My Top Time Management Tips
“I don’t have time.”
It’s the oldest excuse in the book – and I wholeheartedly agree. We don’t have time.
We don’t have time because we spend the time we do have poorly, and at the end of the day, we are left with next to nothing for ourselves to do what we need to do so we can achieve our goals. There, I said it. We have piss poor time management skills.
Over the years, I’ve become a tad obsessed with productivity and efficiency – believe me, after a year of therapy, I’m fully aware this trait comes with its own set of problems. For better or worse, I’ve gotten my day down to the minute so I can accomplish my shit, and find time for myself. While the process can seem a bit INSANE, it’s actually the primary key that keeps me sane.
Behold, the two B’s of time management:
When their powers are combined, you’ve got an organized cocktail of achievement that will make you feel like a GD superhero.
Let’s break them down.
Actually – before we do that – can we align on the proper anatomy of a to-do list? Because it’s the crux of the entire system.
TIME MANAGEMENT TIP #1: Restructure Your To-Do List
Whether you’re a pen and paper kind of bish or a digital one, your to-do list should be your north star. If you’re more of an “it’s all in my head” type of person, and yet you still can’t manage to bring your goals to life…please reconsider and try it my way. I promise you’ll be glad you did.
Anyway. You should have two to-do lists every day.
- A master list
- The immediate priorities
Your master list is a running list of ALL THE SHIT you have to do, the big, the small, the important, and the seemingly insignificant, regardless of deadlines. If it’s in your head, it’s on your list.
Your immediate priorities are just that, things you HAVE to get done TODAY. I keep my master list in Evernote so I can access it from my phone or computer. Anytime something strikes me or crosses my mind as something that I have to get done; I jot it down.
My immediate priorities live in a notebook I carry with me in my backpack daily. I take 10 minutes at the beginning of each day to formulate them by cross-referencing my calendar and my master list.
Speaking of your calendar, I live and die by mine and suggest you do too.
The main thing to remember with your immediate priorities is – take it literally. Only do in one day what you absolutely HAVE to get done. By setting boundaries, you’ll be able to stop working, running errands, doing chores, and free up some time for YOURSELF.
Read that again.
If it’s Monday, and you’re unable to work out because you’re “busy” doing something that isn’t needed until Friday, you are doing yourself a disservice, and you’re your own problem. I’m sorry if that’s hard to read, but I think some people need to hear it!
I’ll be super transparent; at the beginning of this process, I was REALLY uncomfortable, and it was a source of anxiety to “put off” something for tomorrow, which I could do today. You know how the old saying goes. Like, it would drive me insane to have something on my to-do list for days, but as I pushed forward, I realized the XYZ task WILL get done. It won’t get done today, but it WILL get done on Thursday at 10 AM.
It’s a new level of accountability – you have to trust yourself and the process, but you also have to deliver and follow through.
Here’s what my master list may look like – with some generalization to protect my confidential projects, LOL.
If this is our first time meeting, this blog makes $0 per year. My Instagram rakes in just over that. My bread and butter are my positions (plural) at Barry’s. I’m a trainer and a member of their corporate marketing team. But shout out to my haters on IG who claim I have a six-pack because I don’t work and have nothing but time to spend in the gym all day. AHAHAH, God love ya!!!!
I digress. Here’s what my master list looks like on any given day.
This app is called Evernote.
And this is what my immediate priorities list may look like.
Again, it’s only the shit I HAVE to get done in the day, and by not overcrowding this list, I’m able to accomplish each task without feeling rush AND can spend time with my family. It’s pretty fahking nice.
Once you have an idea of all the shit you have to do in one given day, you’re ready to batch and block your time.
TIME MANAGEMENT TIP #2: Start Time Batching
Time batching is the act of grouping items of your to-do list by orientation or proximity so you can do more with less start-up and transition time. You know what I’m talking about, right? How many instances have you wasted because you sat down on the couch for “five minutes” or took a break to eat, get coffee, or swing by a co-worker’s desk in between tasks, or worse mid-task? The time it takes you to re-focus is invaluable.
- Batching errands by proximity
- Answering emails or returning phone calls
- Making appointments for yourself or all members of your family (dr, hair, nails, cleaning services, etc.)
- Planning content by writing captions, blog posts, organizing pictures and uploading them into your content management platform or folders
- Doing all your cleaning or organizing at once, or one room/level at a time
- Consolidating meal prep for the week in one or two installments
The best part about batching is because you’re doing tasks that all share something in common, you are minimizing your chance for distraction, and making the most of your time.
TIME MANAGEMENT TIP #3: Block Your Time
Blocking your time is pretty much just how it sounds – assigning actual time to your tasks. Remember when I said I lived and died by my calendar? I wasn’t joking. I literally block off every hour of my day and assign it to a batched task above.
Generally speaking, we underestimate the time it’s going to take to do something. Then when we realize we don’t have the necessary time to get to the gym or write a business plan, we scrap it and put it off for another day, which turns into two days, a week, a month, and then a year.
Avoid the trap by knowing what you want to, knowing the actual amount of time it’ll take, and then schedule it, so you hold yourself accountable!
The only caveat with time blocking is your given task is the ONLY thing you’re doing. There’s no scope creep by stopping what you’re doing to do a co-worker a favor or whatever. You’re not checking social media, and there is no distraction from other items of your to-do list.
- Put your phone on DO NOT DISTURB
- Set a timer
- Close irrelevant windows, browsers, etc
It is AMAZING how much you can get when your head is down to get your shit done!!!
Putting It Together
When you put the two together, you’ll realize just how quickly your entire day can be spoken for, and that kind of lights a fire under your ass. Remember my list of immediate priorities above? Here’s a visual of how they come to life when batched and blocked.
Batch your tasks and then block your time, AND THEN EXECUTE. Because if you don’t, more than likely, you’ll lose the chance. And that’s pretty powerful.
A couple of notes:
- I eat at my desk like a total peasant, so I don’t account for lunch because I eat what I’ve packed while I work
- If I finish one task early, I’ll take a break if I need it, refill water, use the restroom, check social, or re-arrange the calendar to pivot
- If I have to go over, I evaluate in real-time if I can afford to spend more time on something, and then pivot as necessary
- In this example, I batch my errands because they’re all within one block of each other. And if I start at Nordstrom and work my way back to FedEx, I end up right back at Barry’s where I need to be to teach my 5:30 PM class. I only have 45 minutes to do all three, so NO FAHKING WINDOW SHOPPING, KATE!!!! I’M SO SERIOUS.
- MISC Shit = evaluate what’s popped up during the day and if anything HAS to get out the door by the end of day and if so, get that done asap
When people say, “I don’t know how you do everything you do,” working two jobs, creating content for a blog and social media, working out, meal prepping, and spending time with my loved ones – this is my response, and it’s the secret sauce.
It takes practice to get the hang of the system, and it’s uncomfortable if you’re a real go-getter who never likes to stop until all jobs are done or a people-pleaser who will drop what they’re doing to do something for a co-worker.
I do this process every. single. day and it’s transformed the way I work and live my life. Like ANYTHING else, at first, it took some time and effort, and now, years later, I can do it in a matter of minutes.
As counter-intuitive as it may sound being held hostage to your calendar or a list on paper, it’s actually pretty fahking freeing because you’ll be spending your time and energy EXACTLY HOW YOU WANT.