Ever feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day? Well, we can’t help you add another 8 hours, but we CAN offer 7 tips from a time management author which will help you squeeze the most out of your time. Up next on Etsy Jam!
In this episode, Gordon and Richie chat about a time management article that they found online here. The article was on Business Insider and was written by Laura Vanderkam. Laura is known for her books on time management. This particular article covers seven tips that she personally uses for managing her time.
What we hear most often at Marmalead is that when you have an Etsy shop, website, brick and mortar store or whatever it may be, time management is a frequently sited restriction. There’s just not enough time. Not only do we hear it often, we feel it ourselves. Time limits can be overwhelming and we all know you can’t make more time. We can’t make a twenty-four hour day into a thirty-two hour day, but what we can do is manage the time we’ve been given as best as possible. So, with all of that being said, let’s jump right in!
Tip #1: Plan your week on Fridays
With this tip, Laura has two tactics combined into one. The first is that your life is lived in chunks. You can break this down into whatever time period you want, days, weeks, months or years. Laura is chunking time into weeks here. The idea is that it’s a cycle. You start whatever it might be, plan it, and live it. Then, rinse and repeat. This is one reason she plans her weeks on Fridays.
The other reason is that it’s the end of a week. She strategically does this so that after the week is finished, she can start planning the upcoming week. Laura feels like if she waits to start planning until Monday of the next week, she’ll be more reactionary to things that have happened over the weekend or emails that might have come in. This might cause her planning period to stretch out into the following day which is too long. If there’s already a plan in place she can hit the ground running.
Tip #2: Measure what matters
Laura tracks lots of stuff. This includes how many books she’s read in a year (twenty-seven to be exact for 2017). It’s important to really measure things that matter to you, because you’re less likely to fall behind in these if you can actually see your progress. If something’s important to you make sure you’re accountable for it. It all goes back to that whole principle of what you focus on expands. If you’re focusing on what matters most to you, it absolutely will expand and grow because that’s where your time and energy are going.
Tip #3: Figure out three anchor events for the weekend (or for your week)
The idea behind this isn’t to cram something into every single hour, but to plan your time around the anchored events you’ve chosen. This is a great tip to use for those of us who are slightly more laid back in our week planning. Instead of planning out your entire week day by day and hour by hour, you could choose several main anchor goals and then tentatively plan the rest of your time around those. This allows for more freedom to be spontaneous and to embrace unexpected events, while still keeping the important things solid. It’s also important not to bite off more than you can chew when planning ahead. Notice Laura didn’t say to figure out thirteen anchor events for a weekend! She’s keeping a reasonable and attainable goal for her schedule, which is important whether planning a weekend or your upcoming week.
Tip #4: Tackle the toughest work first
Since Laura is a writer, doing a first draft or deep editing over her work is done at the beginning of her day. She knows she can accomplish more with a cup of coffee between 8:40am-11:40am than she can around 1-4:00pm. This makes a lot of sense! Your mental tank of gas tends to be much higher in the morning, especially if you aren’t starting with reactionary stuff.
This principle does depend on when you as an individual are less distracted. For many people this will be in the evening or late at night (raises hand as I sit here writing this blog at midnight). Some people are early birds, some are night owls, the point is that you can absolutely tailor this to match your own preferences. The point, however, remains the same. Do your toughest work when you have the most energy for it.
Tip #5: Use bits of time well
For this tip, Laura points to those little time gaps throughout your day. You know, they’re the ones between appointments or meetings. It’s all about identifying those moments of unexpected downtime. In the past, Laura used this time to surf the web, check social media or read the news. All of these are pretty normal habits and are probably what most of us do with our little pockets of downtime. Now during her downtime Laura uses her Kindle to read. She may only read a page or less, but this is a productive and easy way for her to make use of her time.
While Richie and Gordon agree that this is a great idea (and probably why Laura has read so many books this year) Richie says that for him, when he fills every moment of his downtime with something, his brain doesn’t ever have a chance to just rest. When he’s all go, go, go, he’s found he has less long term brain power for the entire day. Instead, he says he focuses on quality over quantity so that he doesn’t end up compromising what really matters because he’s simply too tired.
Tip #6: Make very short to-do lists
This is a struggle for a lot of us! It’s SO easy to make a way longer to-do list than is humanly possible to accomplish. This all goes back to planning. And the planning all correlates with how you’re breaking down your time. How big are the things on your to-do list? How long term is your to-do list? Laura’s point behind a short to-do list is to never make it longer than ten items at a time. Gordon has heard that seven is a magic number to accomplish. Nevertheless, they both agree that much more than that, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
It’s important to stay realistic in your planning as well. If you accomplish everything on your list then wow! Look at you go you super hero! You can always add on a couple more things if you accomplish everything you set out to do. It won’t be fun to have completely unrealistic expectations and not accomplish what you want. It will only add to feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed. Pick a couple of the most important things and focus on those. Put your list away so you’re not side tracked by the other five things calling your name . Stay positive. Plan ahead. Stay humble. Stay realistic.
Tip # 7: Have a bed time
What?! Have a bed time?! That’s crazy! Didn’t that stop at age 12 or something?? Laura says she aims to be in bed around 10:30pm. Gordon said that’s usually when he is sitting down with a beer after getting the kids to bed;) I kinda concur with him, I (Jade) am normally sitting down to start tapping away at my keys right around that time! Laura, however, feels much better in the mornings when she’s had enough sleep. She also has younger kids that wake up early, so sleeping later isn’t an option for her.
Richie brings up a good point for those of us creating and brain storming. For him, once he’s in the zone he doesn’t want to stop( nor do I). I think a lot of creatives will relate to this, I know I do! If inspiration is coming, it’s coming. So, hours later when 4:00am roles around…..bye bye peppy early morning wake up! But, while the creative process may cause a lot of us to have some late nights, taking Laura’s advice is definitely not a bad idea. It’s ok to stay up here and there letting the creative juices flow. But, doing that day after day after day definitely wears on us physically and mentally. Sleep is important to a healthy brain, body and life. In everything, it is always important to strive for balance.
Moral of the story
These are all fantastic time management tips! However, they don’t have to be set in stone. Some of these (maybe all) will work great for some people exactly the way they are. For others, a little tweaking here and adjusting there may be necessary in order to get the most out of these suggestions. Remembering life is never set in stone and will ebb and flow is key. We can plan ahead and have fantastic goals, but when life throws us a curve ball, shouting “Plot twist!” and moving on without letting it knock us out is important! Try new things with your time management. See if they work for you. Don’t be discouraged if you have to change them completely to make them fit your life. Whatever makes you successful is what matters!
As always, a huge thank you to those of you reading this blog! Make sure you check out this week’s Jam…seriously….it’s informative, funny and totally random all at the same time, because, balance! Also, if any of you out there are interested in starring in one of our super fun and rambling Jams, feel free to reach out to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or email email@example.com. Happy selling and time managing, everyone!
Etsy Jam Scoops
- What it’s all about
- Tip # 1: Plan your week on Fridays
- Tip # 2: Measure what matters
- Tip # 3: Choose anchor points
- Tip #4: Do the toughest work first
- Tip # 5: Use bits of time well
- Tip # 6: Make short to-do lists
- Tip # 7: Have a bed time
- Moral of the story