I don’t know about you but I start the day calm and confident, thinking that I’m going to accomplish all the 14 items on my to-do list only to look at the clock at 4PM thinking “ Where did the time go? I still have 10 things to get done! ” If you’ve ever had that experience too, you know what I mean. Being self-employed can be a wonderfully freeing experience IF you’re able to manage your time well. I’ve been working from home now for the past 7 years and have tried many things in my quest for better time management. These simple and free time hacks that have worked for me so I hope they help you as well!
1. Make a list
I’m a compulsive list maker. I’ve been known to make grocery lists then leave them at home but recall all the items on the list anyway. Something about writing things down really helps me commit them to memory, at least for the short term. Since I left the lists at home more than once, that led me to my next tip.
2. Put your list on your phone
There are many organizational apps out there but the one that I’m using right now is Wunderlist. I’m using the free version but you can upgrade for $4.99. The things I like about Wunderlist are that it lets you share your list with others and then anyone can add to that list on the fly. You can also add notes to each task or add them to your iCal. Plus, if you’re like me, you always have your phone with you so that eliminates the possibility of leaving that list on the table!
3. Set a timer
For me, the toughest thing to do is to make myself sit for at least 2 hours uninterrupted and sketch or draw. I love doing it but somehow always find things to distract myself. I have several freelancer friends who told me about setting a timer to accomplish daily tasks. I have to admit I was stubborn for awhile about doing this, thinking “I know how to manage my time! I don’t need a timer to help me out.” But then I tried it and now I’m hooked! I know there are also timer apps to be had but I just use the timer app on my iPhone. Each day I set a timer for 2 hours and do nothing but sketch or draw on the computer. My productivity has gone way up as a result and I feel more calm in the afternoon, knowing that I made progress on whatever project I’m working on.
4. Remember this: “ There is always, only, just this one step” -Eckhart Tolle
I love this saying by Eckhart Tolle. He has written very eloquently about living in the moment and whenever I get overwhelmed thinking I have WAY too much to do, I try to remind myself of these simple words. We can, in reality, only do one thing at a time. We can try to multitask but recent studies have shown that multitasking is a myth, as dividing your attention doesn’t really help you accomplish more tasks, but it can add to a feeling of agitation or frustration.
See The Myth of Multitasking by Christine Rosen: http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-myth-of-multitasking
5. Make time for something just for you
It’s really tempting to just go down that chore list marking off things like paying the insurance bill etc, but have you ever added something to your list that is not work related? I try to always add one thing to my list that I use as my reward for getting several drudgery tasks done--like meeting a friend for coffee or taking that Pilates class I keep saying I’ll take but never and time for. ( To me, finding time to go to the gym several times a week is a little gift I give myself that helps me stay sane and also step away from my desk.)
I hope that these few easy time hacks help you! Do you have some time management tips or apps that help you out? I’d love to hear about them if so!