8 Time Management Activities To Help You Do it All

When I tell people I’m an entrepreneur, author, international speaker, pilot and mom, I usually get a reaction like, “Really? What magical time management activities help you get it all done?”

My knee-jerk reaction is to tell them, I just DO IT.

And they usually reply…”but really? How do you do it?”

I get this question over and over again as people find out about my multiple hats.

When I think about it, I can answer in many ways. I can say that I have superpowers, or that my days have 30 hours instead of 24 or that I have a clone that masters my schedule.

The truth is that I don’t. I am a regular person with a lot commitment and drive. I love to see the physical manifestation of things, whether it’s a simple action item on a shopping list or a complex project that is set to take months or years. I never lose sight of the feeling I will have once I complete the project. I never give up. That is my secret sauce.

I’m also realistic. When you think about it, there really is no such thing as “balance”, is there? If you are doing one thing, you are not doing another. If I’m with my children, I’m not completing a project at work. If I’m flying an airplane, I’m not at a speaking engagement. If I could figure out time management activities that would help me do these things simultaneously, I would be the next Steve Jobs.

Instead, I can share some of the time management activities that I’ve learned from experience help me get me through my day as efficiently as possible. They are my daily shields against wasting time, so I share them now with you in hopes they will help you too.

1. Visualize the next day.

Every night, I prepare for the next day by visualizing the day to come. I mentally walk through the day, imagine different scenarios and what I need to do to enter the meeting fully prepared. This also gives me the opportunity to not only prepare for the meeting but to add a little sparkle-for example, bring something special for the client, like a new idea, example or token.

One time one of my clients was having trouble turning a profit. Their seasonal business was dependent upon the weather, which was not cooperating. All they needed was sun! I was going to a meeting with them, so I stopped and brought them a sun-shaped helium balloon as a symbol that my heart was with them, since I couldn’t provide the real thing. This is the kind of magic I can add when I prepare and plan for the next day.

2. Write it down.

You’re probably thinking, why? I’ve got Google calendar, Outlook, and every other electronic reminder under the sun. Well, so do I, but writing it down is a way of cementing it in my mind and even helping me brainstorm elements of the planning of that action item. I have little notes, post-its all over the place that I take with me as reminders as I leave the house. For me, there is something about the act of the physically crossing something off a list, or discarding the reminder, that is satisfying and keeps me moving forward. It’s one of my most effective time management activities.

3. Determine your top priorities for the day.

With all the daily things you have to do, it is very easy to get distracted from what truly is a priority. What I like to do is have a macro-plan and micro-plan of my priorities for the day. The macro-plan includes several key action items that I absolutely need to accomplish that day. For example:

  1. Meeting with Mr. Big Client
  2. Launch Ms. Client’s website
  3. Write monthly newsletter

The micro-plan might look like this:

  1. Meeting with Mr. Big Client
    1. Confirm agenda
    2. Get final version of logos from designer
    3. Leave by 2:00 for 30 minute drive
  2. Launch Ms. Client’s website
    1. Check with web developer
    2. Send notification to client
  3. Write monthly newsletter
    1. Brainstorm ideas
    2. Write rough draft
    3. Sent to editor for review
4. Take Time to Celebrate.

I know what you’re thinking. How does this save time? Well, I find that if after you complete a long or difficult task, if you give yourself a mental or physical break from what you are doing, it actually restores creativity and recharges you for the next big win. Anything that qualifies as a “reward for a job well done” can be classified as a “celebration”. For example, enjoying a Starbucks Frappuccino, taking a walk, reading something for pleasure or doing a little of whatever you like to do are all ways to celebrate, and surprising time management activities that can serve as an impetus for starting the next big project without delay.

5. Create in small intervals.

This is a fun one. Want to get something done quickly? Time yourself to get it done in small chunks. Set a timer, put on some music (if you’d like) and see what can be done in 10 minutes, 15 minutes, etc. Making yourself concentrate on one activity for that amount of time will keep you focused and productive. It also makes you more conscious of time in general and what you can accomplish. If you’re a competitive person, this is especially effective because you are challenging yourself to a specific, time-bound goal. Try it. It works!

6. Have a sacred space to work.

You’ve heard this one before but it’s important to have the special place where you work, connect, explore, imagine, pray or set yourself in the context of what you’re trying to do. This will help create your inspiration. When I have to do a big proposal, I go to my space, put on my headphones, tune out the world and focus intently on it. I need my space to get it done and when I do, it feels amazing.

7. Re-plan and adjust as necessary.

As moms, entrepreneurs, etc. things come up. We need to feel the energy throughout that process and realize this is just a temporary deviation from the schedule. We don’t have to be rigid; in fact, we can waste time if we are not flexible enough to make changes. Sometimes, making an adjustment in the timeline, process or context of the project can actually save us time in the long run, as long as we stay focused on the end goal.

For example, one time I was working with a client on a new business proposal. Within it we had various ideas we wanted to present but felt it would be done best with a graphic design. The trouble was, we were pressed for time. By asking to reschedule the meeting, we were able to go in with a fabulous graphic presentation of our ideas. In the long run, by adjusting the time frame of the meeting so we could express the idea graphically, we feel it ultimately saved both our team and the client time lots of time that would otherwise have been spent…..

  1. explaining the idea to the client.
  2. getting the client comfortable with including the idea into the overall marketing plan.
  3. making revisions, iterations of the graphic later on.
  4. getting project approval.
8. Look at problems from a different perspective.

When your work hits a snag, or something happens that discourages or disengages you, it is easy to allow the problem to monopolize our time as you wallow in your misfortune. In this situation, I find one of my most helpful time management activities to move past the problem is by looking at it from a different perspective. As a pilot, this is easy for me to do. When you’re literally flying 3,000 miles above the problem, you have a chance to be aware of the true context of the situation. Another thing I do is to actually make a voice recording of myself talking about the problem. When I play it back, I think, “I can help her!” and I do, just because I am now approaching the problem like a consultant rather than a victim. However you do it, looking at your life from different perspectives will infuse it with inspiration and keep you moving forward to maximize your time.

While time management will always be a challenge, by incorporating these time management activities into your life, you can maximize the boundless, amazing blessings that come your way every day. In other words, maximizing your time will maximize your life! Start today!

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