As I am growing busier and busier with more work and more contracts on my hand, time management has become a critical thing for me in order to get things done. After my trip to Costa Rica, it was a bit hard to adjust back to the Vancouver rhythm of things, but I think I’m getting back at it. Here are some things I do to make the most of my time so that I get all my work done, and still have time for myself.
I won’t pepper you with the typical time management stories that you’ve heard over and over again – make a list, use organizers, plan the day and allocate x amount of hours to each task to get it done, etc. I will talk about time management from a much broader angle.
- There are certain tasks that need to be done during the day, and certain that can be done at night. I can either drive through daytime traffic to deposit my cheque (and hopefully I’ll find parking within a block), or I can wait until late at night and do it in a leisurely fashion – perhaps even park illegally right in front of the bank, as at 12:00 AM it doesn’t really matter. Prioritize tasks.
My method of prioritizing, as you can see, largely splits things into “business hours” and “after hours”. This should be a good place to start prioritizing what needs to be done when.
- If time management is important for you, chances are you work from home. And chances are, sometimes you feel distracted at home – with the lure of TV, stuff in the fridge, your bed/couch for a nap, etc. When this happens I pack my briefcase with my laptop and head out to Blenz Coffee, where I can work with relatively less distractions. And since there are other people around me, I feel more pressured to actually do some stuff so I don’t look like an idiot.
Change of location and setting can often give you a fresh boost. Feel free to use it to your advantage. I definitely do!
- Delegate things that you can hand out. For example, I never ever cook for myself. Why? The time/effort put into grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning is not worth it. I’d rather fork out the cash to eat out every single meal (with the exception of breakfast – I’ve come to terms with putting milk and cereal into a bowl and chowing it). And I’ve given my roommate a break on the rent in exchange for being exempt from bathroom cleaning duties – no, I didn’t force her, I only offered.
The richer you get, the more of this you should do in order to increase your efficiency – hire a maid/cleaner, nanny, etc. BUT do not EVER do this out of vanity. Your ROI by investing the money instead of your own time for these tedious tasks MUST be good enough. I only occasionally hire a cleaner these days. And I still drive myself.
- Look for multi-tasking chances. For example, my Blackberry is a great tool for sending out emails to clients to communicate little stuff – deadlines, when to meet, etc. A lot of things can be done through a handheld machine without having to be at your computer all the time. I can send emails while I’m eating at my restaurants, walking in the park, or when I’m stopped at a red light (do NOT send emails while driving!!!).
Another thing I also do is to bring my newspaper to restaurants. I make it mandatory for myself to read the newspaper every day so I keep in sync and keep smart. Best time, I found, to get this over with is as I’m in the restaurant, waiting for, and enjoying, my food. Talk about 2-for-1 deals, eh? It’s not only the tacos.
- Plan your trips carefully, and always think. If you need to go to a certain destination, think of other things you can do. “Well, I have to hit Broadway and Cambie to go to the city hall. May as well pop by at Canadian tire to grab household stuff.” is how I think. I just saved myself an extra half an hour to make a separate trip. This might seem easy, but if you’re not CONSTANTLY thinking of what stuff you need to do, you will forget to do this and waste more time for tedious trips repeated.
- Health should be a priority. You’re going “what does health have to do with time?” I hit the gym 2~3 times a week and play lots of soccer outside. It’s mandatory for my lifestyle. I like being fit and I like feeling happy. Being physically healthy will bring you more mental clarity with work at all times, and increase your efficiency overall. Also I spend much less days/hours sick with the flu etc. compared to a lot of my friends my age. Those days on antibiotics and Buckley’s are tonnes of work hours wasted.
For those reasons, I keep physically active as much as I can, and I also rarely eat fast food. When I eat out, it’s either Subway, or a real restaurant that serves proper food. I know it sounds expensive (and it bloody well is) but it’s worth every single penny. And same could be said about my gym membership.
There you go. Some tips on better time management from a slightly different angle than the traditional stuff.