Not enough time in your week? It can seem like that when you have a never-ending list of things to do and limited time. The very fact that time we have available is finite means that if we want to maximise productivity, we have to be smart with how we use it. The first step in the process is planning out your time. I’ve put together a few tips on how to make that planning more effective than just the dreaded to-do list.
“The most efficient way to live reasonably is every morning to make a plan of one’s day and every night to examine the results obtained.”
– Alexis Carrel
I was a list writer. In fact, I would write so many lists I needed lists to manage my lists! I thought that lists had their place in an organised landscape, but I was overdoing it. My disorganised organisation was letting things fall through the cracks and compounding my overwhelm. I was so worried I would forget something that it would appear on multiple lists, making my lists twice as long as they needed to be. I would write everything down before I went to bed but then in the morning, I would rewrite things to prioritise. The whole exercise just seemed futile.
I was missing the point of being organised by creating list chaos.
So because I have such a deep and meaningful relationship with google, that was where I turned to to try and get my head around just how to make my planning work.
Here is what I learned about how to plan my day for maximum productivity.
1. Write down your goals for the week
Just put it all out there on-page – just one page though, I’ll pick this apart later but this process is important. There is something very therapeutic about getting things out of your head, which was what I was trying to do with my lists.
For me writing things down is like giving the stress away and letting that piece of paper hold all my problems, then I can get down to the business of solutions.
Brainstorm everything you want to achieve. Why handwriting over digital lists? It’s really up to you, but there are numerous studies supporting handwriting due to its creativity, memory retention, and spelling benefits. Forbes reports that handwriting.
2. Arrange your goals according to priority
Sit down with your handwritten goal list and number them according to what needs to be completed sooner, and is more necessary. Prioritising your goals is so important. If you have set SMART goals they will have a timeline, therefore prioritising goals will ensure adherence to dates you have set as part of your goals. Then underneath each goal, list the actions needed to achieve the goal. These will also need to be prioritised. If you are anything like me you will have great satisfaction in not only crossing tasks off your list but seeing a movement towards goals gives you a true sense of productivity. Take a look at Fempire Founder and CEO Marnie LeFevre’s How To Guide for Setting SMART Goals.
I do this on paper first because I find that doing it on a computer lends itself to wandering onto social media or being tricked by pop-ups and ads for my next holiday or pair of shoes. These distractions were wasting my time and I needed to start valuing my time more.
3. What time do you need?
Go through each task, and estimate the time it will take to perform. Note that down next to the goals and then put the total time at the bottom of the page. On your calendar, once you’re filled in with appointments, block time for phone calls/emails, production time for your products, client bookings, meals, exercise, etc, you’ll have a clear idea of what’s left. Is there enough time in your day or your week for the goals you have set? What needs to change?
Sometimes this means deciding what is a bigger priority – your goals or something else.
The truth this exercise told me was that my time was mismanaged and wasted. When I reviewed my time in this way I realised how much was unproductive. I spent too long doing things that were of no benefit to me financially, or personally. Social media is a big time waster. I now have it in my schedule so I can still go in and look around, but there is a limit to how long I can spend doing this. Do you know what I have noticed about doing it this way? I am much more strategic about what I look at and who I interact with. My social media usage is much more purposeful now.
4. Delegate tasks that don’t need to be done by you
It’s more than likely that you’ve got more task-time than the real-time left. This is where we turn to the delegation. How many of your tasks should and can be done by others? By employees? Contractors? A Virtual Assistant? Technology tools and applications? If you have hired help, this is an important moment.
Let go of low-skill repetitive tasks so you can focus on the expert-level tasks that only you can do.
With the time you have left, in order of most important, enter in when you’ll complete each goal/task during the week.
5. You may realise by doing this that there is not enough time?
Not enough time for all your goals? Are some of the goals that didn’t fit deemed as necessary right now? Maybe if you’re willing to swap them out with another goal, it’s simply been an error of priority within the goals. If it seems impossible to fit it all in, then it’s time to review your goals. You are a superwoman, yes, but you cannot do the impossible.
Be realistic, what has to be done to get the business running/keep it running, and what can wait?
Better to achieve 3 goals a week, and attack more over time, than try to overwhelm yourself with 30 and not get any done.
I find that I am comforted by my calendar now. I know that I have created space in my week to do all the things I have decided are necessary. I am no longer searching for lists, more importantly, I am no longer finding lost lists and realising I didn’t do something. Maybe it is just me, but removing the overwhelm from my schedule and knowing that I am valuing my time and spending it wisely gives me a real sense of determination, of command over my future.
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” – Mother Teresa
The final tip I will give you to planning your day for maximum productivity is this. Make sure you schedule a lunch break every day AND make sure you have a free 30-60 minutes every day. Missing meals will severely drop your energy levels.
Do you often get to 3 pm and immediately hit a brick wall? All you want to do is have a nap? If so, did you have lunch? Did you get up and move? If you have been sitting all day at your desk and haven’t eaten, your productivity level will drop
You will actually get more done in the day by putting your work down, having something to eat, and going for a short walk.
Free time – when does that happen? It probably won’t but schedule it anyway. If you are anything like me raising children means that you will have something come up every day that messes with your schedule. By leaving a free time window in your day you allow yourself emergency catch up time so your work never suffers for your personal life, and personal dramas aren’t detrimental to work. This gives you the chance to stay on top of things and not fall behind.
It is time for you to take charge of your business. You run it, not the other way around.
If you feel like you are chasing your tail every day you need to plan your time and decide the priorities for yourself.
There is a place for technology in all this. In fact, using tools and apps to perform routine tasks has saved me literally hours every week. Once you have followed these steps to get organised, take a look at the tasks that could be systemised by technology.
Are you using tools and apps to automate some of your tasks? You may not know where to start with technology so download this free guide – Top Tools and Apps to Streamline Your Business and start getting your day planned and productive.
Share your ideas with me – on social media, by email, or book a 30-minute session with me and let’s turn your inspiration into action., book a free 30 minute session with me.