Often I am asked how I manage my time so effectively with four children and a business or two, and the answer is so easy, it surprises most people: time chunking.
You know how it is…..
You get up in the morning and spend the time running around trying to get everyone dressed, empty the dishwasher, get breakfast ready, locate the missing shoes, track down the missing school bags, tidy up last night’s blankets and cushions, make the beds and do the laundry. And that is all while trying to get yourself showered and dressed, get your make up on and squeeze in a cup of coffee along the way.
By the time you have deposited the kids at school or nursery (or both) and squeezed in a few more little things that need done, you’ve barely had time to sit at your desk and plan your day. Then when you get there you’re distracted by the emails that have come in over night, and excited by your new Facebook likes or Twitter followers that have joined your tribe as well as the having a quick check on what your friends are up to in the newsfeed. When you do finally buckle down to do some serious work, you are confronted by all the things that need done and go into overwhelm. Where do you start?
So you start to do some invoicing, then get distracted when you remember that you need to update your client contact details in your accounting software. Then you remember that someone still owes you money so you digress a little to chase up an invoice. Then the phone rings and it’s your girlfriend wanting a “quick” chat and half an hour later you hang up the phone. Panicked that it’s now midday and you still haven’t really achieved much, you dash to the kitchen to make a quick cup of coffee so you can really knuckle down to work, and by the time you get back to your desk, your breathing is slightly shallow and you stare at your computer wondering which job to tackle first. Then your tummy grumbles and you remember that it’s nearly lunchtime and you still haven’t had breakfast.
You know in the back of your mind somewhere that you really should make a “To Do” list, but frankly at this point you don’t want to waste the time. You’re already behind for Pete’s sake and there REALLY IS JUST NO TIME TO MAKE A LIST NEVER MIND ACCOMPLISH EVERYTHING THAT YOU NEED TO GET DONE. ARRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!
Does any of this sound familiar? It’s a little bit like how my days used to go before I grabbed hold of myself and took control. One of the most effective strategies I learned to manage my time was time chunking. It is effectively taking your whole week and blocking out time when you will do everything. Mine even includes times for making dinner, doing laundry and family time, as well as writing and working. I designate one morning per week to have meetings and use any time left over to run errands. Everything gets done and life runs smoothly.
Here is a screen shot of my iCalendar week:
Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed. Try time chunking your week for maximum output.
Question: What are your favourite strategies for managing your time? Would love to read your comments below.