GET TIME ON YOUR SIDE! A CREATIVE APPROACH TO TIME MANAGEMENT
A lot of the tips and tricks out there on time management and productivity remind us to:
Create a daily routine
Tackle the hard stuff first – eat that frog!
It’s helpful for sure, a lot of the strategies do in fact work. Yet, sometimes even with all the time management tips and tools out there, we can’t get it to stick.
It goes a layer deeper than simply “managing” our time and instead boils down to befriending it.
This blog will give you some time befriendment strategies to try out for yourself – so you can stop trying to constantly manage your time and be it’s best buddy instead!
I used to be the best time manager…
In the interview, she told me she sees me as productive, efficient, and organized and asked what my time management strategies are?
I’m glad people see me this way, I must be doing something right. But, I was honestly a little at a loss for words because compared to how I like to feel, I haven’t been feeling that way at all in regards to my time management.
Realistically, this has been going on since November 2022 (as I’m writing this it’s September 2023 – that’s almost an entire year)!
I’ve been slowly, quietly struggling this year to get on track, stay on track, and not completely max myself out.
My goal is to run my business and live my life in a way that feels INCREDIBLY GOOD to ME.
And that hasn’t exactly been happening.
I’ve given away that sweet sweet resource to lots things that probably didn’t deserve it.
Due to lots of sicknesses and personal stuff, my attention and focus has just been scattered in so many different directions.
I found myself working in pockets and pieces, whenever I could squeeze something in, never looking long term or giving myself proper amounts of creative and concentrated time.
When I reflected on what had changed, I discovered the problem. Since November, I’d been desperately trying to reclaim the reigns and MANAGE time. Get a GRASP on time. FORCE things in here, there, and everywhere.
So I started to wonder… what would it be like to make time my friend again? Get it back on Team Emily? Working FOR me in a collaborative way.
Back in 2021 I wrote an article for Brainz Magazine titled, “Don’t Manage Your Time, Befriend it!” and after my discovery, I went back and re-read the article to soak up my own words around time befriendment vs. time management.
Here’s what I pulled away as it relates to making TIME your new best friend!
Your Time Matters.
It’s a limited resource, and like me, you probably want to spend less time doing what you don’t wanna’ do and more time doing what you LOVE!
But sometimes we treat time like it doesn’t matter by:
- Packing our schedule full of things we have no desire to do (or even dread!)
- Wishing it would go faster, or slower, or not exist
- Running around complaining that we need more of
- Overestimating or underestimating what we can do with it
- Racing from to thing exhausted, depleted, and out of breath
On the flip side: when we realize how much our time matters, we can choose to live in a way that FOCUSES the time we do have on what is most important to us and then say YES to those things and no to the rest.
Time is on our side, when we’re showing it how much it matters to us:
Hours feel lighter and make us feel good inside while we create things that impact others or spend time with others. We feel more in flow. We feel like we have enough, and we can move through our day with less overwhelm and pressure.
Where is Your Time Going? The first step on the path forward…
You need to know what you’re working with. Which is why the place I like to begin is to make a list of absolutely EVERYTHING I’m spending my time doing.
You can do this a few ways:
- You can track everything you spend your time doing for a week (make sure you include business days and weekend days!)
- You can sit down and write out each and every last commitment you have to yourself and others. I’m talking everything! Self-care, family time, meetings, clients, events, workshops, what you’re committed to marketing-wise in your business, monthly tasks and to-do’s, ALL OF IT.
- You can just brain dump everything that’s coming up the next few weeks or months
Especially if you’re experiencing overwhelm or unsure of what to prioritize, what should stay and what can go, this is a great place to start.
Once you know where your time is going, check in on your values and goals
- Does what I’m doing match up to what I value and where I’m headed?
- Is this what I want my life to look like?
- Am I focused on what I want to be known for and do?
Sometimes the answer is no.
Now, you have options . You can cancel things and take them off your plate. Or, you can draw a line in the sand and NOT say yes in the future.
Take a good hard look and be honest with yourself in considering what on that list you really love and value.
There may also be items you can delegate, do later, do more slowly and pull back a bit, and of course, delete altogether.
Categorize and Choose
After you have your beautiful (or frighteningly long) list, you can add in categories and choose where you want things to go. Whether that be in your physical calendar, digital calendar, a project management tool, or just a page in your notebook.
Put things into spots that allow you to actually give them the time and focus they deserve.
Example: On my list is “Prep for WBL Workshop”. I happen to know this workshop is taking place on a Tuesday, so I realistically need to add that task to the Friday prior so that I feel prepared and ready for the following Tuesday’s presentation.
Transfer the things taking up your mental space to actual spots on your calendar where you can give them the time and attention they deserve.
Another way to befriend your time is to work your way backwards…
Most of us are probably can’t clear our calendar or delete everything and start fresh tomorrow, but here’s what we CAN do as a small step.
Start discovering how you’d like your life to look.
What’s a day in YOUR life that would feel really good for you?
Sit down and really write it out:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, weekend – what do you want to be doing on those days?
Then, you start working your way backwards…
Examples: You need a CEO Day to focus on your business. You decide Fridays are the day and no longer book anything on Fridays. You don’t take calls before 10am because you’re not awake yet moving forward, or after 3pm, etc.
But oh no, you look at your calendar and you’re booked for the next… nine Fridays! Or the next six Wednesdays have 8am calls! You can start working your way backwards right now!
Draw a line in the sand and say, that from this date forward, nothing gets booked on Fridays (maybe you even cancel anything that you can that’s already occupying that time).
You can do this with any day of the week, and anything you want to commit to.
A few things that work for me:
- I theme my days: I have days for client work, days for calls, days for on-the-go house-related errands, and days for events and connecting in person.
- I also block out my time in quite large chunks. Personally, I like 2-3 hour time blocks. Some people do well with the Pomodoro method, or shorter chunks.
- I batch tasks and TRY not to context-switch as often as possible. This helps me stay in flow energy-wise and creativity-wise.
- I close down everything not related to what I’m working on and I set up my workspace in advance so I have what I need prior to jumping in.
Sidebar for my multipassionates: My friend, Lisa Zawrotny, recently shared in an episode of her Positively Living podcast that many multipassionates have a hard time staying interested in one task for an extended period of time. Lisa gives lots of practical advice and tips for time management and productivity, so make sure to check out her show HERE.
Once you choose time blocks that work for YOU, you’ll be well on your way to befriending your time and feeling far more productive because you literally just gave yourself a road map for how to spend it.
But here’s the key, we have to stick to it.
Keeping your promises to yourself is one of the most important pieces of making time your ally.
Once you’ve decided what’s important to you, follow through on making time for it, and actually doing it.
It’s easy to fill the time we should be spending on our own businesses with client work, or give away our self-care hour for a meeting, or let ourselves get distracted for an hour when we said we were going to fox on X.
The more you practice keeping promises to yourself when it comes to your time commitments and trusting yourself to follow through, the more confidence you’ll build. And the more you will come to love and appreciate your time.
Befriending time starts with befriending yourself, and holding yourself to what you set out to do.
“If you don’t choose how to use your time, others will choose for you.” – Mark Manson