Mistakes to Avoid for Better Time-Management
I love a good plan, and creating a schedule is essential to more than my productivity. It’s truly important for my mental health and I do not say that lightly. I work with a lot of clients who’s schedule helps them feel grounded and calm.
The thing is, it takes practice to get good at making a schedule that works for you and making the most of your time.
Here are 3 very common mistakes I see (because I’ve made them, too) when creating a schedule:
Not having enough buffer time
It is oh so tempting to fill in every gap in your day and assume you can get things done faster by simply saying it will take less time. You’re also working on a lot of assumptions when your plans involve other people.
When planning out your day, it’s best to be more conservative than overly ambitious. If you usually get home from taking the kids to school at 8:30, do not plan a meeting at 8:30. Assume there is going to be traffic. If there isn’t, great, you’ve got extra time (see my post on key scheduling hacks so you know what to do with that awkward amount of time to fill) but your day won’t be thrown off when a very common occurrence happens.
Generally, buffer 15-30 minutes, depending on the task at hand. Time tracking will also give you a better idea of how long typical tasks actually take you. Take note of how long routine tasks take so you aren’t basing it on pure assumption.
I know that your fear is not getting enough done. Trust me, scheduling a little less and actually getting it done, especially without the pressure of a tight demanding day, is going to serve you in so many more ways than going full steam and feeling rushed.
Ignoring your feelings and natural flow
This trick will save you a lot of heartache. When you are asked to commit to anything, put yourself in that frame of mind and assess how that will feel. For example, a colleague asks if you want to co-host a webinar in 3 weeks on a Tuesday at 7pm. Picture yourself, Tuesday at 6pm. Will you feel stressed AF, or will it be no big deal to have this on your calendar in an hour?
This is obviously going to depend on what is being asked of you. For me, 7pm is around when we start our son’s bedtime routine and the hour leading up to it is his dinner and I’m either cooking our dinner or catching up around the house. If I am stoked about the proposition, it’s worth it to me. If I’m not, then there is no way I want to cram something into this time-slot. Think of your future self and how having that commitment will feel.
Also, look at your natural energy flow. I schedule creative tasks, like writing this post for example, in the early hours as much as I can. I cannot creatively focus later in the afternoon and definitely not after dinner. On the other hand, if I have a monotonous task like adding photos to blog posts or scheduling content for my Facebook Group, I can definitely tackle that at 8pm.
Know yourself. If you are a night owl you will plan more in the evenings, and if you’re a morning person (like most of my audience), your morning is going to start earlier and be more packed. There is not a universal right way to plan your day. It is truly what works best for you, otherwise, you’re fighting an uphill battle for productivity.
Being too rigid
Be honest, did I just personally attack you? I get it! I looooove with my day goes according to my plans exactly, but this is the real world and there are a lot of other factors at play here. I hear this a lot, “If I get thrown off and am 15 minutes behind, my whole day is off!”
Woah. Back up, and say that again. Your whole day is ruined because you ran 15 minutes behind.
Maybe you planned to spend 90 minutes on a work project, but yadda yadda yaddda, you actually end up with an hour. Get what you can get done and move on. That is a solid hour of work time you have if you stop gripping over not having 90 minutes!
After that, look at the rest of the day. If completing that work project is the most important thing, what else can me moved or cut back. Can you do a 30 minute workout instead of 45? Can you make a less time-consuming dinner? Could you have your spouse run to the store instead? Think outside the time-block, woman!
Getting creative with scheduling is my super-power. I’ve worked with moms running their own businesses, students who have internships and jobs, and everything in between. My goal is not to just get sessions in.
I help you look at that schedule that is overcrowded, pare it down (for one), but more impactfully, be more in control of it. Your schedule may still be packed, but you will know how to approach it. This is one of the things I am helping you tackle.