How Do I Manage My Time?
I was recently interviewed by Julie Gray, COC®, of Profound Impact. Julie is the most awesome Time Management coach I have ever met. She is a “Time Saver Specialist” and is passionate about teaching entrepreneurs and business leaders a unique approach to aligning their work and life in a way that eliminates overwhelm, frees them to focus on the present moment, and keeps them centered and connected on their journey.
I prepared for the interview by jotting down my thoughts on a few questions from Julie. I thought you’d like to read them.
1. Walk us through a typical day in the life of a professional organizer.
I book client appointments in the middle of the day and I am usually out of the office between 4 and 7 hours each day. So I break up my day into 4 parts. A. Morning, before clients. B. Appointments. C. Afternoon, admin time. D. Evening, family and relaxing time.
A. I am an early riser, but I know that I am not fully awake and ready to work, but I do like to move around. This is the time when I do any house work that needs doing: empty the dishwasher, sweep the floor, tidy up the house, load laundry and fold clothes. I also check my email and watch the morning news. If I have time, I’ll exercise in the morning. I know that I can also focus well, once I wake up. So I spend some time at my desk in the morning working on a project to move forward. It helps me focus when I know that I have to leave for an appointment at a certain time.
B. I meet and work with clients.
C. When I arrive back home, I go directly to my office and do admin work for my business. The amount of time I spend on this is determined by what time it is, because I try to finish up by 5:00 or 5:30. My priority is to return calls before the end of the work day. I also respond to emails, invoice clients, doing any writing that needs to be done, like writing a blog post, doing association work, posting on facebook, etc.
D. I try to end my work day by 5:00 or 5:30, go downstairs and make dinner. I like to cook and it’s important to spend time with my family members. Sometimes, I do take some classes by phone or internet in the evenings. But I also know that my brain slows down by 8 pm, so I try not to do anything important or critical after that time. It can wait until the next morning.
2. What organizing or time management systems do you use to juggle all that you have going on?
I rely on my google calendar. I have it up on my computer screen all the time and I access it on my phone as well. On google, I have a work calendar for each one of my employees and one for my work appointments and also a personal calendar for myself. I like the color coding. It makes it easy to identify which calendar that I am looking at.
I am basically a “Nothing Out” person. So I know that I work best with nothing extra on my desk. But, I do like to see what I have coming up for the week. So I use a in/out box system that hangs on the wall next to me desk. I have 5 boxes labeled Monday through Friday and then 5 more boxes labeled: weekend, Basic Organization, follow-up, groups, and personal. This allows me to keep out paperwork that I use often or need within the next few days.
I use these bins by planning or laying out my week on Sunday. I like to have that visual to feel prepared for the upcoming week. Every morning I take everything out of that days bin and quickly review what is on my plate for the day.
3. Was there a particular habit or commitment that you made to take your organization to a new level?
I was an organized kid. I liked to make sense of space by putting things away. But I definitely became more organized, focusing on time management when I had children.
I got frustrated that I could not maintain the level of order in my life as soon as I was responsible for other people. At the time my husband and I worked full-time jobs and had to deal with day care, sleepless nights and the chores of life. We found that we never had time to relax. I felt like I couldn’t continue on this roller coaster for another 20 years, so I started looking at work smarter not harder. I think I succeeded because I focused on one thing at a time; changing how we shopped and planned meals, changing when and how we ran errands, and changing how we did chores around the house. I continue to make small changes, since my life continues to evolve.
One thing that worked great for my family was having a family calendar. It was a monthly laminated poster that lived on the side of our refrigerator. I used it religiously. I wrote everything on there. It was a great way to communicate with every family member and also a great way to teach my kids the concepts of time management and planning.
I do believe that time management is the key to living a more organized life.
4. Is there anything you wish you did more of? Less of?
I want to fine tune my business operations. What I mean is that there is so much technology and information out now about working smarter, not harder. I want to learn how I can apply this to my business.
By doing this, I hope to be able to spend more time relaxing with a book, on a beach or even in my backyard.
5. What advice would you give someone who is in the process of upleveling their own life organization?
Focus on making one small change at a time. The process is slow, but the return on your time investment is greater. By changing one small thing like, sorting through your mail each day instead of letting it sit on the kitchen counter, or practice using your planner or calendar to write down everything, or setting up a schedule to do laundry, you will create lasting change in your life.
It would also be helpful to find an accountability partner. Just someone you can tell your plan to and then report on your struggles and your success.
Check back in a few days. I will post the link to the interview.