I don't know about you but I find I always have something to do. In between looking after the children, working from home, University, writing, blogging, and leading a team of copywriters, I have to plan my time carefully.
Now this post isn't about planning your time as such, although my first three points are about scheduling and planning your work/tasks, it is more about how to make your time count. You can allocate as much time to a task as you like but without make this focused and achieving something, you will find that your time allocation didn't mean anything.
Here are five ways of how I make best use of my time;
1# Making To-do Lists
Firstly, I make To-do lists. I make one for work, one for my University work, another one for my writing and blogging, and a final one for general tasks - like making appointments or ordering prescriptions. I generously estimate how much time I think it will take me to complete each task and come up with a total time at the end of each To-do list.
2# Allocating Time to Tasks
Once I have my To-do lists prepared, I total up the number of hours needed to work and I add them all together. I then ensure that each task has a deadline date - the latest date/time the task needs to be completed by.
3# Create a Schedule
I use my To-do lists to create a schedule. So say I have 9 hours of University work and then 15 hours of work due by Thursday, I would schedule in 5 hours of work each day and 3 hours of University work on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday - this is just an example.
4# Take Regular Breaks
Now I have discussed how I would create a To-do list, I would add breaks and rewards as much as possible throughout the day and allow time for lunch and dinner. Having a break can be motivational plus it gives you time to think. If you are stuck in a rut with your work, bring your break forward. Even if you just have five or ten minutes, it can really help. Don't just think that a break has to mean make a tea or coffee, have a stroll round the block, take the dog out, have a snack, pop to the shop. Whatever you need, make the best of your break!
5# Focus on One Task at a Time
I think my final point here would be to work on one task at a time. If you have several tasks, you can't do them all at the same time and drifting from one to another can be confusing. You focus better by doing one task at a time. Prioritise them and if the task is pressing, say 'when I complete this I will have a five minute break as a reward'. Believe me, I teach LEAN Organisation Management Techniques, and focusing on one task at a time means that there are less chance of mistakes so even though it sometimes takes a little longer, you don't always have to go back and check for accuracy as it's right first time.
**********************************************************************************As a little extra, I wanted to give you some pointers to keep you motivated!
If you don't meet your targets for the day, don't give up! My friend and I were talking just last night and I came up with a statement that is so true... 'There is nothing like a mid-week schedule shuffle!' as we talked about how we schedule our tasks, but often break our schedule. I think we are both often to hard on ourselves so don't forget to be realistic with your tasks and be generous with your time.
Don't be afraid to reshuffle your tasks! If you are in flow with your work, and can move tasks around then do it, arrange your time for what is effective for you. If you don't achieve some things, don't worry, there's always tomorrow and be positive - think about what you have achieved.. If you do achieve everything then be proud! We all have days when we are on fire, and then others that achieve nothing. This is common in writing, sometimes there is so much to say and other times you are blocked.
If you find yourself with far too much to do and you aren't being realistic with your timings and tasks, then review your To-do lists and move what you can to a later date. Just because you haven't achieved everything you want to in a week, doesn't mean you have failed. Again, don't be hard on yourself, we are all human and sometimes life gets in the way.
Be positive - if you achieve one good thing in a day and you know it is an important task or a high quality piece of work then you have achieved more than you had yesterday.
How do you make best use of your time? Do you have trouble focusing on a task if you have loads to do? What's important to you, quality or quantity? What keeps you motivated?
We all have deadlines to meet and it can be stressful when you don't, but
all you can do is your best, so don't ever feel bad about that!