Why is a money coach writing about time management? Because I’ve discovered that we often have the same behaviour patterns around the way we use money and how we spend our time and energy. For instance, before I got into the habit of cashflow planning my pattern around money used to be “feast and famine”.
It wasn’t until I took part in a CBT-based research project on fatigue in Rheumatoid Arthritis that I realized that I had a similar “boom and bust” pattern in the way I used my time and energy. Others might find that time “disappears” just as money does. And just as we can get stressed over not having enough money to do all the things we need or want to, we can easily get stressed over “so much to do and too little time to do it in”.
I’m single, but I need to juggle my health needs with those of my business and my social life. I suppose this is very familiar to anybody with a family, especially “mumpreneurs” with small children. But how can you expand time? After all everybody has 24 hours in the day; no more no less.
Just as having clarity about my needs and desires and what my priorities are help me manage money better, and even expand it, so does having clarity about what I need and want to get done and clarity about what my priorities are, help me manage my time and energy better.
When I draw up a cashflow plan I first need to know what I need money for. In the same way I need to know what needs to get done and when; i.e. I need a “to do list”. I like to colour-code mine, so that certain things stand out immediately. And I use a weekly grid. Below is an example of one of mine for a recent Wednesday. Like many self-employed people I sometimes take time out in the week and make up for it at weekends. Therefore my list includes weekends. And I use my own personal “shorthand” for the various tasks.
|Declutter mydoc (WEFHS)||Blog||Blog||Mutti||Blog||Statements||Blog||My docs > laptop|
|NL article re SCs||Paddy||Blog||Co-op Statement||Blog|
|Martin – French pages||LinkedIn/ |
Facebook – Q&B
|10.00 SoleTraders||Commer |
|Vision||French||ST follow-up||Blog||Collection money|
|Boots -specs||IG minutes – print out|
|Diary of events||PRG actions|
|Helge flag, Umckalobao||German Book|
|Website strategy||Week 1 Figures|
|Update QB |
|Philip Jones – quote for QPSW||Declutter outlook|
|Cashflow forecast||Declutter tray|
|End-of-month QB||Workshop actions|
|Nov/Dec figures||19.30 French class||19.30 Elders||Metho-trexate|
|IG handover files|
I tend to enter things into the grid as I go along; i.e. as tasks present themselves. Then I create the final list for the following day just before I shut down my computer.
A few years ago I was introduced to the 4 quadrant approach to time management. I don’t know where it originates, but for me it works very well in conjunction with the “to do” list, because it helps me decide what is really important to me and where I want to invest my time and energy.
First thing in the morning I allocate the tasks from the “to do” list to the various Quadrants. Suddenly the whole list looks much less daunting and more manageable. And sometimes certain tasks will get moved to another day immediately, because in the clear light of morning it becomes apparent that it would be unrealistic to expect to do everything on the list.
(if procrastinated over
may end up →)
Week 1 Figures
(beware might be someone
(try to delegate)
IG minutes – print out
|U R G E N C Y|
For most of the actions in the right upper quadrant I use what I call the “piecemeal” approach. Most of them are bigger projects. Instead of stopping everything to get on with the one(s) where the deadline is closest I do a little bit on a variety, preferably all of them. I might either give myself a time limit or just carry on until I come to a natural pause. Then I have break, and when I return to my desk I’ll get on with something else.
However, I will tick off the task I have been working on, even if the project is incomplete at this point. I once read that ticking things off on a list releases endorphins (the hormones that make us feel good) in the brain. It certainly works for me. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction.
I use the same approach with those annoying things in the lower right quadrant, since I haven’t got anyone to delegate to. For instance, if the trays on my desk are overflowing, or I have a huge backlog of emails in my inbox, I will just take one piece of paper, or one email, and do something with it, that is enough to get this task ticked off, and eventually they, too, will get cleared up.
At the end of the day I look at my list and am constantly amazed at how much I have achieved in the day and how quickly I do complete the bigger projects, usually ahead of schedule. Thus I expand time.
“But”, I hear you say, “what if I’ve got a feverish child at home, who’s kept me up all night and needs my loving attention?” When these things happen I remind myself of the German proverb “Papier ist geduldig (paper is patient)”. The items on my list are not going away and can wait. I just make sure that if I have to miss appointments or deadlines that I send my apologies in good time. Then I “give in” graciously and go with the flow. It’s actually quite nice to have a break from lists and schedules once in a while.
I’d love to hear how you expand and manage your time, and what you do when life happens and things “go wrong”.