Best Practices for Effective Time Management
Here’s the harsh reality: you need to fight for your time, you need best practices for effective time management. People will always think their time is more valuable than yours if you don’t correctly outline your waking hours.
Time is something really important when you are taking on multiple projects at a time. And the lack thereof will leave you feeling inadequate and unproductive.
Making sure that your days are outlined with target tasks is what ensures that you are in control of how your days pan out. Nothing is worse than having a frantic client reach out 5 minutes before you are about to sign off for the day with an hour worth of questions. With that being said,
Here are some of my tips to ensure you have an Effective Time Management routine:
1. Set expectations upfront.
One of the best practices of time management. When you work with clients, you’re essentially playing tug-o-war with others at all times.
And when my clients come to me saying that they feel overworked and have a lack of time for their passion projects, I ask them if they’ve set any boundaries with their clients in writing. If you want people to respect your time, you need to be clear about when you are available and when you won’t be.
Your job should not be 24/7 — you need time to yourself and family.
This is not really relevant for people with day jobs (myself included). New blog coming soon about time management around your 9-to-5.
2. Set an ideal schedule to fit with your strengths.
In a perfect world, would your work day end at 3 PM? Or even 12 PM? Maybe you know you are your most creative in the AM. Or in the deep hours of the night when everyone is sleeping.
Maybe you want to spend Sundays unplugged from your computer without a worry. Whatever it is, write it down so we have a place to start strategizing.
3. Start to set systems to work with your ideals.
This is an effective way of time management. If your job is meeting-heavy but you want to only take meetings in the afternoons, then set your schedule to only allow PM meetings.
Do you need to hold consultations for potential clients and you know you are most eloquent pre-lunch slump, then only set your schedule to allow them in the mornings.
If you know you burn out if you do too many in one day, then only allow that number in a day. No one knows you as well as you know yourself. Acknowledge your limits so you avoid burn out. And the easiest way to go about it is to make your systems work in your favor.
4. Have buffers.
On paper it makes so much sense to take 4 meetings back-to-back-to-back-to-back, but we all know in practice we just want to take a nap afterward.
Allow yourself small breaks to ensure that you can recharge before jumping back in.
5. Allow time for deep work.
Death by meeting is very possible, and I’m glad that we’re shifting toward a more concise age of information where tools like email can be used to summarize these hours of back and forth.
Set time for yourself to be able to do uninterrupted work.
For me, that is every morning between 7 AM and 9 AM. Although it is merely 2 hours, I find that I am infinitely more productive when I set that distraction-free time frame for myself to do creative work (such as writing this blog!).
6. Commit to it.
After you do all the prep work, you want to make sure that you actually do it. And the first few times will be the most difficult — if a client really wants to do something and gives you the “it’s just this one time,” you’ll feel obligated to oblige.
But if you want your schedule to manifest, you need to be very direct about committing to your new routine, and not straying outside of it within your control.