I’ve been asked by several different people to please share some tips about time management, so I finally decided to put some of my top tips to paper and publish them today. Here are some powerful ways to reduce stress, overwhelm and clutter in your life:
Step 1: Monday Power Hour
Schedule an hour with yourself every Monday (or Sunday if it works better for you) to plan your week. This is critical to getting everything out of your head, on to paper and keeping your priorities straight. This the MOST IMPORTANT hour and should be guarded and protected. If you skip planning your week, you will spend all your time in reactive mode.
Step 2: Brain Dump
Grab a blank sheet of paper and dump everything out of your mind that is floating around. Everything from important follow up calls, pressure washing the house, designing that presentation. All the things. Personal, family, work…all of it. Get it out of your head and on to paper.
I like to draw a quadrant and drop the tasks into the different components of my life to make time blocking easier. (Personal, Business Growth, Business Maintenance, and Community/Volunteer work are my four quadrants)
Step 3: Revisit Your Goals
Get out your goals. I encourage writing your goals annually and then breaking them down into quarterly habit changes you’re focused on. Revisit where you are on your annual and quarterly goals to see what needs to be done that week to keep the needle moving forward in the areas most important to you.
This step is so vitally important because if we do not have a structured method for reviewing our goals regularly, then they can easily fall by the waste side and be forgotten. Three months can pass by, and we look up and realize we have made no progress on that thing we said was most important to us in January.
Step 4: Block the Top Priorities
Get out your calendar. Block off the time for your top priorities first. Your rest, health, family time and pleasures should not take take a backseat to your to-do list. The to do list will always be growing and never be complete, so it’s important we don’t let it hold us back from creating the life we want to be living.
Step 5: Weekly Top 3
Once we block out our top priorities, it’s then time to go back to that brain dump of tasks. Pick a top 3 items. Which 3 items are the MOST IMPORTANT to get done this week. If nothing else happens this week to advance your goals, these THREE THINGS must be completed.
Look at your calendar and block off the day and time you are going to do these most important tasks. I try to put these into my Monday and Tuesday windows so that if an interruption or pivot comes, I have time to compensate later in the week.
Step 6: Schedule the Tasks
With your calendar still in front of you, look at the remaining tasks. Estimate how much time each of them will take you and then schedule an appointment with yourself in your calendar for when you will complete these tasks.
If you are like me, then you will discover that there probably isn’t enough time this week to get everything done on the list. Ask yourself, are there things that someone else can do? Can you ask for help or delegate anything? If not, acknowledge that you’re human and you need rest and pleasure so you cannot be productive 24/7.
You then have the option of rolling into the next week or two and scheduling the tasks for the future, or crossing them off the list and simply deciding they will not be done.
Step 7: Throw Away the To-Do List
Throw away the brain dump of tasks.
WHAT!?!?!? Yes. I’m serious.
Let your calendar be your guide. It will help you be efficient with your time, not drag things out longer than they need to be, and also recognize just how long something takes to get done. Over time, this habit will help you have a more realistic perspective of which things you can say yes and no to.
Step 8: Daily Top 3
Revisit your planner every single morning. My personal habit I have developed is to sit down with my planner, write my affirmations, write my top 3 goals I’m focusing on, and then pick a Top 3 for that day.
So I have a top three for the week, and a top 3 for the day. One of the items may be as simple as a phone call to schedule a doctor appointment or an email to a client that needs to get sent. However, I know that the day can very easily slip away, and I need to make sure I keep my eye on the top 3 tasks of each day.
If you can create the habit of weekly brain dumping and turning all of your tasks into appointments on your calendar, you will be much more efficient with your time and be able to enjoy rest and relaxation in your life.
Sophia Hyde is a certified coach who specializes in helping busy people release their favorite selves. She teaches a 10-week course that accompanies 20-minute coaching sessions to lead people through the process of defining what that looks like in their own lives. If you would like to schedule a complimentary strategy session to see if coaching is right for you, click here.