Summertime should be associated with holidays, relaxation and enjoyable days out. In reality, many people find that it brings the challenges of a work/life balance to a pinnacle. Were you able to spare the time to attend that wedding, join friends at a festival or head off on a family holiday? How did you juggle childcare for six weeks?
Back in 2017, Kelly’s of Cornwall Ice Cream undertook a poll of 2,000 British adults. The results clearly showed that time poverty was a major issue. Sadly, three-quarters of the respondents stated that they felt too stressed to have fun. This is in direct contrast to the ‘Art of Alles’; a Cornish phrase meaning to relax and enjoy life in an unhurried manner.
Those identified as most time-poor are high-earning, educated women with children. Constantly multi-tasking and trying to do it all, they have the least time to themselves. This may be of no surprise to you, but what can we do about it?
Cutting corners for time management
When the pressure is building, one way in which we ‘manage our time’ is to find short-cuts. It could be that you skip that final read-through of a presentation, order a takeaway instead of cooking dinner or opt for dry shampoo. These quick fixes might save a little time, but on a regular basis, they can compromise personal values.
Under pressure, we often forfeit the things that really matter, like time with friends and family or sleep. A clear indicator that there is too much on your plate is if you are often answering emails after midnight, or putting the washing on at 2 am.
A lack of sleep is detrimental to our mental and physical health, it’s important to make time for things that matter.
So, we know that time is a limited resource and yet there are not enough hours in the day. What can we do?
Efficient time management
I have assisted a number of business owners to better manage their time. My approach has been to encourage them to:
- Think about what they want to achieve – a SMART goal
- List everything that they have to and want to do – work, home and leisure
- Clearly identify the priorities
- Decide who is the best person to take on each task
- Take action
Let’s look at these in a little more detail.
What is your goal?
The first step is to understand what you are aiming for. It might be perfectly reasonable to be giving it your all if you have the opportunity to get your dream job or pay off the mortgage early. A goal will offer you motivation when things are tough and it can help you to prioritise where you want to invest your time. If you lack a reason to be rushed off your feet, I’d suggest it is time to find a better work life balance.
Creating a list
I love a good list! It places all of those thoughts down on paper, or a project management tool such as Asana or Trello, freeing up valuable space in your mind. In writing things down, you can see the enormity of the task and you will have an emotional response to each item. Some will seem overwhelming, others quite exciting.
Prioritising your list
Certain items on your list are essential; they cannot be avoided. It is likely that several will need to be completed as a matter of urgency and these are the highest priority. You may also find other items on the list that really do not need your attention right now. I offered more tips on how to Conquer your To Do List in a recent blog.
Identify who should undertake the tasks
Just because an item is on your list, it may not be that you are the best person to do it. This can even apply to top priorities. Admittedly, it might take a little time to explain what you need when you first Delegate responsibility, but handing tasks over to someone else can help you to focus on those which require your knowledge and skills.
Equally, it is quite common that we are completing tasks in a time-consuming manner, when there are far more efficient ways of working. Being open to new processes can allow you to greatly reduce the time spent on tasks, without cutting corners.
My Virtual Assistant services focus on process efficiency, data analysis and customer engagement. I enjoy creating document templates, setting up CRMs and other systems and compiling data into reports. I research information, improve workflows and create branded style sheets that ensure that every document looks professional and consistent. In short, I support time efficiency.
Lists are great, but they mean nothing until you start acting on them. Is it time to delegate to a colleague, reschedule certain activities, book a training session, employ a cleaner or give me a call on 07549 900447? 3D-VA can help you regain control over your time.