October 4, 2011

Tuesday Tip of the Day -- Five Rules for Effective Time Management

I will admit it, time has gotten away from me in the past.  That's the exact reason I started to develop my Five Rules for Effective Time Management and I'd love to share them with you!

I run a company but because I'm a sole proprietor not only do I get to do the wonderful artwork, but I also have the distinct pleasure of being the marketing manager, social media guru, promotional material presenter, research and development testing facility (I must admit this is one of my favorites!), and a slew of other positions that range from mind numbing financial stuff to just having fun.

Not to mention, I like an added challenge.

For those of you who don't know, I'm a student, currently pursuing a degree in English and taking classes online.  My wonderfully glorious husband is awesome and supporting our family while I finish school.  Yea!  Three cheers for Matt!

But if you've ever met me, know me, have had a brief encounter with me...etc., etc., etc...you know there is no way I could let myself get bored and not contribute to the family.  Essentially there's no way I wouldn't do some kind of work.  So I've been pursuing my Chucka Stone Designs Shop with full force!

I try to blog a couple times a week, I curate collections and inform the sellers they've been included, I create my own items, list and promote them on my shop, test new products and do write ups, network online and read interesting articles...

Oh yeah, and I'm maintaining a 4.0 GPA at the same time.  You know it baby!  High five to all the wicked smaht kids out there!

You're probably saying 'Holy crap, I'm tired just thinking of all that, let alone doing it, she couldn't posibly really do all that and have a life, and spend time with family and friends!'  For the most part if I tried to tackle all that stuff head on everyday I'd be so lost in a sea of infinity there is no way I wouldn't have drowned by now!

In order to fit it all in and not go stark raving mad I developed my personal list of:

Five Rules for Effective Time Management.  

1. Take weekends off.
It may sound impossible but for the past month or so I have insisted to myself that I take my weekends back for me and Matt.  If I were at a traditional college or a "regular" job it would be rare I'd have a class or work need on the weekends, so why am I going to run my business or school schedule any differently?  I'm not!  Matt works very hard to make sure we can live on his salary.  I also work very hard to create/study.  We both work Monday through Friday.  Does this mean that emergency situations will never arise, huge papers with tons of research won't be due or an unforseen circumstance won't persent itself where I simply have to do something on the weekend?  No, of course not.  Even he sometime has to put in an hour or 2 here or there but in general I turn off the computer and close my day planner to any plans that don't involve family, friends, or sporting events on Saturday and Sunday.  This is my recharge time and it lets me jump back in on Monday morning fully rejuvinated!

2. Get a day planner and use it!
Speaking of that nice little accessory that sits in front of me at all times...I'm in love with and obsess over my day planner.  Now, I'm old school, I need to hand write it all out so its planted solidly in my brain what I'm doing and when.  But no matter what kind of device works for you this should be attached to your person during business hours.  It is where I create to do lists and check off accomplished tasks daily.  However, don't let it get out of control...which leads me to...

3. Don't list more than 6 to-do items in any one day.
Yup, I mean it.  For business needs especially I've found that even though every day in my planner has about 15+ lines to fill, if I go above and beyond 6 things then something is going to get missed or completely abandoned.  That could be a vital business need like printing flyers for an upcoming networking mixer, or life stuff like doing laundry.  If I ever feel like I need to pile it all on & more than 6 things are running through my brain, I divy the items up across the week then take a sheet of paper from the back of the planner, write a 'to do during the week of' list and place it inside my planner on the following week.  That way, anything that I didn't get to accomplish clearly wasn't vital and can be finished the next week.

4. Finish the important stuff first, then feel free to play.
School.  That's my personal 'business before pleasure' necessity.  To me it is a hugely important to a) graduate b) do it with honors and c) understand the information I ingest every week.  I literally plan nothing for business or otherwise before 5:00 PM on Monday or Thursday.  Those are the days assignments are due at school and I dedicate the entire day to my studies on both.  If I finish early and have extra time, great.  Sometime I spend that time doing business stuff, other times I don't, just depends how I feel on any given M/H.  But I never get myself into business stuff before finishing my school work or I find myself scrambling to get it done late, stressed out and then quality of my work and quality time outside of my studies will suffer.  You pickin' up what I'm puttin' down here?  Find your highest priority day by day and, no matter how tedious or unfortunate it seems to have to complete it, do it first.  Get it out of the way and you'll be happier that you did!

5. During creation time, create. During marketing time, market. Do not get the two confused.
Another way to put this?  Get the heck off the computer!  I pour my coffee in the morning and get online.  It takes me about an hour and 15 minutes to finish my coffee and granola bar.  This gives me time to check my emails, pop into facebook / twitter / Etsy / forums / etc. and see what's up in the online world while I wake my ass up!  BUT, if its a creation day, I will not be on the computer after that.  Period.  Tuesdays are generally my admin day -- I write up blog posts for the week, do a little networking with my Etsy Teams, etc. and sometimes there's plenty of time to create items too.  That's always fun because I get a two-fer.  But generally Wednesday and Friday are my create/photograph days and I like to keep it that way.  Yes it means stuff hangs around a little longer but it also means I have the all important, sometimes elusive but never disliked...

                                                                 Work / Life Balance

I hope these tips can help you to achieve the same and you can use them as inspiration to establish your own Time Management Rules to keep your life and business firmly on track.

How do you maintain a work / life balance?  Have any other tips for Effective Time Management that work for you?

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