The secret sauce of effective time management is discipline. The cruel truth, my child, is that if you want to get more things done, you must have the discipline to get your ass out of bed, often before the sun comes up. This is a habit best established when the days are getting longer.
According to new research by Christoph Randler, professor of biology at Heidelberg University in Germany, morning people are more proactive and therefore more successful in their professional lives. Morning people anticipate problems and try to minimize their impact; spend time identifying long-range goals; and feel in charge of making things happen. So rise and shine, cupcake.
Another time management essential that you must have the discipline to incorporate into your schedule is transition time. Whether moving from one task to another or traveling from one meeting to the next, the only way to ensure that you will be efficient, productive and get where you are going on time is to take into account each time consuming step of the process.
In other words, be realistic about how long it takes to go places and do things and give yourself adequate preparation and execution time. Avoid over-scheduling. Build in little cushions of time where possible, to better manage annoying, schedule-destroying delays like lines at the post office.
The idea is to successfully roll through tasks and appointments and preserve your sanity, if not your sense of humor, along the way. Besides, if there are fires to put out and you’re too tightly scheduled, things will fall apart and you’ll be back where you started.
Oh , and manage your emails, rather than letting them manage you. Do not let them seize control of your day. Particularly if you receive a huge volume, assign 2-3 blocks of time each day for email read and respond. Institute email triage.
If something time sensitive and high priority is on, you may prefer to check for incoming messages throughout the day and decide what requires a faster response. While doing that, delete the nonsense emails and lighten your load. When answering emails, respond first to the “short answer” messages and then tackle the “long answers”.
Some form of social media participation is now on every Freelancer’s schedule, like it or not. No one is sure what any of it does for business, but very few feel confident enough to ignore it. Keeping up with this stuff can siphon off much valuable time if you’re not careful.
Limit time spent on social media and while you’re at it, think about the extent of your involvement and the ROI. Do you really need FaceBook and Twitter? Must you go through the LinkedIn Answers Forum every day?
Yet another source of time theft are manipulative, controlling people. You have no doubt encountered your share of those who feel entitled to dictate how you spend your time, quickly resorting to whining, badgering and other forms of verbal arm wrestling to force you into doing their bidding. They may be neighbors, family members, so-called friends or clients. Set good boundaries and be prepared for uncomfortable moments as you put a few people in their place. Have the discipline to say “no” and stick to it.
Have the discipline to bring time management into your life. Missed deadlines, lost opportunities, exhaustion and burn-out are not what we want. Applying our skill set to work that we enjoy and generating an income that we deem satisfactory is what the Freelance life is all about. Effective time management, along with SMART goals and objectives—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely— will help us get there.
Thanks for reading,