Time management is something that I have really struggled with especially starting up as a self-employed, freelance yoga instructor. Having now, over a year experience working for myself, I am learning how to organise my time more effectively. I fully believe that you make time for the things that you want to do, or what you must do (especially when you’ve completely forgot to do something and get it done last minute style…time magically appears …made time for it).
The problem for me is that I want to do everything, but I feel there aren’t enough hours in the day!! I am definitely guilty of burning myself out because I believe that you can make time for everything; I am optimistic with my time.
So, if it is ‘just prioritising’ to make everything possible… why am I still burnt out… and what if everything is a priority?
I thought I would share 5 things that have helped me manage my time more effectively... 1. Don’t multitask Multitasking is a way to trick ourselves to think that we are doing more, when in fact it is just spreading our focus thinly across various tasks. Think of it this way... opening up 50 tabs on Google… it’s bound to crash! I find that with my attention split across multiple tasks, it takes me longer to complete any one given task. I also find I don’t work as efficiently or I even forget to complete a task. Do one thing at a time and do it with full intent and focus.
2. Don't finish what you started This one, was a big one for me... I'm stubborn and once I've put my energy into something I want to see it through, I hate giving up. But sometimes this isn't a good mentality to have, especially if it’s not working. Whilst I am optimistic to keep the idea/project alive (feeling forced or a lot of effort), it just eats up valuable time. Time that could be invested into something else! So, it is okay to “give up”, it’s just re-investing your energy elsewhere and it’s okay to say “no, this isn’t working or this isn’t right for me right now”. I still struggle with the latter. 3. Batching tasks
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed when I have a back log of things to do! I have found it helps to put similar tasks together and spacing them out over the week. I now set time aside for messaging, set aside time for various admin tasks (emails, website update, class plans, photo editing, marketing, updating expenses). This just allows me complete all tasks within that given time frame. Firstly, saving time as collectively the set up time adds up. Secondly, that my response rate, work efficiency has increased and I feel less scattered. Thirdly, as the tasks are grouped, I remember to do things.
Eliminate time consuming or unnecessary tasks.
I realised I created tasks just to make myself feel busy – putting off the more important! Take those unnecessary tasks off the to-do list and get the tasks that actually need doing completed. Finish them and gain free time.
Things I found to eliminate:
‘Whenever I can’ tasks e.g. Instagram/FB posting or emails - batch them
Meetings that could be discussed over email or phone
Answering emails or messages with passive responses. (e.g. ‘it is up to you’, ‘when are you free’, ‘what suits you best?’, ‘whatever really’. I take responsibility to make plans so I usually message with specific dates or options and asks which suits them – it saves the faff of back and forth of messages.)
1 minute tasks - if something is going to take less than 1 minute to do … just do it! Instead of putting into the stock pile of things to do! It has helped me declutter my mind space and not feel like I don’t have time with a never ending to do list.
5. Making it accessible for you
Recently, the penny dropped; to do the things you want and make them accessible in your life! For example, (in short) I want to get stronger, so instead of learning new set movements that are unfamiliar to me, just to start strength training by incorporating weights into yoga movements. It saves me time - check out training – Yoga style
80/20 rule or Pareto rule – 80 percent of your outcomes come from 20 percent of your inputs
80/20 rule has helped me realise that aiming for perfection might be a good goal to have, but it will never be obtained. Expecting perfection is time consuming and sometimes diminishes a goal. This held true for my forever goal of wanting to learn Chinese. Every time I had the spark and inspiration to learn Mandarin again, I would want my mandarin to be perfect, studiously setting time out to learn all the characters, studying through texts books, not feeling ready to speak it because I wasn’t good enough yet. This was time consuming and without fail I would fall out of the habit of learning. So now I've made it more accessible, putting in the 20 %!! My aim has always been to learn Chinese so I can converse with my dad. I now listen to podcasts, listen to Chinese music and learn 5 words everyday on my phone; all on the way to work. Using my time more effectively as these learning methods are more accessible for me, portable and doable anywhere.
“The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
- Stephen Covey
Overall, with time management I find it is assessing where to schedule my priorities (even if everything feels like a priority). Taking one priority at a time, usually scheduling them over a 3 week period because I can’t fit everything in on one week!
I am getting better with saying no and not talking or to guilt myself into saying yes. This has been a really hard thing for me to say no as the thought that I am upsetting or letting people down or that I am making the wrong decision in saying no.
These tips have really helped me feel less scattered and find time for everything. Even looking back at last year’s diary to now makes me laugh - It clearly depicts the lack of time management and the mind state I was in!
Prioritising is about making time for things, however that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice other things that you want to do! Find a way to compliment or make it accessible in your lifestyle!
Hopefully this has been insightful and that you find a way to manage all your priorities! Most importantly, always find some ‘me time’! It is the best thing to give you time back; declutters the mind and creates mind space. So whether that is yoga time, meditation, a bathe, a glass of wine or movie time - do YOU time!