WORDS FROM THE CEO: MY 5 FAVORITE TIPS FOR TIME MANAGEMENT
As a professional, a marketer, an entrepreneur, a team leader, and a mother, it often feels impossible to keep my work life in order. And I know I’m not alone in the quest for effective time management.
To anyone who has ever felt like their virtual list keeps getting longer, or that the tasks of owning a business, running a team, or managing a client book keep getting more daunting, I’m here for you, and I totally get it!
That’s why, as part of our ongoing mission at LTC to bring the marketing and business world valuable and relevant content, we’re launching into 2017 with a new take on business advice directly from yours truly–CEO and founder of LTC, Lis Thomas.
The truth is, staying organized and ahead of schedule at work is a challenge for most of us. If you are reading this blog and wondering, “What is she talking about? I’m always organized and ahead,” I will bow down to you and send you a huge bottle of wine. The more likely scenario is that you are nodding along in recognition of the endless state of being I like to call “dishes in the sink syndrome,” otherwise known as organizational malfunction. It happens to all of us. Don’t feel bad.
So, with the new year in full swing, I’d like to share my 5 most effective, efficient, and low-maintenance tips for keeping the proverbial dishes out of the work-sink.
1. DON’T WAIT
As a young professional, I at one point read the book “4-Hour Work Week.” I know I’m not alone in this, but you’d be surprised how many people either haven’t read this organizational gem by Tim Ferris, or think it’s an impossible schedule to make work with, well, work. While I didn’t walk away committing to only working four hours a week, I did gain some tools that have helped me immensely in business for many years now. This is one that I stand by with all of my being: Don’t wait.
- If you can answer an email right then, do it. Waiting for a ‘better time’ is only going to keep that task on your virtual list, taking up brain space longer.
- If you can review a document, set a meeting, or have that difficult conversation now, do it! It’s like magic. Once you do, it’s done and you can move on.
In practice, I use this policy most with email. Any email I can answer immediately, I do. Or, at least I write it and send it later. The trick is not being beholden to your email, but we’ll get there in a minute.
2. PLAN BACKWARDS
They say anything that can happen will happen. I’m sure you’ve encountered this at one point or another when managing a project timeline, task, or business meeting. Most of us plan for the best case scenario, so we plan forward – not backward. But, if you reverse that process and plan from the end result or timeframe you need to meet, you’ll find it easier to stay on track, foresee possible pitfalls, and avoid running over schedule.
A recent blog from MindTools states that planning backward is about “adopting a different perspective and, perhaps, identifying different milestones as a result.” It works, people!
3. LIST DAILY
This is such old advice, it’s akin to the idea of stretching after a workout. But this oldie is a goodie. If I don’t write a daily list at the beginning of my day, I am lost completely, floundering around like a baby in a bathtub. Ok, a little dramatic, but basically true. Writing a daily task list will SAVE YOU TONS OF TIME. Just do it. Stop procrastinating.
A word of advice on this front: Try to keep your list between 3 – 5 items long. It sounds hard, but as Tim Ferris would say, “at any given time there are likely only 3 items you MUST get done.” I’m paraphrasing here, so forgive me, Tim.
4. AVOID MULTITASKING
Again, it’s becoming common knowledge that multitasking is evil and should be avoided. I have discovered this to be very true. How many times have you found yourself stuck in the email void all day? Answering messages and never accomplishing a single task? Don’t let the multitasking demons get you!
Instead, focus on one task at a time and get it done–or at least to a stopping point you feel comfortable with. What you’ll notice is that you’re actually accomplishing stuff. Take that, multitasking lovers! Read more here if you don’t believe me.
5. KNOW WHEN TO QUIT
There is a time in every workday when I just know I’m done. It doesn’t matter if a proposal “just needs to be reviewed now,” or a document needs editing. I hit the wall and cannot do it. What I’ve learned over time and after many nights of stressing out for no good purpose but to keep me awake is that the work is always there waiting for me in the morning.
For most of us, if we leave a task until we can look at it with fresh eyes on a new day, no one is going to die and we’re not going to get fired. If you’re one of the few who does operate in a world of life or death, message me–I want to know who you are and what you do. But for the rest of us, my parting advice is to know when to quit.
You’ll provide more value to your work and generally just be more fun to be around if you’re not a ‘work zombie’. More good stuff from Life Hacker here.
On that note; I’ve left you with these words of advice. Do with them what you will. Just a few tips from a serial entrepreneur. 🙂