Time management is something that is so important for us as coaches & service providers, but unfortunately, it's not as simple as it sounds. It's not a skill that we were taught at school, so it doesn't always feel like something that is just second nature.
Just kidding...sort of.
When you work from home, it is SO easy to get distracted. I don't know about you, but I have the best intentions to hop on Instagram for "just a second" to make adjustments to my pinned posts and before you know it, I'm in an hour long deep dive of the latest Real Housewives drama.
Time management is even more important for you if your online business is your side hustle - it is REALLY hard to stay focused when you're working at night after the kids go to bed or on your lunch break. Believe me, I've been there. I am there. And that's exactly why I wanted to share all of my favorite time management techniques with you! So let's dive in!
What Exactly is Time Management?
Time management is the process of planning and organizing how you spend your time in order to accomplish your goals and increase productivity. It's a crucial skill that can help you to be more efficient and effective in both your personal and professional life. It involves setting goals, prioritizing tasks, and making the most of available time to achieve desired results. When you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, it's easier to prioritize your tasks and focus on what's most important.
Effective time management can help you:
Prioritize tasks and focus on what is important
Reduce stress and increase productivity
Achieve a more realistic work-life balance (let's be real here - as small business owners, we're always going to be hustling, but putting these techniques into place can help create just a smidge more white space on that Google calendar)
Over the years, I have spent a lot of time working through different techniques to manage my time most efficiently. Here are some of the ways that worked best for me:
1. I Stopped Multitasking
Multitasking, the practice of attempting to perform multiple tasks at the same time, is something many of us do regularly in an attempt to be more efficient and productive. However, research has shown that multitasking can actually have a negative impact on our ability to focus, retain information and complete tasks in a timely and effective manner.
Studies have shown that when people multitask, they are less efficient and make more mistakes than when they focus on one task at a time. Multitasking causes cognitive overload and a decrease in the quality of work. The brain is not well-suited to switching between different tasks quickly, this causes a lot of mental effort and leads to suboptimal performance.
Multitasking can also lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. When people try to do too many things at once, they may feel overwhelmed and unable to keep up with their tasks. This can lead to increased stress and anxiety, which can negatively impact both physical and mental health.
Additionally, multitasking can make it harder to stay focused and motivated. When people are constantly switching between different tasks, they may find it harder to stay engaged with their work, leading to decreased motivation and productivity.
Multitasking also impacts memory negatively. Studies have shown that multitasking can reduce our ability to retain information, it decreases working memory and can also lead to a lack of ability to encode information in the long-term memory.
Furthermore, multitasking can be linked to burnout, which is a state of chronic stress that can lead to physical and mental exhaustion, detachment from work and feelings of cynicism.
Basically, multitasking may seem like a good idea to increase productivity, but in reality, it can have a negative impact on focus, retention, mental and physical health, and overall job performance. Instead of multitasking, it is more efficient and effective to focus on one task at a time and then move to the next one. This allows the brain to focus on the task at hand, leading to improved quality of work, better focus and concentration, and ultimately better performance in the long run.
2. I Block My Time
Time blocking is a productivity technique that involves setting specific blocks of time for specific tasks. This method can help you stay organized, focused, and productive, and it's a great way to manage your time and prioritize your tasks.
To start using time blocking, you'll first need to create a schedule that includes all of your daily tasks and responsibilities. This can include things like meetings, appointments, and deadlines, as well as smaller, less urgent tasks like emailing and social media.
Next, you'll need to break these tasks into smaller, more manageable blocks of time. You can use a timer or a calendar to help you stay on track, and make sure that you are dedicating enough time to each task.
When you're time blocking, it's important to be realistic about how long each task will take. Be sure to set realistic time limits for each task and do your best to stick to them. If you find that you're consistently running out of time, consider adjusting your schedule to allow for more time.
Time blocking can be especially useful for tasks that require a lot of focus and concentration. For example, if you have a big project that requires a lot of research and writing, you may want to dedicate a few hours to working on it each day. By doing this, you can maintain your focus and make steady progress on the task.
To make the most out of time blocking, it's also important to build in some flexibility. You will not be able to predict all the things that might happen during the day, such as unexpected meetings or unexpected priorities that arise. So allow some buffer time in your schedule, to account for the unforeseen.
Finally, it's important to review and adjust your time blocking schedule regularly. As you gain more experience with the technique, you'll be better able to anticipate how long certain tasks will take, and you can make any necessary adjustments.
3. I Use The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that can help individuals boost their productivity and focus. It was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s and is named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer (pomodoro is Italian for tomato) that he used as a college student.
He created the idea that working for short, focused intervals, known as "Pomodoros," can help you work more efficiently and avoid burnout. The basic Pomodoro Technique consists of the following steps:
Decide on the task you'd like to complete
Set the Pomodoro timer (usually 20 - 25 minutes)
Work on the task until the timer rings
Take a short break (usually five minutes)
After four "Pomodoros," take a longer break (15-30 minutes)
The Pomodoro Technique is built around the idea that regular, short breaks can help to maintain focus and prevent burnout. By taking a break every 25 minutes, you give your brain time to rest and recharge, which can help you maintain your focus and energy throughout the day.
One of the benefits of the Pomodoro Technique is that it helps to break down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks, which can make them less daunting and easier to complete. It also helps to track the time spent on a task, which can be useful to have a better understanding of how much time is needed for certain tasks. Finally, this technique can be used in tandem with other time management techniques, like time blocking.
4. I Say No.
This is a tough one, especially if you're a people pleaser like me. I don't want to let anyone down or make anyone feel bad. But I found that many times, especially in my business, I was saying "yes" when I really wanted to say no. I became resentful when I had to spend my time doing something that either wasn't aligned with my values or didn't help generate any ROI. I have three young kids, so my time is already limited. Saying no helped me set boundaries, and be more selective about what I spend my time on.
Wondering exactly how to say no without feeling like a total jerk? Like anything, it takes practice, but it does get easier the more you do it. Start small, with low-stakes situations, and gradually work your way up to more significant requests. Other tips to make saying "no" feel a little less awkward:
Be clear and direct: When saying "no," be clear and direct about your reasons for doing so. Explain that you have other priorities that need your attention and that you are unable to take on the request at this time.
Offer alternatives: If you're unable to take on a request, try to offer an alternative solution. For example, you could suggest someone else who may be able to help or offer to help in a different way.
Use "I" statements: When saying "no," use "I" statements to take ownership of your decision. For example, "I can't take that on right now, I am at capacity for the next few weeks"
Learning how to say "no" to requests that take up a lot of time is an important part of time management. Remember that you're not being mean - saying "no" is also about setting boundaries and taking care of yourself!
In summary, time management is a skill that can help you to be more efficient and effective in both your personal and professional life. Setting clear goals, prioritizing tasks, using time management methods like the Pomodoro Technique, Time Blocking, and setting boundaries are some ways to manage your time effectively. Remember, time management is an ongoing process, you'll have to change and adjust as your business grows!
Want to dive deeper into Time Management & Time Blocking? Check out the Business Management Bundle, your ultimate resource to getting all of your behind-the-scenes operations organized in the easiest and most cost effective way possible - so that you can focus on growth.