When it comes to time management, I have been on the struggle city bus recently.
I don’t know if it’s the warmer weather, the fact that Matt has been out of town, or that I’ve started taking on more upper level overarching tasks at work but I have just had the HARDEST time getting my *ish done recently. ya feel me?
Example #1 from the past few weeks:
Launch this new website – hmmmm hold up – this is a HUGE task and not one that I probably managed as well as I could have. There was a lot going on, multiple people involved, and a lot of behind the scenes work. In my marketing role, I find so many times that I’ll spend hours brainstorming or researching a single concept or idea. Sometimes I go home at the end of the day and am like “hmmmm WTF did I just do for 8 hours today?” It’s hard to dedicate the time needed to those projects when I know they’ll take a long time and I find it hard to quantify my progress.
I’m definitely a task-oriented person who likes a good old-fashioned to-do list. (PS – I’ve been known to add already completed tasks to my list just for the satisfaction of crossing them off… don’t tell… it still counts… I think) so I like answering emails, responding to customer reviews or questions, scheduling social content. All these things take xx amount of time and I can walk away knowing the task is completed.
After reading and researching some time management tools, I made the commitment. Something had to give. I had to find a way to push myself personally and find a system that would work. I needed accountability. I needed results. I needed fast.
I’ve found two tools super useful for helping me get my groove back. The first one takes my competitive tendencies and let’s me compete … against myself.
Meet The Miracle Cube!
Fitted with 5, 15, 30 and 50 minute timers, I selected the white version and with two AAA batteries was on my way to completing projects quickly and efficiently.
I simply keep the timer on my desk (although, I have thrown in it my bag to take home occasionally – I might end up ordering a second) and when I identify a task, I set my intention, toss the cube over to the selected time range, and get to work. There’s a display that shows the exact time left before the alarm goes off, if you’re into that sort of thing, but I find I get more done not constantly checking the clock. I don’t know why this works so much better than looking at my phone and assigning myself a time to complete a task but it does. I’m telling you – the combination of the mental choice in picking a task & dedicating time and the physical task of turning over the clock cue my goal setting, task completing chemicals and I’m all of a sudden firing at all cylinders.
They also offer a blue version in 1, 3, 5 and 7-minute intervals (I know some meetings that could benefit from this cube!); a green cube that displays 1, 5, 10, and 15 minutes; a purple cube with 5, 10, 20 and 30 minute displays; and a yellow cube with 5, 10, 20, and 45 minute options.
My second time management tool was streamlining all the lists and tasks I had floating all over my workspace, in my email, and in my head.
I created these simple easy to use daily planner templates (you can download for FREE here) and each Monday morning when I get into the office I spend some time mapping out my day and my week. I try to time block as much of my day as possible, before adding larger tasks in my “Major Goals” section and smaller tasks in the “To Do List”.
I use the space at the bottom to jot down some non work related metrics like meals, water intake, and exercise plans so I have my whole day in one place.
I keep the week ahead all accessible on a clipboard that I carry around each day and use these guides to map out both my work tasks and my personal life, because let’s face it, I sometimes need all the help I can get.
Before I leave the office in the evening, I take any uncompleted tasks and fill them in at the appropriate time on the next day’s planning sheet. This way when I sit down at my desk, I already know what I’m supposed to be working on and can immediately get in my zone.
I also like to staple the week together once I’m done and look back at any patterns. I found a task at work that I frequently give myself an hour for each Wednesday always seems to carry over to Thursday before it really gets pushed back to Friday and then when I actually complete it, it takes twice as long. After looking back at a few weeks, I’ve now moved that task. It doesn’t make sense to try to fit it in between meetings. I’ll just get to it every Friday when I have time to really focus and complete the right way, the first time around.
Using my time more wisely means I’m getting more done and not wasting time moving around projects or working late after meetings. The hour or so that I spend planning on Monday mornings more than enough makes up for itself later in the week.
I’m going to do an updated blog post later with my actual weekly guides for you all but I figured sharing the templates now would be a great start. I’d love to see how you use them! Leave me a comment and let me know what time saving tricks or time management tools you swear by!