Let’s Talk Time Management
We all have the same 24 hours in a day, 1440 minutes each and every day. How you spend them determines how you live your life. We know we need eight hours of sleep each night. When was the last time you slept more than five hours a night? If we take out eight hours for sleep what do we do with the other 16 hours or 960 minutes?
Let’s focus first on what is most important. There are different areas of our lives that need attention. The list that seems to be the most widely used is; relationships, career, financial, physical, intellectual, spiritual and social. How you prioritize these are up to you. BUT, setting a goal in each area and doing something toward that goal each month, week, and/or day is how you will reach that goal.
Relationships will cover family, friends, and networking. What you put into these relationships will determine what you get out of them. Feed them well and you will enjoy the relationship more and have a deeper connection.
Career can include your work, your side gig, your business or whatever makes you money. You are not stuck in a job, ever. You trade time for work or skills for work. Think about that one. Again, what you put into it is what you get out of it.
Financial is a combination of what you earn, your savings, and your investments. If you are not making investments and creating a savings, you really should consider this area and set some intentional goals. Believe me, you will age and it will happen faster than you think. You need to be prepared for your older years.
Physical includes sleep, nutrition and exercise. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to take care of this area of your life. This one area affects EVERY other area of your life in a multitude of ways. I’m not saying you have to go out and do a triathlon or run a marathon. You do however need to move your body every day, feed it fuel so it functions well and sleep for recovery and renewal.
Intellectual is an area that I think most people forget about after they leave high school or college. It is just as important to feed your mind as it is to feed your body. Read, watch TED talks or documentaries, listen to podcasts, hire a coach or whatever way you need to feed your mind and learn something new every single day. It is just as much an investment into your future as any financial investment you make.
Spiritual time is a time for you and your God, higher power, inner self or whatever your beliefs are. I’m not here to push some spiritual agenda on you. Taking the time to pray, meditate or renew your spirit is beyond value. For me personally, if this area is not right, the rest of the areas of life get muddled up.
Social is the aspect of “paying it forward”, leaving the world in a better place than you came into it, or giving back to the community. I truly believe that when you find a way to make a difference in the world, you have found your purpose. It doesn’t matter what it looks like. You can make a difference in the world and I encourage you to find an outlet to do that.
50-Minute Brain Dump
Now that you have areas to focus on, let’s get down to it. There are multiple studies out on brain science and how long we can intently focus on a topic. After a certain point, the rule of diminishing return comes into play. This means that you use the time limit that works best for you to stay focused on a particular topic and then walk away from it for a while. The average time is a 50-minute session with a 10 minute break.
For those of us with ADD/ADHD I would HIGHLY recommend that you set a timer and find your ideal focus time. That varies for most people from day to day. We’ve all had days that just seem easier than others to be productive. I still shoot for that 50-minute session.
I call this a brain dump because you set a timer for 50 minutes and write down everything that you can possibly think of that you want or need to do in any of the areas above. This could be tasks to build a business, learn something new, spend time with the kids, or go to the gym. The trick is to keep writing during the whole 50-minute session. Don’t stop writing the whole time, even if you have to write “I don’t know” just keep writing.
This list will be the basis of setting up your personal time management system.
Your Personal Time Management System
Your personal time management system will look different than someone else’s. We each have our priorities, what’s most important to us. We need to start with that to create the life we really want to have to be truly happy.
I’ll share what has been the most life-changing system for me personally. Keep in mind that I am ADD and need a physical way of tracking everything that I do and want to accomplish. Below will give you a list of supplies needed and system to make it all happen.
Post-it Notes (Tickets)
It starts with post-it notes. I am THE post-it note queen! I call them tickets. Do yourself a favor and pick up those little 3” X 3” yellow post-it notes. This size works well. Each of the items on your list from your 50-minute brain dump will go onto a post-it note. This is your task list. If it doesn’t fit on a 3” X 3” post-it note, the task needs to be broken down.
A couple of things that help control these tickets is to get multiple colors of the permanent markers. I have purple for spiritual, green for career, blue for intellectual, and so on. Get enough colors that fit each area of your life. For those of us that run multiple businesses, I have different shades of green for each business. Some people prefer a different color for each business. You get the idea though.
This is a way to always know how many tasks you have for each area of your life. It ensures that you are working on each area and helps you to prioritize.
Personal Kanban board
This personal Kanban board has forever changed my life. I wish I had known about this method decades ago. Get yourself a white board and set it up. Turn it sideways so that it is longer side to side. Divide it into four columns. First column is “Options”, Second column is “This Week”. Third column is split in half. The top half is “Waiting” and bottom half is “Today”. The last column is “Ta Done!” Of course you can title them however you want.
There is a book Personal Kanban: Mapping Work/Navigating Life by Jim Benson that goes into more detail of how this works.
Once you have all your post-it notes put into the OPTIONS column by color, then you can prioritize them in a manner that meets your goals and what is most important to you.
Moving Your Tickets
After putting everything into the “Options” column and prioritizing them, you are to pull three to six tickets from the options column into the “This Week” column. NEVER pull more than six tickets over. Once you have completed these three to six and you still have time left in the week, you can pull more over.
Each day you will pull a ticket from the “This Week” Column into the “Today” column. You will never pull more than 1-3 items into “Today” column. Only pull what you KNOW you can do today! If it is one ticket, then only pull one ticket.
The “Waiting” column is for those tasks that you have to wait for someone else’s response. An example is that you call to schedule an appointment but have to wait for a referral or a call back. That ticket will go in the waiting column until you hear back from the other person.
The “Ta Done!” column is where you put all the tickets you have completed. This gives you a huge idea of how much you really accomplish in a week. I typically take a photo at the end of each week and do a new focus brain dump to add whatever I need to. I add and take away tickets as needed too.
NOTE: Each ticket should only require one hour or less of your attention. If the task will take more than one hour, break it down until the tasks are less than an hour.
Everyone is different and you can feel free to adjust this process to fit your needs. This is a quick overview of this too. If you would like some coaching on how to use this time management system in your life, schedule a Navigation Assessment to discuss what you need help with, more detailed personalization of this system, and where to go from here. I’d love to work with you on your time management needs.