There are about as many different ways to manage your time as there are stars in the sky but some simple ones I find particularly useful in helping me tackle my to do list are:
This is the practice of setting a timer for a specific period of time and getting to work. Often it’s 25 minutes, but for me, because I use this technique most when I have a serious amount of work to get done in a short space of time, I like to set either 10 or 15 minute timers. This keeps me on track much better. It’s amazing how fast you can be distracted and lose a whole 10 minutes, or more, and it only becomes really apparent when that timer *bings* at you and realisation hits that none of the tasks I allocated to that 10 minute block have been done. That adds fuel to my fire to smash the next time chunk out of the park.
I love accountability and I think it can be hugely powerful in helping get stuff done. It can also add extra pressure that is unnecessary and simply increases stress though, so I would add a little caveat to this to be to find someone who is going to give you accountability and yet also support when you need it too. One without the other I’m not convinced is hugely helpful.
I have my own accountability buddy, which started off 2 years or so ago as a weekly 15-30 minute call, because we were in a similar/complimentary area of work, we knew we got on (though we didn’t know each other very well then) and we were looking for some support in getting things done and keeping us focused. Now we speak nearly every day and we have regular ‘get stuff done’ days or even just an hour caught here and there. We’ll be on WhatsApp and say “Crikey, I need to get a lot of work done in the next hour, do you fancy some accountability?” The other will usually say yes and then we check in regularly and set a list of tasks we want to complete in this set period of time. It’s brilliant.
If you’ve not already got someone to do this with I highly recommend actively seeking one out (if you don’t ask you don’t get – by all means ask in the Facebook group and you may find just the person). We do have a weekly goal setting and check-in posts in the Facebook group too which you can join in on any time you like 🙂
The above two things also tie in nicely with scheduling in time in your diary to do ‘deep’ work. The definition of this in Cal Newport’s book is:
Deep Work: Cognitively-demanding, requires focus without distraction, and you apply hard-to-replicate skill sets.
Shallow Work: More logistical/basic tasks that don’t require tremendous amounts of attention or skill.
In a nutshell, deep work is what will really benefit you in your life and career. What 1 or 2 activities are going to impact your life and/or business the most positively?
I’ve been thinking about this for the last couple of weeks and I believe that my best work is in creation. That means designing stuff (think diary planners, worksheets, other graphics etc) and writing (blogs, ebooks, workshops etc). When I do these things I grow personally, I really enjoy it, it’s ‘deep’ work because it’s cognitively demanding and it’s taken me 15 years to get to a space where I can really take advantage of all the skills I have in my toolkit now.
The key is to schedule this work in, map out in details what it will include and then switch off all other distractions (apart from perhaps that timer to keep you on track) and get to work.
I find it hugely satisfying, time well spent whenever I do this.
You may think these three things are pretty straight-forward and obvious, but it’s surprising how often we know this stuff and don’t action it.
Your fun little challenge this week is to:
- Schedule in at least one deep work session (min 1 hour)
- Try out Pomodoro
Then feedback how you got on 🙂
Wishing you a productive week ahead.