One observation I hear again and again when people talk to me about my career is “gosh I don’t know where you find the time”
Another slightly more irritating comment usually made to me by aspiring authors or bloggers is “I wish I had the time to write a book/blog” the underlying tone being that unlike them I am obviously blessed with a bank of hours which I can just fill idly at whim with my various creative and business ventures. This is not the case.
The reason I get so much done, am able to successfully juggle a career as a writer, business owner, blogger, occasional TV producer and part time university lecturer is because I am a frigging time ninja.
I manage my time extremely wisely and because I believe there is real joy to be found from squeezing more out of our time I thought I would share with you my tips for getting things done.
Tip # 1 Learn your productivity rhythm
Know your productivity rhythm
This is especially key if you are self employed but also works if you are shoe horning writing or running a business around your job, childcare, studying etc. What I mean by this is learn when you are most effective at certain tasks and harness it.
I know that first thing in the morning once the school run is done, the kitchen chaos tidied and the washing on is when I am at my most positive, I see the day ahead and the fact that there are hours to be used makes me very happy indeed. I use this “go get em” feeling to answer emails, post up blogs,check dates for work bookings and generally get all my admin ducks in a row.
I do this at the kitchen table because I also move around the house to work depending on what mood I’m in or what type of work I’m doing.
By mid morning confident that I’m on track I then turn my hand to writing. I usually move into the lounge for this pursuit. Sitting by the window and type away until lunch. I know this time of day is when I am most creative so I get so much done.
My afternoons are a slightly more rushed affair as I have to down tools at 3pm to collect my little girl so I use these hours to do slightly less taxing jobs which can potentially be picked up again if I don’t get them finished, accounts, photo editing that kind of jag.
Tip # 2 Treat running your house as an essential job and manage it like a project
This sounds a bit Stepford wife like but let me explain. Unless you can afford help (I can’t I’m a writer/make up artist for gawds sake) chances are you still have to do the everyday tasks of cleaning the house, shopping and making meals, paying bills, taking pets to the vets and so on. Rather than view these as obstacles to your precious time see them as necessary tasks and schedule them in so they are done in the fastest most time efficient way possible. I have some time saving tricks which mean I always provide a cooked dinner for my family and the house doesn’t get too filthy.
The first one of these is that I often cook dinner mid morning after I have finished my admin tasks. During the week I tend to favour chillies, spag bol, curries,dishes which I can throw together first thing and once cooked leave on the hob to be reheated in the evening. This takes all of thirty minutes and means as I know I can feel quite knackered by about 6pm (this is my tired time, see I know my energy patterns really well) rather than feeling overwhelmed by the need to feed everyone dinner I can relax for a bit.
As well as this I also cram a lot into the time I have. For example before I go to my weekly zumba class I race around Aldi and do all my food shopping, this means I am often whizzing around the supermarket when most people are still getting ready to leave the house but by fitting in this task I then have the rest of the day to write and work. This rather mundane chore is now part of my weekly schedule and I know by doing it at that time the supermarket isn’t busy, I get my shopping done quickly and its a pocket of time I would otherwise spend doodling on social media as I wouldn’t have time to get stuck into any real work before my class. Similarly I tend to clean the house in spare pockets of time so I might clean the bathroom whilst waiting for a bath to run or hoover if I have a spare ten minutes before setting off for the school run.It sounds manic but it isn’t. I feel totally in charge and by running things this way I create time where I can sit and write uninterrupted for a good few hours a day.
Tip # 3 Turn off social media and the tellybox
I love a bit of facebooking, delight in twitter hashtags and can lose hours of my life on instagram. Which is why I don’t allow myself to be online constantly.
Its just eats into my time and before long I’ve wasted an hour looking at pictures of cats. If you want to write, create a business, pursue a dream you need to commit and this will mean being tough with yourself about time sinkholes which for me is definitely social media.
I allow my myself a fix in the morning, a quick dabble at lunchtime and then a longer perusal in the evening combined with promoting my own work and apart from that its off.
I close the tabs on my browser and put my phone with its seductive pinging in the other room. I’m also quite strict about TV watching. I am a total tellyhead so now only allow myself a few hours a day of choice stuff usually watched on Netflix or 4od. I don’t follow soaps because I know that’s time I will never get back and I would rather be using my time effectively. I don’t feel I’m missing out because I really enjoy what I do and I know that when I waste loads of time watching other peoples stories I get sad because I’m neglecting my own.
Tip # 4 Avoid Time Vampires
Making time for people is important. No Woman is an island and taking a moment from your busy life to interact with someone or ring a friend is part of what makes life fabulous but beware the time vampire. These come in many guises. Their concept of time is totally different to yours and they may well view the time you spend working on your writing, blog or business as nothing more than a hobby so they don’t respect that when you are working you are working. You may not be sitting in a glass fronted office or be wearing a pass around your neck but you are at work. Time vampires might pop around for coffee because they were just passing and are bored, hold you up at the school gates for twenty minutes moaning about someone you don’t know or a situation that has nothing to do with you or even be an overenthusiastic social media buddy who thinks you are an alternative to google and email you endlessly asking you where they can source something from. Never be rude, always be kind but mentally prepare yourself with a cruxifix and garlic and firmly let them know you need to be getting on.
Tip # 5 Work In Spurts
I have trained myself to be able to sit at my desk and even if I only have a thirty minute window in-between my daughters bathtime and bedtime to be able to instantly get my head down and get some work done. You don’t need ritual or a long lead time, these things will stop you being a time ninja, crack your finger joints, decide on which task fits your time slot and get it done.
Tip # 6 Don’t Be A Perfectionist
Perfectionism can be dangerously close to procrastination. So often people wont write because they believe if they are not redefining the modern novel its a waste of time, or they will put off setting up a business because they don’t have thousands for a swanky office and staff. If I could share one secret to my rather enjoyable varied working life its that I just do stuff.
I don’t spends days or weeks agonising as to whether I will be good enough, or people will like it or it will be a success I just have a try and let all that other stuff take care of itself. Sometimes it works, sometimes its a bust but its never boring and I never ever regret not doing things because chances are if I haven’t done it already I’m already planning when it can happen.
This attitude has seen me get a book deal, a teeshirt range that sells all over the world, opportunities modelling for a variety of brands and my work featured in National newspapers and magazines.Hard work and effective time management can help you turn your dreams into reality-trust me. Oh and now get offline and just do it!
Betty Pamper writes the daily blog www.pamperandcurves.blogspot.com
Photos by www.nickyrockets.com