Time Management for Grasshoppers

I’ve been thinking a lot about time management recently.

I’ve been a writer for three months now. Well – that’s not strictly true – I’ve been a writer for a long time and a published author for nearly fifteen years. However, at the end of March, I ‘retired’ from technical consultancy in order to write full-time.

This week, I got the opportunity to write my first guest blog, thanks to Susan Howe and The Long and The Short of It. http://howesue.wordpress.com/ I used it to write about some of the lessons I’d learned about writing. They turned out to centre on how I manage my time. At the same time, discussion threads on a couple of my Facebook Group talked about dealing with distractions and other aspects of time management.

I would classify my approach to life as that of a grasshopper. I’ve been working in an industrial setting for more than thirty years; I’ve co-run a small business for the past twenty years. I get involved in other activities at the drop of a hat and jump from one thing to another as they take my interest. I couldn’t have done that without learning to manage my time. So here are my top tips:

  1. Your diary is a critical tool. I use an A5 hard copy one, which will fit in my handbag. I’ve tried electronic formats, but they don’t work for me. I need to be able to flick through the pages.(That’s probably age-related). Decide which format suits you – and keep it with you at all time.
  2. Your diary needs to be flexible, as priorities will change. If it’s electronic, it can easily be updated. In my hard copy, I use pencil, NEVER pen – and I always have an eraser handy.
  3. Periodically run through your To Do list (you do have one, don’t you?) and check progress. I prepare a monthly one as a Mind Map, with daily ones on scraps of paper if I am particularly pressured for time. The monthly one is a brain dump and often helps to reduce any feelings of stress over having too much to do.
  4. Learn to distinguish between items with a deadline, which are your MUSTS and those which can be moved around or pushed back, which are your WANTS.
  5. When a MUST needs to be achieved, learn to ignore all the WANTS and concentrate on just one thing. Chances are, you will achieve it quicker and better that way.
  6. When you’ve cleared the immediate MUSTS, you can go back to the WANTS. This is when I release the inner grasshopper and let her play for a while.

By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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