So, this blog is a day late. I’m a deadline keeper so missing one is something which does not sit comfortably with me at all.
As I crawled into bed last night knowing that I had missed my Tuesday post for the first time, more than that, that I hadn’t even started to write it, I cursed myself for my lack of organisation. Until I stopped and realised something. Here is my opportunity to learn.
This last week has been crazy busy for me. Some of the highlights included starting work with a new VA client, prepping for and going to unexpected interview, meeting with another new client, publishing my latest crochet pattern, working on two more and (most importantly for me) working on the launch of some new products which I am super excited / terrified about (watch this space!).
I don’t want you to feel bad for me – this is all super exciting stuff and I feel so lucky that things are really getting rolling, but it’s also kind of overwhelming!
To top it off, I was poorly all weekend – I still haven’t worked out if it was hay fever sparked by the mini heatwave (how beautiful was that!) or a summer virus. Either way it’s hanging round like a nasty smell leaving me to cough and splutter in a state of general lethargy. These things always come at the wrong time don’t they?
So there is my excuse for not getting to this blog sooner. But it also doubles as this week’s topic:
How to prioritise when everything comes at once. More specifically, how not to give yourself a hard time for not being able to do it all. That’s what I was doing when I got into bed last night. Giving myself grief, until I realised that I quit my day job to be in control of my own time, not to let it control me.
People who live busy lives with different responsibilities to different people, jobs, projects, hobbies, whatever it may be, are always going to experience this conflict. Being pulled in 7 different directions at once. So how is it some people seem to breeze through it? (A. they probably don’t breeze at all but you only see the external result!)
I’ve been thinking about how I manage these situations and get my priorities straight, or how I would ideally like to manage them (because theory and reality rarely meet!) and thought I’d share a few with you. I’d love to hear your time management tips too – pop them in the comments and we can use the hive mind to get this nailed!!
1. What is really urgent?
And is it actually really urgent? Look at your to-do list and ask yourself these questions about the items.
- What will happen if I don’t get that done today? (and does that matter?)
- How will doing this serve me / my family / my business / my job?
- Can I delegate this?
- Is this something I love doing?
- What are the quick wins?
These questions are just examples of ways to bring perspective to an over busy mind.
Take this post for example. I plan to get my personal development blog post out every Tuesday. Consistency is important to me as I feel like I have made a pact with my readers. But as it’s something which is reactive to my present experience, it’s not something I can write in advance. I tend to write it on a Monday or Tuesday most weeks so it doesn’t take much to knock that timeline off kilter. A couple of days where I need to firefight other things is all it takes. I am strict with myself because if I miss one then I feel like it’s easy to miss the next one and lose momentum. But then I remember I am more determined than that. And if it’s 24 hours late, the world is not going to fall apart. What is the worst that will happen? For me, going to my yoga class last night was more important to my wellbeing. And if I’m not okay then I’m going to be able to get the other stuff done.
What do you think is urgent that really isn’t? There’s always something.
2. What can you stop doing?
Another way to look at prioritising is to trash all the stuff that really adds no value or is completely inefficient. I sometimes find myself spending hours on getting minutiae right on something that no one else will ever see or notice. This is the perfectionist in me. You know that messy draw in your house you have guilt about? It’s like that. No one else knows it’s there but it’s still at the back of your mind.
This is partly related to the 80:20 rule which there are whole books dedicated to. Basically this rule suggests that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort. If something’s in the relatively low impact 80% then think about whether it’s something you can ditch!
I know I just need to let go of that stuff. This is something I definitely need to work on. I try in small increments – maybe I’ll leave one thing and see if the consequences are as dire as my monkey brain predicts. They never are, but that doesn’t stop me thinking the next thing really is vital!
3. Be more efficient, stop procrastinating and get off your phone!
Work smarter not harder, create check lists and process flows do everything in order, turn off distractions. I actually tend to become more efficient the more stuff I have to do. I’m basically the poster girl for the old adage “if you want something done, give it to a busy person”. But you also need to be efficient about down time too. Set boundaries and stick to them!
Sometimes I put my phone in another room when I’m working. Social media is such a rabbit warren, I have to have a word with myself when I find I have lost an hour watching insta stories or following funny but nonsense twitter threads about Sharks being Smooth water lions who live in the big wetness…those of you who have seen that one know what I mean!
I try to limit my social media use in the day. A peek over my morning cuppa and then I try and leave it until the evening. If anyone is successful at this, please let me know how you did it!
4. Time block and be disciplined
Set aside a certain amount of time for a task and stick to it. I find this a really helpful way to focus the mind.
The job interview I mentioned was something I saw a couple of weeks ago the day before the closing date. I already had a lot on so gave myself 2 hours to do the application deciding that would have to be enough. I got it done in 90 minutes! This is also why I was surprised to get an interview. But then I’ve learned that over thinking and over working things can be so counter productive. It’s often best to go with the flow and the gut response – I think that probably shows in my blogging style!
4. Plan and get organised!
At the beginning of each month I make a list of what I want to achieve that month. Monday morning, I write in my daily pages all the stuff I want to achieve that week. Then I break that down into bite size tasks and get my to do list up to date.
I’m not going to pretend that I always (ever) finish my list or get everything done, because something will always come up, or you will decided to go in a different direction.
For me, plans are a framework to work within. Just having the outline actually frees me up to either get stuck in or maybe see a different way to go. If I don’t stick to a plan that’s okay but having one helps
6. Stop giving yourself shit!
Go easy on yourself. You’re doing the best you can.
We get so lost in the need to achieve, strive, hustle, nail it, etc etc that we sometimes for get to enjoy it. Has anyone ever said on their death bed that they wished they had worked more?
On Monday I was due to meet a friend for a coffee and because I lost time over the weekend being ill, I thought about cancelling to catch up with myself. But I caught myself in time and decided to keep my mate date. On the cycle home from town I saw that the cows in a field near me have come back for the summer. This event makes me so happy every year and I’m so glad I got to see it – what better way to kick off my week. Do I regret this post being late because I spent some time with a friend? Sorry readers but not one bit! I mean just look at these beauties!
We are human beings, not human doings… we’re not here for long so take time to just be… look around… enjoy… let it go!
Big hippy love