Updated: Jun 29
What do you do when you've got no time to organise your week?
Time management can be a waste of time in it's own right. You've got so much to do and so little free time, it seems difficult to set time aside to plan your day or week. However, if you can effectively plan ahead, you're more likely to get everything done and not overlook those small but important tasks that make your future life a little easier. Doing it right the first time, saves time in the long run.
A Quiet Coffee - "How to Plan Your Time"
We suggest using the "Quiet Coffee" method to plan your time. You're going to have a cup of coffee or tea anyway, so use that bit of time to make a plan. Just try not to do your time management with alcohol.
Make a cuppa and start planning your time. You can start with paper and pen, or you could start with a blank document on your computer or tablet.
Write down all the tasks you normally complete in one day. (Daily Tasks)
Write down any tasks you normally complete in one week. (weekly Tasks)
Write down all the tasks you do on a monthly basis, once a month. (Monthly Tasks).
Write down your resources. For example, you might have an assistant, a secretary, or a family member who might be able to do some of those things for you.
Write down how much down time you currently have each week. (The necessary de-stress time such has coffee at work).
Also write down how much random free time you might have at work, for example, when you find yourself playing Angry Birds on your phone in the middle of the afternoon.
Write down your total hours worked, total hours of necessary downtime, and total hours of unnecessary downtime.
Write down a goal for how many hours you'd like to save in your week; for example, spend 3 hours a week less at the office.
Make a separate dot point list of the tasks you do that could be done by someone on your Resource List. For example, what tasks could be done by your assistant or secretary instead of by you during your time at the office? What tasks could be done by a family member instead of you? Could your family member take the kids to soccer instead of you doing it. then know that you'll have 3 more hours at home later in the week because you've used soccer time to complete work at the office..
Finish your cuppa before it gets cold.
Step 8 - Arrange your Tasks
Create Task Groups: Arrange your tasks in to groups. For example, do all your Microsoft Excel tasks at the same time each day or week.
Systemise: If you have tasks that go one after the other, systemise your workflow. For example, if you regularly list real estate, then you might want to create a system that a) gets your paperwork completed, then b) gets your listing on RealEstate.com.au, then c) gets your listing out to brokers, d) gets your listing out to your client list, one after the other in an orderly manner, completing a three or five step process in one system.
Another example of systemisation is when I used to process customer applications. There were 9 different government forms that had to be filled in, but we only recorded about half of the information on the computer system. Then the forms would get scanned and emailed. Instead of looking through 9 different forms for the information I needed for the computer, I created a spreadsheet with columns for the info I needed, and then spent time going through all 27 customers, collating that data in to one spreadsheet. Then when I needed to enter it into the computer system, I could just import the whole spreadsheet into the database.
Step 9 - Implement your new routine
Implement your new routine into your daily workflow. Start using the task groups, delegation, or systemisation that you created in steps one to nine. Don't forget to include step seven.
Bonus Step - Quiet Time.
A great bonus step for you, is to create Quiet Time in your routine.
Quiet Time is when you turn off your office phone and mobile phone, and set time aside to get work done with no interruptions. A great suggestion for Quiet Time is to use your least-busy time of the week for Quiet Time, so you're not having to delay too many other things and catch up on them later - which is counter-productive.
For example, you might be an office worker who gets lots of phone calls all day and find it hard to complete certain tasks without interruptions. If you find you have a not very many phone calls first thing Monday morning or last thing on Thursdays, then that could become your Quiet Time. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb (or turn it off) and let the voicemail answer, or redirect it to a receptionist or answering service. Give yourself two hours, then turn your phones back on. Make sure to check your messages and return any missed calls.
Scheduling Quiet Time for the slowest parts of your week minimises the amount of missed calls, and gives your brain the ongoing security of knowing that on Monday mornings, you're going to have two hours of uninterrupted time to get on with those important tasks without being disturbed.
If you find yourself running out of jobs and you want to shorten your Quiet Time from three hours to two hours, then, how about looking back over your work diary and finding all those extra things that you do here and there, that you could pack in to your quiet time and get them all out of the way, one after the other.
Extra Bonus Tip.
It's ok to stop working. I give you permission. If anyone asks, you can tell them Xavier said it was okay.
It's ok to stop working. Let's say that you're a real estate agent, and you work all hours six days a week, morning to night, and Saturdays, and you still end up getting calls and emails on a Sunday because those unruly buyers want to look at a house at midnight on Sunday and you want to make a sale... don't do it! It's ok to stop working, I give you permission.
Most mobile voicemail systems have a feature where you can set up a scheduled greeting. For example, Monday to Friday between 9am and 7pm you can have your main greeting, and outside those times you have an alternate greeting, and it just switches over by itself at the time you set - so you don't have to remember to change it.
Your main greeting might be,
"Thank you for calling Jonathan at Creative Corporation. I'm with a customer and I value your call. Please leave me a message and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks for calling!"
Your alternative greeting for your off-hours might be:
"Hi, Thanks for calling Jonathan at Creative Corporation. I'd love to assist you directly, however the office is currently closed. Please leave a detailed message and contact number or email, and I will reply when the office is open. Thanks again for your call!"
This gives you a method of managing your out of hours calls that is still practical and professional, while explaining that you can't be available 24 hours a day, every day, 400 days a year. (Yes I know there's not really 400 days a year but wouldn't that be nice! You'd probably fill them with work as well!)
Don't be afraid that you might lose a client, lose a sale, or miss an opportunity. Most people understand that you can't possibly work 24/7. How many calls do you normally take at 3am anyway? Somehow people think it's still fine to call you at 8pm when your website says your office closes at 7pm, and you feel compelled to answer your phone anyway, so you don't miss a sale.
Working all hours until you drop to the floor exhausted is not a great solution. Find a way to manage your time, get help, cut back, work smarter, delegate, or just plain give up. It's not worth stressing yourself out over it.
When I worked in a corporate role, I worked 60 hours a week, plus being on call after hours, and two nights a week I was on call overnight in case the night team needed to escalate a customer request. Eventually you get burnt out and can't function at all. Even if you work nights and sleep in the daytime, you still need a consistent routine and have breakfast at 9pm and lunch at midnight. Don't watch Ellen at midday when you should be asleep.
Turn that phone off after hours, and tell them you got permission from me.
Make the most of your time!
Thank you for spending this time with me.
Until next time,