"How did it get so late so soon?" (Dr Seuss)
Ever feel like you never have enough time? There are two possible reasons. First you may have taken on too much. Second, your time is managed badly.
It could even be a combination of the two. i.e. If you managed your time better you might be able to do more work.
It's about having calendars and colourful apps marketed with essential time management techniques. I think it is usually quite simple to manage your time better and achieve the things you want to.
I have a young family; my kids are 6 and 8 so they can be a bit of a handful at times to say the least! I run my own business, taking up considerable amount of time. when I’m not being a dad or accountant, last year I started a law degree with the Open University. People are often amazed that I can do all of that. And no I don't need to have the ability to manipulate time and space. I just need to be sensible and plan what I’m doing.
To that end I have listed my top tips below to help those who want to get on top of their workload and achieve more. I also don’t mention a single App or colour scheme. As part of your planning you might find they help but having the tools doesn’t make you a carpenter!
1. Say No
Often overlooked, and the temptation to do lots of things and keep everyone happy is easy. Sometimes though, just say no to that extra drink, say no to that job you don't really want to take on. If you already have a busy schedule, don't keep booking things in until you have sorted out the things you've already got! This leads me on to.....
2. Priority Priority Priority
What order do you need to achieve things in? If you get 1 job done first will that make the next one easier? Or have you been playing Xbox instead of working (GUILTY!) and now you’re up against a deadline?
Take the time to prioritise, what is it you want to achieve? (see below for goal setting). Do you want a cleaner house? Well it might not be a case that if you do the housework first it will be cleaner. It might be, do this work first then you'll have more time to do the housework.
3. Set goals
Set out what you are going to achieve today, this week this year. If you have ever been a manager you probably will have been taught “SMART Goals” (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound).
Personally, I find a simple way of doing that is asking these questions:
What do I want to achieve this year/week/today?
How am I going to do that?
When do I need to do that by?
For example, my main goal this year is to complete the next module on my degree, I’m going to do that by studying in the evenings and weekends, I need to do this by next May or I will have failed.
Or today's goal, publish this blog post so I can play HeroQuest with my kids. I'm going to do this by getting up an hour earlier than normal, closing myself in the study and write this like a b**** so that I will be done by 12 to play the game after lunch.
You don’t need an essay or a 150-page white paper to set it out but you do at least need to know what you want to do, and how to do it. Even if it changes halfway through.
Work smart not hard.
Think about your workload, what is the most efficient way of doing things? I have a plan in my head on how I’m going to go about the day. For example, before I start work, I put a load of laundry on, then when that has finished its usually time for a tea break. I make a cup of tea, while the kettle is boiling, I hang the washing out.
Scale this plan up as well, it works for the week, month or year.
I know this one is easier said than done! However…
Stick to your goals, provided they are “SMART” you should be able to achieve them, even if life throws hurdles at you!
All in all, if you want to achieve something you need to work at it and plan for it. Things rarely just fall into your lap.
Once someone said to my wife, "wow you seem to get really lucky with your jobs". My wife's reply "It’s not luck, I worked really hard for this". And it's true, she had set out a goal for that year, planned how to get it, prioritised work/life to achieve that and said no to things that would get in the way of that goal and finally she was disciplined to stick at it.
This doesn’t mean that if you set a goal and work at it, the miracle job happens, but you stand a damn sight better chance of getting it than sitting on your arse hoping for it to happen.