For years my personal time management sucked. I couldn’t remember appointments, struggled with daily tasks and felt overwhelmed. I procrastinated, I just accepted the negative consequences and lived in a constant state of feeling guilty. Then I became self employed first time round and there was no-one else to pick up the pieces. I had to do everything. My work day suddenly started at 9:00 and finished at 00:00. I was constantly stresses, everything felt like work and I was even more overwhelmed than before. After five years and one too many head injuries (I get clumsy when I am exhausted) I finally had a breakdown. The business had to close and I needed to take a step back.
Today I am considered a time management expert, I still find that strange. However a huge part of my job is guiding people in how to get the most out of their 24 hours in a way that means they get stuff done and have a balanced, fun life. Learning from my mistakes I have created a simple system of time management that works for me and my clients. It is simple it is fast and it feels good.
So this is how I turned one of the most disorganised stressed out people I knew, myself, into a person who has got their stuff together, gets the most out of their day and even though busy always has time to do what they want to do. This is how I organise my life.
Step 1: Yearly Goal setting
Knowing what I want in life and how I want to grow makes life so much easier. I set goals at the beginning of each year. 8 personal and work goals. I keep it at 8 so that it is manageable and achievable. Now I do this in January for business and in February for personal goals but you can start right now. Once I have made my goals SMART I create action steps, baby progress steps, for each of the goals I want to achieve. So a goal of I want to take care of my physical health becomes – I want to do 10 mins yoga everyday, I want to eat 50% less Junk food by Christmas etc.
I highly recommend investing some alone time into this process, with a glas or a cup of something you like and good music on in the background this can be an inspiring process.
Step 2: Monthly Goals
I group the important areas of my life into 4 sections. Work, Me, Life, Social. Basically work is obviously for work related tasks, Me is for my own personal development, dreams, or fun stuff I want to do. Life is the other stuff. Doctors appointments, organising holidays, important things that I need to do at the house or in the garden. Social is the social appointments I have that month. Then I fill out the monthly spread below in a notebook that I can close and it sits on my desk.
Some of the monthly goals are set by the calendar, Dad’s birthday, group meetings etc some of the monthly goals come from the yearly goals action steps I have created.
Step 3: Monthly overview
One of the issues I had with time management was my unrealistic expectations of how much time I really had. This monthly overview system works wonders for me. And has the added bonus of me remembering to take self care breaks.
In the form below you simply fill out first the fixed activites you have such as work, training, food shopping. Then fill in the monthly appointments, social events, such as dentist visit or girls night. After that block out a break of at least one evening after tiring social activities or weeks with a lot in them. Lastly put in stuff that you want to get done. Scrapbooking or weeding the garden. Don’t put more that one task into the 2 boxes. The top box is for activities before 17:00 the bottom on is for activities after 17:00. This helps keep the overview and reminds me what is the main focus area for each day.
Step 4: Weekly plan
Instead of creating a weekly todo list I use my monthly goals and monthly overview to plot out my activities for the week. I know exactly when I am writing an article or putting the washing away. It is scheduled not by time but by areas of the day, morning, afternoon and evening. One of the things I am really strict about is making a cut off point of my day. Basically the time where I am not willing to work over AND the time where I am not willing to grown up (ie washing, cleaning, cooking, paying bills, etc). After my break down I insist on at least a full 1 down time. In Fact these days work stops at 17:00, grown upping at 18:30 -19:00, after dinner is down time.
Step 5: Daily plan
Some people love to time block their to do list, personally I love to use the Todoist app. Basically once I have made a week plan I plot the activities into my app and prioritise them. If you don’t time block I highly recommend prioritising your daily to do list. It helps you be realistic about what you can do in 24 hours and to plan after how much energy you have.
The biggest thing this system has taught me is to accept. Accept what I can do and what I can’t do. IT makes my planning realistic, my stress less and I am a lot happier in my life. Now as you read this you might be thinking doesn’t this take a long time. Honestly I probably use 1 hour per month on this process and considering that the average month has 730,001 hours I think it is time well spent as I not only achieve what needs doing and I have at least 50 hours a week to invest in myself doing what I want to do. Now who wouldn’t like that?
If you would like more time management tips and hacks check out my time management tips article here!
What time management systems work for you?
Let me know in the comments below
Have a great week <3