Time Management for GrasshoppersI’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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.