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Time Management Tips for Women – Making Time for Work, Family and Friends
Years ago, when I was working for a technology consulting firm in the mid-80s, I learned what would become of many hard-earned lessons in time management. It was an exciting time for me and the industry because of the lightning fast advancement of technology. Our mid-sized company was growing rapidly and I recently took on the role of HR Director. It was a newly created role for the company and I was excited. However, my natural tendency to go with the flow is challenged by the rigors and demands of my schedule.
I traveled a lot to top universities, scouting for super smart talent, all the while training every new employee, developing an HR system, raising two small children, and going to school at night. Yes, I was in over my head. Well, one day the owner sat down in my office (as he saw my projects piling up) and asked me to describe what I was doing in 30 minute increments. Can you imagine! I felt completely humiliated! This is a moment I will never forget, as I realized that I had never been taught how to manage my time effectively.
Fast forward to 2011, I am now a home based entrepreneur running an internet marketing company and Style Coaching business. And things couldn’t be more difficult to stay on task and complete projects (like this newsletter) on time.
When I see pictures of mothers holding children in front of the computer, I shake my head sadly. This picture showed more stressed, unproductive people that you can imagine! There was a time when I was one of them, but not anymore. Let me share with you the top time management tips from some of the most successful people I know.
1) Clear the work area completely of clutter. Nothing causes more mental stress than looking at piles and mounds of half-finished projects. Clear them immediately and notice the instant peace that overtakes your soul.
2) Work alone, free from distractions. No TV, no music, no surfing the net, if you are serious about working from home to achieve the success you want, you have to do it, no excuses. Now this was difficult for me because I love good music! Don’t get me wrong, I’m still cranking up the music, but I’m not focused on finishing the project.
3) Do not answer the phone. If you’re like me and have kids, put your phone on silent and check every 15-30 minutes to see if His call has been answered by someone else. Kids love to text, so use this tool to stay in touch. I am baffled by parents who don’t like texting, especially with their kids. How the hell can they and you stay on task if they’re having annoying phone conversations all day?
4) Select the time of day you want to respond to emails. We live in a society where email is overloaded with things you sign up for and tons of other mysterious emails that show up in your account. Whatever email account you use, most offer sophisticated tools for organizing and prioritizing your emails. Don’t respond randomly throughout the day or you’ll lose precious moments when you’re focused and focused on doing the task you really need to focus on.
5) Block off time in 30 minute increments on projects – then push yourself. It’s important to know where your time is spent and what you’re doing so you can adapt to stay on track. If you’re like me, you run multiple blogs, write newsletters, coach clients, and handle boardroom duties while creating new and exciting projects. The importance of time and energy control cannot be overemphasized when you are trying to run your own business or simply want to be productive. You need to learn the value of time blocking, activity batching and a script for the day. Stretching sends vital oxygen to your brain and energizes your cells. Try it, it really works!
6) Inform your family and friends about schedule changes. This is hard for them to accept. Most people do not believe that it is possible to make money from home, but they are wrong. By answering their every request, you’re giving them permission to devalue what you’re doing. Worse, it doesn’t get the results you want, and we all know how that leads to frustration, struggle, and unproductiveness.
7) I strongly recommend going to bed early. Even “cool and cool” New York Times bestselling author and celebrity Neil Strauss admitted that his early morning schedule allowed him to get more done. You’ll find that 30 minutes of productivity in the morning is doing “2 hours of work in the afternoon.” Again, I was sure that success depended on working myself to a pulp. Yeah, that’s pretty much what you’ll become. Pulp!
It is good to get up before dawn, because such habits contribute to health, wealth and wisdom. ~Aristotle
If working from home means lounging at your local Starbucks with a laptop and coffee in hand, or mentally preoccupied with what needs to be done at home, you won’t be creating the life you hope for. I’m sorry to say that’s not going to happen.
Here’s how to do MORE. PERIOD.
You need to get serious about simple planning and creating a time management checklist.
The last thing you want to do each workday is to create a schedule/checklist for the next day’s work. Create a template based on your current projects and literally block out time for each task.
To “create” this schedule, you need to use a journal to record how you currently spend your time. Remember my opening story about “do I need to track my time?” Take a notebook with you for a few days and write down exactly what you are doing every 15 minutes. Do this all day for three working days. You can then identify the things that are causing you to waste time and work on eliminating them.
You may fall into the trap of checking email, which then leads to far-flung places like sports sites, fashion newsletters, twitter, etc. took me away. You see where this is going and your time. You see, that’s why your schedule is so important. This will get you right back to where you need to be.
Finally, determine the time of day when you are most productive. I have found that it can get in the way of another family task. Here, the support of family and friends is very important to fill these time slots so that they can complete the task. Otherwise, success may elude you for a long time until you apply these proven principles.
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