Did you know the average person checks their phone about 150 times every day? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we spend on average 5 hours a day on leisure activities including social media.
We waste time on our phones, on social media, and on the internet. I had a bad habit of repeatedly picking up my phone to mindlessly scroll through Facebook – I deleted the app, but then ended up doing the exact same thing with Instagram!
It’s not just social media that takes up time unnecessarily – time management is a problem pretty much everyone struggles with.
Which of these sound familiar?
- You spend your days doing random tasks because you haven’t set your big 3 goals for the day.
- Procrastination causes you to be rushed to finish projects (lifelong procrastinator here!)
- Saying “Yes” when you are already overwhelmed and allowing others to take up your time.
- Distractions around you, affecting your focused concentration time (this is especially difficult if you work from home).
- Picking up your phone to check a notification, and next thing you know, you’ve been mindlessly scrolling Facebook for 30 minutes.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Yet why is it that some people get so much more done than others?
In this post I’m going to help you learn how to get control over your time. You’ll discover how to determine how much time you really have, where you’re wasting time, and how you can optimise your time to get more done!
How much time do you have available?
You will never “find” time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.
Let me ask you, how much time do you spend doing work that brings you an income, and how much is spent on tasks that make you no money – such as tweaking your website or scrolling on Facebook or Pinterest?
Don’t know the answer? It’s time to start tracking your time to see what you’re doing.
Of course, you only have 24 hours a day, with a certain number for sleeping, eating, work, and leisure. The trick is to determine how much time you are spending on everything and then finding ways to streamline or change the way you work.
One way to determine how much time you have is to use a free tracking tool. I prefer Clockify, but Toggl is also quite popular. You use it to track the various tasks you work on during the day. You can assign tasks to different “projects” so you can easily see where your time is going.
Include the amount of time you spend doing something. For example, let’s say you are working away on a project then get distracted by Facebook. Write down the time you switched to Facebook and the time you returned to your project. You might be surprised that instead of just a few minutes to answer a post, you actually spent 30 minutes or more on Facebook.
If you prefer putting pen to paper, then another option is to write down everything you do in a day for a week in a notebook.
Determining where you are spending your time and how much of that time is wasted is the first step in taking control of managing your time.
Optimising Your Time
Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.
Now that you know where you are spending your time, the next step is to optimise your time so you can be more productive.
It’s not difficult. Making a few simple changes to how you are doing things now can add that time you thought was lost.
How to Optimise Your Time
Let’s start with your goals or any projects you are currently working on.
Everything you need to do to meet your goals, whether for your business, your health or some other aspect of your life, needs to have an action plan. You should know the date you want to have it completed.
Use a calendar or project management software like Trello or ClickUp to divide the project up into chunks. I am a huge fan of using project management tools to keep me on track, both for personal projects as well as business projects. I use Trello for personal use, because it is quite simple and straightforward (and ok, yes, it is easy to make it pretty!), and then for my business and for clients I use ClickUp which is far more powerful. If you have a team, you can assign tasks to others on the project and keep track of their progress through project management software.
Make sure each project has a detailed list of steps to take in order to reach the deadline. Break down big projects into mini or micro tasks to keep from being overwhelmed.
Outsourcing work that is a drain on your time is another excellent way to optimise your time. You’re freeing yourself up for other tasks, but your work is getting done. This works not only in your business, but in your personal life as well. Hire someone to mow the lawn, run errands, or clean your house.
Getting outside help to clean my apartment is one of my favourite expenses! While I love to organise and tidy – it’s one of my favourite ways to relax – I do not enjoy cleaning.
A whole team comes in, and they are done in under two hours. In between, I just do light housework to maintain it.
When it comes to outsourcing for your business, there are so many tasks you can outsource. In fact, I have a whole post about it here. You can outsource the graphics creation and the formatting of your coaching products, posting to social media, or even your monthly bookkeeping. This frees up your time for work only you can do – coaching clients, content creation, marketing, and networking.
An important part of optimising your time is to create a distraction-free environment.
Clear distractions by closing any web browser tabs not necessary to the task you are doing. Close your inbox and log out of social media accounts. Silence notifications on your phone as well. Use an app like StayFocusd. This extension for Google Chrome restricts the amount of time you spend on time-wasting websites. The sites are blocked for a day after a certain amount of time has been used up.
Forget multitasking. Many people think they are good at multitasking but really, it diverts your focus into different directions. You get distracted and forget what you were doing on one project. It takes longer to get back into the flow of each project.
Instead, set up specific times to do each task. For example, check email only at 10am and again at 2pm, check your social media notifications and DM’s after lunch when your focus is low (I’m a big fan of batching your work according to your energy levels), and doing deep work projects for when your focus and energy is at its best.
Improving Your Schedule
You can improve your schedule and increase your productivity in many ways. I’m going to cover your workspace, your to-do list, and – one of my favourite topics – your systems.
Optimise your space.
Set up your space so work flows efficiently. This is especially important when you’re working from home. Keep your desk organised and set up so you can easily access areas you use the most. This applies to your personal space, too. If you workout at home, set up your workout area in a way that works easily for your routine.
Organise your cabinets and refrigerator to find healthy foods for recipes and snacks quickly. Remove clutter and unnecessary items. Having a clear, uncluttered area, in which to work and live, enables you to find what you need, when you need it.
Optimise your to-do list.
Take time to write out your to-do list for each day. A good plan is to do this the night before, when you quit working for the day. That way you know what you need to get done at a glance. Get strategic on how you use and create your lists. Keep your to-do list simple. List the most important 3 to 5 things to do that day.
Having a list of 15 or more tasks can be overwhelming, making procrastination more tempting. Break bigger projects into small, actionable steps that you can track and incorporate into your day.
Use systems to organise your tasks and time.
Time blocking, the Pomodoro Technique, and batching are different types of productivity systems designed to keep you focused on one task at a time.
The Pomodoro technique works by helping you ignore distractions. You get focused on your tasks by working in short bursts, with short breaks in between. The Pomodoro technique traditionally uses a system of 25 minutes of focus, and a 5 minute break. How it works is that you use a timer and set it for 25 minutes. Focus exclusively on your task. Don’t switch between tasks, take a break, check social media, or look at your inbox.
Once the timer goes off, take a break, ideally a quick 5 minutes. Once your break is done, set the timer for another 25 minutes and continue working. Continue with this system for as long as you need in order to finish your tasks for the day.
I tried the 25/5 structure but found it too short – I would just be getting into a groove and the timer would go out – I was getting more frustrated than anything else. I find that 50/10 is my sweet spot. Fifty minutes of deep focus, and then a short 10 minute break to stretch my legs and make coffee.
Focus Keeper is a free app that you can find on the iStore, that I love using. (I actually ended up getting the premium version, which is super cheap, so I can adjust the time.)
Time blocking is a type of scheduling tool that helps you manage your time better. You work in big or small tasks in a set amount of time. You block out chunks of time for things that you have to get done each day. It works well for both small tasks and big projects.
For example, if your project is to launch a new coaching program, instead of trying to do it all at once, you block out chunks of time for each part, for example one morning just for outlining, one week to write the content, one day to film all the videos (get the most out of doing your hair and makeup!)
Time batching is when you batch similar tasks into one time block. Maybe you handle coaching calls on Tuesdays and Thursdays, do content creation on Monday mornings and Wednesday afternoons you work on client projects.
Implementing simple changes, using apps and organising yourself can all have a big effect on how much time you have to use. The more you can optimise your time, the more productive you will be.
Getting Started with Time Management
Determining where you spend your time and how you might be wasting it is a very important step in gaining control over how you spend your time. Using apps such as Clockify will help you see where that time is going.
Another way to manage your time better is to have help on tasks you don’t enjoy or can’t do well. Outsourcing work frees up your time so you can put it to use on tasks you are better at. Hire a virtual assistant to handle customer service issues. Hire a landscaper to take care of your lawn. Delegate housekeeping duties, graphic design needs, marketing, or anything else that be adequately done by someone else.
Use technology to help you be more efficient as well. Use apps for project management, to store lists and ideas, to manage time and keep you from wasting time.
Turn off notifications on your phone and computer when you’re working on specific tasks.
Knowing what you need to accomplish each day keeps you focused.