As business owners we can easily get caught up with our long list of to-do’s (not to mention adding on the tasks of wife, girlfriend, mom, furr-parent, etc). You write everything down, have good intentions, and then it happens…you go from checking your Facebook messages to watching a video about a rescue dog. The next thing you know you’re donating money to some go-fund me account before you realize that you still haven’t checked your messages and nearly an hour has passed.
Those little lists seem like the end-all to our complete un-organization and scattered-ness (ya, it’s a word!). Once we make a list we often think “As soon as I get all of these items checked off, I’ll be organized”. We always have such good intentions in making a list and think that our tasks will get done quickly and easily.
Let’s be honest…what really happens is a day passes and we’ve barely checked anything off of our list and some days even added more to the list. Now, we feel even more unorganized and overwhelmed.
Just because it seems everyone is doing something one way, doesn’t mean it’s the right way for us (or our business). So, what do we do to get off this crazy, scattered, never-ending list train?
If you are not familiar with time blocking, I encourage you to check it out, especially if you feel like your list gets longer and you are never getting anything done. With time blocking, instead of creating a list of things to do, you create a schedule that includes the time to do certain tasks. So instead of getting sucked into (yet another) four-hour pinning-fest, we are more likely to stay on track because we know how long it will take to do certain tasks, we’ve scheduled the time out, and we’ve got an alarm.
For example, if you have a direct-marketing business and you need to write your weekly blog, send out a newsletter, and check up on a few clients via email, you probably have a list to do these things but, find yourself not getting them done. Instead of writing out each to-do item try figuring an estimate of how long each task will take (tip: the more you do this the quicker you’ll know exactly how long tasks take you).
How it works!
First, you’ll want to find a calendar that works for you. Whether you love online scheduling or you’re old school and want something you can carry around with you. I use a planner that I purchase each year but, I also keep client appointments scheduled using Google Calendar. Whatever works best for you! Want to try something now? Download my free printables and start using them now!
Now, grab your calendar (or login) and schedule your to-do’s! If it takes you 30 mins to write your blog post for next week, schedule it in “10:00-10:30 Write Tuesdays Blog” and then continue, “10:30-11:30 send out monthly newsletter, 11:30-12:30 Lunch with Ashlynn 12:30-1:00 follow-up with X clients and return any other emails”. What you have done is just taken care of your to-do list.
BAM! Did I just blow your mind?
Don’t forget to schedule in breaks, lunch, time to workout, etc. If you are just getting started allow yourself for extra time instead of crunching in so much. You’ll get a hang of how long it actually takes you to do certain tasks and you can better schedule in the future. Till then, you might want to allow 30 minutes to one hour at the end of each day to work on certain things that you did not finish yet. Just don’t forget to set your timer.
Note: Google Calendar allows you to schedule reminders that pop up on your computer and even your cell phone if you’ve connected it. I have mine let me know 1 minute before each task.
Why does this work?
Based on Parkinson’s law that states ‘work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion’ you are filling a time and getting it done based on the amount of time you should be able to complete it. Meaning if you set your schedule from 10-12 to write your blog…more than likely that is the amount of time it will take to write it. And even worse, if you don’t even schedule a time to take care of this task, you have essential just spent three days trying to get it done and not even getting started on it!
If you want to take breaks throughout your day in 15-20 min increments you can! Hop on Pinterest, pin a few recipes for dinner and hop back off. Luckily, there are several awesome apps you can download to help you with this. That way, you know when your 15 minutes of Pinterest fun are up! On my computer I use Focus Booster and set my timer according to the project scheduled. Another good app is 30/30 and although it is set for working 30 minutes and taking a 30 min break, you’ll see that it is very easy to change-up for each task and each break according to your schedule.
I encourage you to try this very productive method. Not only will your to-do list be covered with lines and big x’s from marking things off, you will feel so much better when you have a few minutes to actually take time for yourself!
xo, Christy Jo
Update: I now use Pomedoro Timer. Read about it >here<, I also have it on my iphone.