Since I could clearly use some help in time management myself, I’m turning to Cristina Roman today to give us some advice! Find her full bio at the bottom of the post.
You may have seen the pin floating around Pinterest that says “You have the same number of hours in your day as Beyonce”. The original quote from H. Jackson Brown, Jr. reads, “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein,” but hey – Beyonce’s cool too!
The point is that we do all have the same 24 hours in our day and 168 hours in our week. When I give productivity seminars, I ask participants to raise their hand if they feel like they have enough time in the day. So far, two people total have raised their hands (and I’ve spoken to lots of individuals!). In this day and age, it’s pretty standard to feel that way (hello, busy trap!) but here are a few ways to take back your time so you can spend with friends, read awesome blogs like this one, learn a new language, or just lounge around in pajamas watching Friends if you want to.
Find out where you’re spending your time
I’d wager a bet that most of us can’t accurately pinpoint where all of our time goes. Before figuring out how to make the most of our time, we have to know how we’re currently spending it. If you’re old school, consider using Laura Vanderkam’s 168 Hours Spreadsheet to track your time for a week. If you spend your day on the computer and love digital tools, try RescueTime. It will ping you if you spend more than a certain amount of time on one activity, it tells you how much time you spend on different websites, and it can even block distracting websites.
Cut “I don’t have time” out of your vocab
Instead of saying “I don’t have time,” start saying (in your head!) “That’s not a priority.” If a friend you feel so-so about invites you to a movie and you say (again, to yourself), “Sorry, that’s not a priority,” do you feel okay about it? Probably, but I bet you’d feel less okay with telling your niece that you can’t come to her 6th birthday party because it’s not a priority, right?
Adhere to the “Do, dump, delegate, delay” principle
When faced with a task, only give yourself these four options. If it’s a quick email, social media update, or blog post, do it. If it’s just not something you feel you can follow through on, dump it and make peace with yourself. If someone else is involved, be sure you’re not throwing them for a loop by bailing out- trust me though, bailing out with no explanation or warning is much worse! If you can loop someone else in- a contractor, a colleague, an intern, or a friend- do it immediately. Make it your goal to not to be the bottleneck for any project for more than a day. If you honestly think this is a task you can (and want to!) perform, put it on a “To do later” Evernote or file it under a “To do later” Gmail label to look at at a later point (then set a calendar reminder for yourself- I also like to use Boomerang for this purpose). Again, be sure to communicate clearly if there’s another party involved in delaying this project or task.
Think about your time management reputation
I always remind seminar attendees that it’s not all about them when it comes to productivity, efficiency, and time management. Well, it is about them, but it’s about how others perceive them. That person who doesn’t get their piece for One Woman Shop to me on time? Or who bails on a coffee meeting twice in a row? It instantly decreases their time management reputation in my mind. You know what I surprisingly love? When someone tells me “I would help to join or contribute or attend but I just can’t right now.” It’s very refreshing in our world of overcommitters and underdeliverers. So, start saying no more often (Kristen Hadeed has some great scripts for how to say no without being a jerk).
Get over it
Harsh title, huh? Again, the fact of the matter is that we all feel like we’re constantly pressed for time- even those of us without families to support or multiple jobs! So, once you have systems in place to bring more sanity into your life, it’s time to let go and remember: you’re not alone and you’re probably not special when it comes to time management- but I’m sure you’re special in other ways :)
Looking for more time management strategies (I’ve got tons up my sleeve!)? Be sure to sign up for One Woman Shop, a resource hub and community for solopreneurs and freelancers and consider investing in my productivity email series!
// Cristina Roman is the founder of CMR Strategies, where she offers digital marketing consulting, career and business coaching, and productivity seminars. She also runs One Woman Shop, a resource site and community for female solopreneurs and freelancers. You can find her on Twitter (her favorite!) Facebook, or LinkedIn or join her (always super scintillating) email list here.