that you should call it a schedule rather than a “to-do list”. They say that a schedule has times with it, so you know how long you should spend on an activity whereas a to-do list tends to just keep getting longer and longer as the day goes on. You should make your schedule the night before, just before leaving your desk and calling it a day at work. Don’t be tempted to add to your schedule when you get back to your desk the next morning.
Then, grab a timer. I like to use the Pomodoro Technique because it breaks it up into 25-minute chunks, which are manageable for everyone. Don’t let yourself become distracted in those 25 minutes (not as easy as it sounds!) and after they’re up, take a 5-minute break to stretch your legs/get a coffee. Repeat this cycle another 3 times and then take a longer (e.g. 20 minute) break. You’ll be amazed at what you get done in those 25-minute chunks! If it’s a big task, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it finished in 25 minutes (or even an hour). Estimate how long it will take you and go from there. Keep your tasks manageable and realistic, and spend time on what’s important.
Before you start, there are a number of things you can do to maximise your time. Organise your tasks by priority. Work on what generates you money first, and delegate tasks you don’t like, don’t enjoy or that you’re not good at - we all have our limitations. There are many wonderful VAs (virtual assistants) around who just love bookkeeping, social media etc. Let them help you.
Clean up your workspace and turn off notifications. Constant distractions are what keep us from achieving more. Multi-tasking doesn’t work either (as much as I hate to admit it!) and we end up doing lots of things badly, or we don’t complete them, rather than focusing our attention on one project until it’s done.
Once you start getting into the swing of things, your stress levels will go down, your productivity will increase and you will notice that you have more time to spend on the most important things in your life – your family. Give it a go, and let me know how you get on.