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4 Time Management Hacks

Time Management Planning. An image of a desk with a glass jar with highlighter pens inside. A green glass vase with pink flowers. A planner is open on the desk in front.

Time Management

In this blog I’ll be exploring time management hacks for busy mums, busy entrepreneurs, people building businesses outside of the 9 to 5 or people with low energy.

Time management is a funny thing, time is time and your relationship it can make a huge difference in how you approach your work. 

What does that mean?

What it means is we all have a finite number of hours in the day. We all have a limited number of hours that we can work on our businesses, our goals, our projects, whatever it is we are working on. When I discuss time management, I want to be clear – time can’t be stretched but what you can do is make the most out of the time that you do have.

That isn’t to say you’ve got to work at 100 miles an hour at every point that you’re sat at your desk, instead you have to learn how to work smartly in the time that you have. It’s all about learning how to work for you in a way that works best for you.

What we will cover:

  • How to improve your relationship with time & time management
  • Working with your energy
  • Time Auditing
  • Time Blocking
  • Active Planning

Time Management – Making It Work For You

There are a few different aspects to this – knowing when you work best & understanding the way that you work best. Time management isn't about trying to control time, it's about using it to make things work for you.

These have both been key for me in becoming more productive without working harder. Personally, I know I have more energy & focus in the morning, so what I have learnt is if I use too much energy, or spend too much time on the small tasks; for example opening emails and doing little fiddly bits just to warm me up, the chances are that my brain is going to give up before I get to the stuff that really needs doing.

For others, it can take a while to warm up in the morning so late morning or early afternoon might be your most focus time.

Can you work out when you’re most productive? How can you use this to support your time management skills?

You probably know this anyway, but if you're not sure, what you can do is keep a record of when you were really super hyper focused and you felt that you were easily in flow. Keep an eye on these patterns over a couple of weeks, or even a month to gain a clear awareness of the way your mind & body naturally works.

Working With Your Energy

Time management & your energy. If you’re affected by monthly cycles or dealing with health issues, caring for young children, family commitments, other jobs as you work towards your goals, be really mindful of this as well. My energy ebbs & flows hugely because of my chronic illness. This is intensified with both my monthly cycle & the full moon. I can really feel it & my energy can dip quite significantly.

If you’re affected by monthly cycles or dealing with health issues, caring for young children, family commitments, or other jobs as you work towards your goals, be mindful of this as well when you consider time management.

My energy ebbs & flows hugely because of my chronic illness. This is intensified with both my monthly cycle & the full moon. I can really feel it & my energy can dip quite significantly.

What I've learned to do is to be mindful of not cramming high energy activities around these times so that I get to keep working without wasting my time and my energy unnecessarily – because let’s be honest – when you’re not energised & when you’re not into the work that you’re doing, it can take you 4, 5 or 6 hours to finish a task that would normally (when you are in flow), take you only 20 or 30 minutes!

Time Auditing

The second time management tip that I want to share is to get crystal clear on where your time is actually going.

Generally when you plan your month / week / year you estimate how much time you will be able to give to each task. This is how you add it into your schedule & make plans around it.

But…

Estimating time spent is kind of the same as when you're trying to lose weight, but instead of measuring / tracking things, you guess the calories you’re eating. Often, when you look a bit deeper, it’s obvious you’ve been eating a few extra calories than what you originally thought… Can you relate?!

Time auditing is a brilliant tool for getting a more accurate overview. I absolutely love doing this myself, especially when starting a new project, and there’s no better time than the beginning of the year to audit your time! It will enable you to get clear on exactly where your time is going and how long tasks are actually taking you, making your monthly / weekly / daily plans much more accurate & workable.

Sometimes tasks take longer than you estimated, it may be more difficult, or more complex with lots of steps. It can depend on your skill set, with some tasks feeling much easier than others.

To plan & work effectively, you want to make sure that when you plugging into your tasks for the day or planning your schedule for the next week or month, you’re being realistic about what time you have to dedicate to the tasks. It helps avoid overwhelm & feeling like you're behind all of the time!

I suggest doing this over a week, but a few days would also be good enough. To do this, make a note of how long each task has taken you. I would also suggest making a note of the energy impact of the task.

  • Was it a high energy (red) level, where your energy was spent after completion?
  • Was it a medium (orange) level energy task that meant you needed a little bit of time afterwards?
  • Or was it a low energy (green) task that you felt okay with & you were still ready & able to move onto the next thing.

Understanding the impact each task has upon your energy will help you plan more effectively & improve your time management approach.

If for example you chose to time block your calendar, what you can do is colour-code it to help you with your time auditing. You will then get a much clearer picture of how much time & energy something takes.

When it comes to planning ahead, you can make sure that high energy tasks aren't cramped together, and created planned breaks around this.

This time management tip can be applied in different situations. As someone who lives with low energy issues, time management plays a huge role in my ability to manage day-to-day life as well as my work.

Time Auditing for Time Management. Workbook to discover where your time is spent. An image of a clock on a white shelf. A yellow background at the top 1/2 of the image & white at the bottom. The words "Time Auditing. Discover where your time is actually spent" in black text below the clock.

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Time Blocking

Moving on to time management tip 3 – it’s time blocking! I briefly mentioned time blocking before. This is where you dedicate a certain amount of time (whether it’s 15, 30, 60+ minutes), to a task.

It can be a great way to manage your time when you work in batches or you have a schedule that means you only have short amount of time to focus on your project / business goals. It's also a brilliant tool if you're a procrastinator or a perfectionist where time can disappear on tasks that you tend to spend too much time on (e.g., the fun stuff!).

When you time block & have it in your calendar, it’s clear and easy to see exactly where your time is going to be focused.

If you're someone who gets easily distracted or faces creators / writers block a lot, it helps by removing decision fatigue because you know what you're going to be focusing on & it's clear on how you need to use the time you have.

It's also great to manage a busy home or if you have team members. Once you have completed the time audit, you'll be able to use both of these to ensure that you're making the most out of the time you have available.

A Plan That Works For You!

The final time management tip that I want to talk about in this blog is having a plan that works for you. I know I touched on this in the beginning, and this may seem like an obvious one, but it's more than simply writing it out on a Sunday / Monday & then just glancing at it over the week.

Initially your plan should act like a roadmap of steps you need to complete to achieve your goal. It's where you break down the goal into smaller & more manageable steps.

Your plan needs to be your best friend – it needs to be interactive & by your side!

Having a plan that you use everyday means you will always know what you have done, what's coming up, the time you have, the tools you need & what your next steps are. It doesn't have to be a strict timetable, just a clear reflection of your goals, your progress & the tasks outstanding.

A clear interactive plan with a step-by-step pathway like this takes away any indecision and confusion which is particularly useful if you’ve only got 15/30 minutes at a time to work on things. You can just sit down, look at where you’re at on your list of tasks & pick it up at that point.

Then once you're finished, you just note what you've accomplished & repeat the next time you have some space to work. It's very handy for busy people who are juggling other things, or low energy. We know that life isn't linear & neither is achieving goals, so having something that can help keep you on track & save you time when you sit down to work is a great addition to your system.

Remember, the magic is in making sure that your plan is interactive & not something that’s just written in at the start of the week and then not looked at until the next week. It needs to be your blueprint & your business hub, where you note any progress / changes / successes / obstacles / solutions – it’s interactive and it’s by your side.

There is so much more that I could and will say about time management & the benefits of planning, but for now in honour of your time and energy, I’m gonna leave it there.

Share below your takeaways, or how you approach time management in your work.

Lynsey

Meet Lynsey

Lynsey Wall, Coach & Mentor at Coach Writes. About me - A headshot of Lynsey smiling. Wearing a black t-shirt, blue framed glasses. Office walls behind her.

Hey there! I'm Lynsey, a fellow entrepreneur, therapist, and accountability business coach. With over 5 years’ experience of running businesses, and over a decade as a tutor and trainer, I've learned the value of effective time management in creating a thriving business and a fulfilling life.

I'm passionate about sharing practical tips and insights to help fellow entrepreneurs find their rhythm and achieve their goals while maintaining a sense of balance. Join me on this journey of mastering time together & staying as authentic to yourself as you can.

Time efficiency is key to maintaining and growing my businesses. I have lived with chronic illness – ME/CFS since 2011 and since then I retrained as a counsellor, achieved a distinction for an MA in Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice; all while running 3 businesses! I want that for you as well & it is possible with the right support and pathway to success.

To find out more, visit The Authentic Growth Community

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