We women are masters at piling too much on our plates – over-committing because we can’t say no – and then feeling guilty because we didn’t get it all done. That’s just plain crazy, and frankly, it’s exhausting just thinking about it.
And as women entrepreneurs, we wear many hats and put our juggling skills to the test. If we’re going to get it all done and keep our businesses operating like well-oiled machines without losing our sanity, it’s essential to marry a little good-old-fashioned time management with much needed boundaries.
Let’s get real for a moment … yes, you’re super-woman, and yes people are counting on you, and yes you’re a master at juggling and getting stuff done. But if you want to actually have a life – and enjoy it – time boundaries MUST be employed. They’re for you (so you don’t dive into the pit of overwhelm and exhaustion) and everyone else (so they know what to expect and what not to expect from you). Some suggestions …
- Establish the “closed-door” boundary – when your door is shut it means “do NOT disturb” under any circumstances unless it’s an emergency. “I can’t find my keys” or “I’m hungry, can I have a soda” are not emergencies. This is for quiet time with your clients, for writing, or other periods of time when you want uninterrupted time to focus.
- Establish the phone, email, cell phone, internet boundary – these are time suckers, and left unchecked, your day will slip away on you. This boundary is really about you and how you manage your time (more about that in a moment). Technology is helpful and can simplify our lives, but it can also be a time-trap. Calls can be returned, social media updated, and emails sent at planned intervals throughout your day.
So let’s talk about planning …
Planning will liberate your time. It will create structure in your day and help you focus on what’s most important and needs your attention. Simply put, you’ll get more done. Some people think structure, systems and planning are confining but that’s just not true. There’s room for flexibility in planning, and you’ll quickly learn what works best for you. Believe me, you will find yourself getting more done in less time and having a lot more time to enjoy other things. The 3-step plan to getting it all done …
- The week at a glance – take 15 minutes on a Sunday for planning. What are your goals for the week? What projects do you have coming up? What absolutely must get done? I like to identify a main theme or project for each day of the week because it helps in chunking down the tasks that need to be done. It also helps to laser-focus blocks of time rather than jumping between right and left brain tasks.
- Block your time - block out periods of time each day to work your to-do list. Have writing to do? Block a period of time to get it done. You’ll be surprised how much you get done when you give yourself a specific period of time to complete a task. And, you’ll soon develop your own rhythm, identifying when you’re most creative and energetic. This method is also a real time-saver for email, social media, and returning phone calls. I block out time for this twice a day – towards the beginning of my day and early afternoon.
- At the end of each day, review and course-correct – did things take longer to complete than you initially thought, are there items on your to-do list that didn’t get done? If so, reschedule important items to the next day, making them a top priority. If you’re on track, review your next day so you’re ready to jump into your day in the morning.
A few other tips …
- Practice goal-based planning. If it’s not moving your toward your goal, drop it or delegate it right away!
- Use lists. You can’t focus when your to-do list is in your head. Write it down and prioritize to get things done.
- Do something productive (income generating or business development) first thing at the start of your day.
Confession … I’m far from perfect with my time – it’s so easy for me to get caught in the rabbit hole of the newest technology, social media, email, or just wanting to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Because I plan my week and check in daily to be sure I’m on track for reaching my goals, I have the flexibility to jump in the car, take the T-tops out, and take a drive on a beautiful day knowing that my business is right on track.
~ Miki xo