October 30th, 2010 Archive

Block Your Time

October 30th, 2010 by Ric in Lifestyle

There are 24 hours in a day. For most people, 6 to 8 hours are for sleep, another 2 go to meals, and just under an hour goes to showering, brushing teeth, and bathroom breaks. This leaves between 15 and 13 hours for work, playing with the kids, doing chores, and other things. Some might look at this and say they don’t have enough time. I say otherwise. This is a lot of time as long as you use it wisely. 

Denise Landers has an article up on Healthy Wealthy n Wise about Time Management Training. She talks about a couple of young children playing with bricks that came in small, medium, and large sizes. She explains that at first, “there was no understanding of larger pieces providing a stronger foundation for the smaller pieces and so things would come tumbling down without using all of the bricks.” Soon, they learned that “if they started with the biggest size, they were more likely to be able to use all of the bricks.” 

Like the structures they built, our daily schedules are also made of different sizes of blocks – and choosing the right blocks first determines how well our schedules are constructed. 

Large Blocks – Your Day’s Foundation 

Denise recommends starting with “an uninterrupted block of time when you can focus on difficult, involved projects.” When she says uninterrupted, she means it – unless you’re really expecting a specific call or email, put your phone on silent and switch of your email alerts. 

Do this for around an hour and a half each day, and you’ll be surprised how much you accomplish. If you can’t find that much time, you can get a significant amount of work done in an hour, or even 45 minutes of uninterrupted time. 

Medium Blocks (Grouping Blocks) – Multi-Tasking Isn’t Always The Best Option 

Returning non-urgent calls, going through email, reviewing notes, and other tasks can be assigned their own blocks. These blocks can vary in size (or length), but the key is to stick to them. If you still have unread messages after your half-hour email block, don’t worry – you’ve got another email session later in the day. 

The second part of this header is about multi-tasking, which according to Denise, as well as other experts, slows you down. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “spreading yourself too thinly,” you’ll know that trying to do too many things leaves you with less time, energy, and  

brain power to deal with each of your tasks. Don’t agree? Try this online game called Multitask (yes, I sometimes play games too), and see how well you do. 

Small Blocks – The New Items and Lower Priority Tasks To Be Handled

The small blocks are there, as the header suggests, for new items and lower priority tasks. You can probably find some gaps between larger blocks, and these small blocks will probably fit right in. Denise includes “requests for help from a colleague, quick answers to questions, filling out forms, and other project components” among these small blocks. 

I think it’s also important to think of the even smaller blocks that she doesn’t mention. These are very important, and they can also fill out your day quite nicely. I’m talking about little breaks you take during the day to stretch, take a deep breath, call home to speak with your kids, and simply remind yourself that the day isn’t all about work. Since they’re pretty small, you can sprinkle them throughout the day without being forced to move other blocks. 

Another one of our contributors, Danielle Kubus, has 10 Time Management Tips For Small Businesses up on Small Business CEO Magazine. Let’s start with number one: 

1. Recognize you can’t do it all

It doesn’t matter if how many hours there are in your day – the fact is that you can only do so much in any given amount of time. Some things will just have to wait, or be left to others. 

2. Figure out your time-wasters

If we lose track of them, some of our tasks somehow eat up most of our time. For me, it’s handling all my emails. Whatever it is, you might be surprised how much time you spend on it once you start keeping track. This then leads us to the next point… 

3. Set time limits for all tasks

This is quite similar to Denise’s tips on blocks of time. It’s important to block off time for your important tasks, and put a leash on your time-wasters 

4. Develop routines and stick to them

Setting routines simplifies things and gets our minds and bodies used to certain tasks. This leads to better productivity. 

5. Learn to Delegate

This goes back to the first point – you can’t do it all. Figure out which tasks you absolutely have to do and work on those. Other people can take care of the rest. 

6. Take advantage of “down-time”

You need to stay sane, right? Take a break every so often and look over your schedule. Do you need to move things around? Your down-time is the perfect time to re-plan your day if you have to. It’s also the best time to stretch, breath, call your kids. Wait, I said that already earlier, right? 

7. Stay Organized

Danielle recommends that you “take time at the end of each day to organize your desk, inbox and emails. By doing so when you come in the morning, your desk will be clean. You will know what tasks need to be completed first and what emails to respond to.” I don’t think I could have phrased it better 

8. Use the 80/20 Rule

“80% of your success comes from 20% of your efforts,” so goes the rule. If you can figure out what that 20% is, you can focus your time and effort on that, and as Denise suggests, assign some big blocks for that. 

9. Keep your “to-do” list short

Danielle recommends having “no more that eight items on your list.” Again, we go back to #1: there are only so many hours in the day. Making the most of your day doesn’t mean cramming everything you can into it. Figure out what’s important, and when you get that done, you’ll know you made the most out of your day. 

10. Have you hired a Virtual Assistant?

You can’t do it all, and you have to delegate – and this is why Danielle recommends hiring a Virtual Assistant. Liz and I wholeheartedly agree. We outsource everything possible which is why we actually went to the Philippines – directly to the source for amazing outsourcers. . If you want to know more about how to do it yourself, go to http://www.OnlineOutsourcers.com . You should consider hiring one too. 

All of us get 24 hours each day – some just know how to fill that time better. Figure that out, and you’ll see that 24 hours is plenty. 

Until next time,
Ric


Image by: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net