April 13, 2017

Are You Using Your Time Wisely? An Experiment…

time managementWe all know that as entrepreneurs, time is one of our most scarce assets. We simply don’t have enough of it to do everything that needs to get done during the day and oftentimes are left feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and stressed by the number of to-do’s left undone.

Like many of you, I was feeling this way and couldn’t figure out how to righten the ship.  As luck would have it, a perfectly timed vacation was in the books for last week so I left that to-do list and headed for the beach (a nice respite from the rainy Pacific Northwest winter).   Without the constant demands of work I had a lot of time to read, run, and reflect – three things that tend to help me be a better human being.  And it was during those runs/reflections (typically would happen simultaneously when not gawking at giant sea turtles on the rocks near my run route) that I realized that I can’t change how much time I have to devote to my work and I can’t continue to burn the candle at both ends without becoming seriously burned out.  So now what?

If I can’t change those two things, then I needed to take a hard look at how I managed the time I do have for my business as well as the time I have for personal things (that doesn’t include laundry, cleaning the house, cooking family dinner, etc) and figure out how to make this all work.

Here’s the reality – when I took a really hard look at how I was spending my time, two big time sucks were evident:

  • I can get sucked down the social media rabbit hole with the best of them.  Maybe I just want to check for a minute during the workday or see what’s up when hanging out at night with my husband after my kiddo is asleep – next thing I know 30+ minutes have passed and I’m still aimlessly scrolling and clicking.  Yes, it’s a great way to destress and zone out but is it really productive?
  • Emails…oh my goodness the emails…they never stop coming and I keep trying to stay on top of them but they.just.keep.coming…and every time I stop to answer one I get off task on something else I was working on.

So here’s my challenge to myself – an experiment if you will –

  • Social media can only be looked at 1x in the morning and 1x at night.  Stay off of it during the workday and focus on work and that to-do list.   Let’s be honest, it will still be there when I get back.
  • Emails will be relegated to being answered first thing in the morning and again in the afternoon.  If the email comes in after that time period then it will wait until the next ’email’ time zone (think I’m joking – I actually blocked out time in my calendar to dedicate specifically to emails).   I’m struggling with this a little bit because I’m someone who likes to reply right away and make sure your questions are answered but that’s time that’s getting taken away from projects that need my complete focus.
  • Technology sabbath once a week.  I found I was much less stressed – and much more creative – when I turned my phone off for the majority of vacation.  In fact, the more I turned it off the more I found I didn’t really want it versus my usual ‘checking it every 5 minutes’ behavior when at home.  So I’m instituting a personal technology shutdown on a Saturday or Sunday every week to see how that helps my emotional and creative self.

I’m committing to this for 3 months so let’s see how it goes.  Will I be able to hold to these boundaries or will social media, emails, and technology creep back in and claim their place in my daily time tables?  Alternatively, if I am able to hold to these will it have a positive impact on my life and/or my work?  I’ll report back in 3 months and let you know how it all turned out.

In the meantime, I’d love to know if any of you have struggled with time management and making the most of the time you do have.  Do you have any tips to share?

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