I used to be one of those people who said I loved being busy. And, that’s still true to some extent. A busy day makes me feel productive, valued, and fulfilled. So, I guess I do love being busy. But, do you know what else I love?
I love being able to watch a movie with my husband without being distracted by 18 other unfinished obligations hanging over my head. I love being able to go out to dinner or take a weekend trip without constantly checking my email. I love being able to take the dog for a walk without feeling like I’m shirking some sort of responsibility that’s more important. So, maybe I don’t love being so busy.
The other day, my dad asked me how my work was going. “Are you feeling caught up?” he said. I told him that I felt pretty good about my progress that day, but there was always more to do. “Well, you’re in the business of there always being more to do,” he said, “If there’s not more to do, it means you don’t have any work in the pipeline. And, if you don’t have any work in the pipeline, it means you’re not making any money.”
You can always count on dads for a reality check and a change in your perspective, right? So, at any rate, I’m grateful that I’m busy. But, at the same time, balancing my schedule can be rough. Even outside of my business, I have laundry, dishes, and other home maintenance chores to take care of. I have a dog that needs care and attention. I have bills to pay. I have relationships to maintain. Not to mention that I’m 25 and would like to have something that at least somewhat resembles a social life.
Needless to say, life gets busy for all of us. And, there are times that I just want to bury my head under the covers and hide from it all (and some mornings, I do!). But, I’ve identified a few tactics that not only help me to survive with my schedule—but thrive. Curious? Here are a few things that have worked for me!
I know I talk about the magic of effective prioritization way too often. But, I had to mention it again. Prioritizing your tasks is key for successful time management, and ensuring that you’re focusing your time and energy on the most important things.
Lately, I’ve gotten in the habit of literally numbering my to-do list. Instead of being overwhelmed by this never-ending list of tasks, I go through and put a number next to the most critical or time-pressing items. Then, I start with number 1 and continue to work my way through. That way, when I get to the end of my day and still have some dangling tasks leftover on my list, I at least know I didn’t skip over anything that’s due at 8AM the next morning. And, if there’s still something on my list with a high-priority number? Well, then I crawl into the fetal position and cry. Just kidding, sort of. Then I just know I need to work a little later in order to get that task crossed off.
Doing this definitely helps me feel more on top of things. Heck, it not only makes me feel that way, it makes sure that I actually am more on top of things.
I’d never consider myself a procrastinator or a time waster. But, once I started to pay more attention to how I was actually spending my time, I noticed something that surprised me a bit.
Even though I work from home, I have a series of obligations on any given day. Whether it’s a phone call, meeting, or appointment, my day tends to be broken up a bit. Where am I going with this? Well, when I’d notice that one of those obligations was approaching (say, it was coming up in 15 minutes), I felt like I didn’t have adequate time to start something new. So, I’d spend that chunk of time reading a few click bait sort of articles, perusing Facebook, or watching a YouTube video. If I did that three times per day? Well, that was at least 45 minutes I could’ve spent doing something productive!
What do I use those short blocks of time for now? Quite simply—smaller tasks. Maybe I’ll promote a few published articles on social media. Perhaps I’ll whip together a quick blog graphic. Or, I’ll answer a few short emails I have on my list. This keeps me focused on powering through my to-do list, rather than pulling my attention and motivation away from my work. Yes, those are short chunks of time. But, piled together, they can make a pretty significant difference!
What’s one super practical way to slim down your busy schedule? Get rid of a few of your obligations.
I’ll be the first to admit it—I’m that person who tends to bite off way more than she can chew. What can I say? I love being that go-to girl that’s there to handle things in a pinch. Plus, I love trying and learning new things. So, it’s hard for me to turn opportunities away.
But, there are only so many hours in a day. And, you can only take on so much while maintaining your quality of work and your sanity. So, be realistic with yourself when it comes to your schedule. Take some time to sit down and get a good handle on your current workload and responsibilities. If the idea of taking on something new gives you even a bit of hesitation, it might be time to reevaluate.
I know you’re busy too, so I’d love to know what tips you put into play in order to manage your crazy schedule. I’m sure we could all use some help!
Until next time!