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Time Management Tips for Women – Making Time for Work, Family and Friends
Years ago, while working for a technology consulting firm in the mid-80s, I learned what would become many hard-earned lessons in time management. This was an exciting time for me as well as the industry because of the lightning fast advancements in technology. Our mid-sized company was growing rapidly and I had recently taken on the role of Human Resources Director. This was a newly created role for the company and boy was I excited. But my natural tendency to go-with-the-flow would be challenged by the rigors and demands of my schedule.
I traveled a lot to top universities to scout for super smart talent, all the time, trained all new hires, developed an HR system, raised two young children and went to school at night. Yes, I was in over my head. Well, one day the owner sat down in my office (as he could see my projects piling up) and asked me to write down in 30 minute intervals what I was doing. Can you imagine that! I felt totally humiliated! It is a moment I will never forget, when I realized that I had never been taught to manage my time effectively.
Flash forward to 2011. I now work from home and run an internet marketing company and a style coaching business. And things couldn’t be more difficult to stay on task and produce projects (like this newsletter) on time.
When I see pictures of mothers holding children at a computer, I shake my head sadly. That picture has turned out to be more stressed, non-productive people you can imagine! Once upon a time I used to be one of them, but not anymore. Let me share with you the best time management tips from some of the most successful people I know.
1) Completely clear your workspace of clutter. Nothing creates more mental stress than seeing piles and piles of half-finished projects. Clear them away immediately and notice the instant peace that will overtake your spirit.
2) Work in solitude free from distractions. No TV, no music, no surfing the web, if you are serious about working from home, to achieve the success you want, you have to do this without excuses. Now this was a tough one for me because I love me some good music! Don’t get me wrong, I still turn up the music, but not while concentrating on completing a project.
3) Do not answer the phone. If you’re like me and have kids, put your phone on silent and look at it every 15-30 minutes. minute to see if you missed THEIR call, no one else. Kids love to text – so use that tool to stay in touch. I’m amazed at parents who don’t like texting, especially with their kids. How on earth can they and you stay on task by engaging in distracting phone conversations throughout the day?
4) Choose a time of day to respond to email. We live in a society with email overload of things you signed up to receive and lots of other mysterious emails popping up in your inbox. No matter what email account you use, most offer sophisticated tools to help sort and prioritize your emails. Don’t react randomly throughout the day or you’ll lose precious moments staying focused and on task to complete what you really should be focusing on.
5) Block out time in 30 minute increments for projects – then take a stretch. It’s important to know where your time is going and what you’re doing so you can adjust to stay on track. If you’re like me, you manage multiple blogs, write newsletters, coach clients, board responsibilities, all while creating new and exciting projects. You cannot stress the importance of time and energy control when trying to run your own business or simply be productive. You need to learn the value of time blocking, activity batching and scripting your day. Stretching sends vital oxygen to your brain and energizes your cells. Try it, it really works!
6) Notify your family and friends about changes in your schedule. It is difficult for them to accept. Most people do not believe that you can make money from home, but oh, are they completely wrong. By responding to their every request, you give them permission to devalue what you do. What’s even worse is that you don’t get the results you’re hoping for, and we all know how that leads to frustration, struggles, and lack of productivity.
7) I highly recommend going to bed early. Even “cool and hip” New York Times bestselling author and celebrity Neil Strauss admitted that an early morning schedule allowed him to get more done. You will find that you get “2 hours of afternoon work done” in 30 minutes of morning productivity. Again, I was sure that success depended on the idea of working myself to a pulp. Yes, that’s pretty much what you’ll be. Pulp!
It is good to be up before dawn, for such habits contribute to health, wealth and wisdom. ~Aristotle
If working from home to you means lounging with a laptop and coffee in hand at your local Starbucks or mentally fretting about things that need to be done at home, you won’t create the life you hope for. I’m sorry to say that just isn’t going to happen.
This is how you get MORE done. PERIOD.
You need to get serious about simple planning and a time management checklist.
The very last thing you should do each working day is prepare a schedule/checklist for the next day’s work. Develop a template based on your current projects and literally block time for each task.
To “create” this schedule, use a journal to record how you spend your time right now. Remember my opening story about having to “track my time?” Carry a notebook with you for a few days and write down exactly what you do every 15 minutes. Do this all day for three working days in a row. You will then identify the things that cause you to waste time and you can work to eliminate them.
You may notice patterns where you fall into the trap of checking emails that then take you to places far away such as sports sites, fashion newsletters, twitter, etc. You see where it’s going and so is your time . See why having your schedule is so important. It will bring you back to where you need to be.
Finally, identify the time of day when you are most productive. What I have found is that this can interfere with another family task. This is where the support of family and friends is so important to fill these times so that you can complete the task. Otherwise, you may find that success eludes you for a long time until you apply these time-tested principles.
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