“Lost time is never found again.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Do you ever get to the end of the day and think ‘I feel like I’ve achieved nothing today?’ Or look at your to do list and it just seems to be growing with nothing getting crossed off?
These days it feels like we have less and less time to keep on top of our priorities, yet, we have more devices than we probably need to keep us connected to work, friends and family. And we never have to worry about missing an appointment with our electronic calendars doing all the memorising and reminding for us. It seems as though the more efficient our lives have become, the more we are cutting ourselves, and our time, short.
Working in the start-up world, I am constantly trying to find new ways to keep on top of my workload, spend time with my dogs, and keep up to date with the housework – which we all know can be the most painfully mundane task of all! And add to that making time for a social life – that elusive ‘optional extra’ for those who work in start-ups! Just how do we make time for friends, family and most importantly – ourselves – amidst all we have to do?
I found myself at a point where I realised that I had been reading the same book for almost 12 months and still hadn’t finished – and yet, it was a really great book! This made me think – there was something I needed to do to start managing my time better – to make sure I still had time for me.
Here are some tips that have helped me balance my work and life:
Make a list – When you’re having your morning coffee, use this time to plan your day. Note down everything you need to do from morning to night – including your down time. You could have two lists, one for work and one for home. You will be surprised how much you can achieve when you set these mini-goals. Remember though, we rarely underestimate how long things take us, so try to factor this in, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t achieve it all – there’s always tomorrow (unless it’s your Mum’s birthday or something like that…!)
Don’t move on until your first job is complete – We can find ourselves jumping from task to task without ever finishing one in earnest. Make a commitment to one task and don’t move your concentration to something new until this has been crossed from your list. Try using the 96 minute rule to help you find focus:
Being organised the night before – Nothing can ruin your day more than if we are running late and rushing around in the morning before work, meaning we usually skip breakfast. Tidying the house up, laying out our clothes and getting lunches ready the night before is always a good start. This way when you wake up, you don’t need to think about what shirt you’re going to wear or placing the cushions back on the couch where they belong (yes, cushions have places!). This will allow you more time to enjoy your breakfast, get the kids ready or even fit in a nice walk to start off the day.
Share the workload – Don’t take on everything yourself. Delegate tasks and make sure the workload is shared democratically. Think about creating efficiencies to eliminate some tasks – is there a digital tool or app that can automate the process for you or help you complete it in a more efficient way? Take a look at these articles by Michelle Smith from lifehack.org, to see if these time management and productivity apps will help you:
Finish work – End your working day at a fixed reasonable time each day. You can have two finishing times if this helps – one for an ideal day and one for the absolute latest you will work to on a not so ideal day.
Remember, it’s not always possible to get everything done. Make sure you’re setting yourself realistic goals to achieve. But most of all, make sure you’re setting time aside for yourself to enjoy life and be happy because those are the moments you will cherish and remember (not that email you sent at 10.49pm)!
Tara Ridsdale – THINKA Co-founder, Design