When times were quiet, I used to admire and even envy people who had a two-page list of things to do. They never reached the end of it. They just kept working on the most important items at the top and didn’t stress about the items at the bottom. Now, my ‘to do’ list is like that. I know what it feels like to be overloaded, and I don’t envy them any more!
Here are some techniques to keep on top of things instead of letting them get on top of you.
A few months ago, I had a call from a startup business-owner who was overwhelmed with her marketing ‘to do’ list. I suggested she write her 40 most wanted activities on scraps of paper, and put them all in a jar. (We chose 40 assuming she works 40 weeks of the year.) Here are some examples:
- Go to a networking event
- Write a guest blog post
- Cold call your dream client
She blocks out one hour every Friday, picks out a piece of paper, and commits to doing that activity during the following week – but only if it feels good to her in the moment. If it doesn’t, the piece of paper goes back in the jar… or into the bin.
I had a friend who was emigrating, and had an impossible amount to do before she left. She was too panicked to organise herself, so we sat down and made two lists: Need to do and Nice to do. She agreed to work on the Need to do items and ignore the others until those were complete.
In corporate life, I learned about the urgent/important grid for time management (the Eisenhower Matrix). You should:
- DO anything that’s both urgent and important
- SCHEDULE what’s important but not urgent
- DELEGATE things that are urgent but not important
- ELIMINATE whatever is neither urgent nor important
When I started my business, I prided myself on responding quickly. Sending quotes within two days, for example. Now that I’m booked to capacity and spend so much time travelling up and down the country, it’s not so easy for me to do that. So, from April, I’m working with a new Executive Assistant – Sharon, she’s brilliant! Sometimes, you might hear from her before you hear from me.
Also, I’m building a team of copywriters I can outsource to at busy times. Watch this space for further news about this.
And finally, thanks to insights from my business coach, I’ve been practicing how to keep my mind clear even when I’m really busy. That means I can focus 100% on one thing at a time before turning to the next one, without worrying about all the things I haven’t managed to fit in. It’s called the Three Principles understanding, and has transformed my experience of work and life. Please ask if you’d like more information about this.
What strategies do you use to manage today’s hectic lifestyle?