When it comes to time management, being a single mom with my own business often feels like I am in my own Star Wars movie fighting time where “The Force” is the well-balanced life I am striving for, and the “Evil Empire” is the mountain of work I have to contend with on a daily basis that feels like it is overtaking my life and health. Learning time management techniques, prioritizing tasks, and creating a process of efficiencies was a step I had to learn fast if I was going to keep working effectively with my clients to meet their needs, and in turn, teach these skills to them as well. So if you’re feeling that your work life is imbalanced, your health is suffering, and that you are just treading water more than half the time, read on – for you might feel “The Force” when you have come to the end of this article.
Time Management Prioritizing Tasks are covered in the last blog, “Stressed out at work? Try these 8 valuable time management lessons. Now let’s focus on creating processes of efficiencies so that you can take back your work-life balance.
Effective Time Management Processes that Will Bring You Work-Life Balance
We can’t do everything, so it is important to focus on the most important areas by prioritizing your tasks and then create efficient processes for the areas we can’t get finished. Here are examples of efficient work processes:
- Hire an assistant, a virtual assistant, or ask your current assistant to take on more for you like weeding through your email and taking care of everything they can, and forwarding you the most important emails. If there is no budget, consider a virtual assistant that you pay for yourself. The benefit may far outweigh the cost if you can become more effective and get more promotions. Just make sure your virtual assistants sign a non-disclosure clause and have your boss approve it. Having someone go through your email requires you to notify others to contact your personal email when there is something sensitive or personal they need to send you. This can save hours of your day.
- Delegate whenever possible. If you’re in a management position, especially a director-level or higher, you should not be in the trenches doing lower-level work unless you absolutely are forced to due to an emergency situation that has arisen. Farm it out somehow.
- Set up your email with your team on Slack. More and more people are setting up their team communication on Slack to eliminate lost efforts spent on reading and getting side-tracked by internal and external junk mail. Some people have eliminated email entirely using other methods to communicate via work and personally.
- Get a project management online software tool like Basecamp, Trello, Asana, or Zoho. Even use a Google Sheet that you share if you have no budget. These will keep your team on track. I prefer Trello and Asana because of its visual organization and drag and drop feature, but you can’t go wrong with any of these options. Zoho has a huge list of products that integrate together to create full solutions.
- Try to condense or avoid meetings. I know that this is a bit blasphemous, but you all know what I am talking about. Ever read Tim Ferriss’s “The 4-Hour Work Week” or been to his site? Sometimes meetings are needed for valuable input, feedback, buy-in, etc., and sometimes they are not. Make sure they are truly needed, and again, utilize Slack or something similar to get meeting items attended to without an actual meeting.
- Always focus on the priorities of your boss and sponsor (the person that is helping you move forward two positions or more above you) first. If you are lost in the minutiae of your job’s day-to-day and not directly answering your boss or sponsor’s requests, you will be downgraded in some fashion in their eyes through your reputation of not being able to perform or achieve needed results.
Here are some examples of personal efficient processes you can incorporate into your home life:
- Set up automatic bill pay. For bills that come in monthly, set up automatic bill pay and have the bills emailed to you so you can review them to make sure nothing is strange. There is fraud in every form these days, and when I hear that someone is not comfortable paying their bills online, I understand, but there is just simply fraud everywhere. I live in a nice neighborhood, yet there is a string of mailbox break-ins that have been occurring lately and it seems to be more and more prevalent. If you are concerned about online fraud, set up a separate “auto bill pay” account that you transfer money monthly into it. You won’t have to go through so much mail, miss payments, jeopardize your credit, and you can feed all of this data into your tax or accounting software through your bank easier at the end of the year.
- Set up TextMail. Tired of answering voicemails? For $5 a month at YouMail, all of your voicemail will be captured via text and you can view on their phone app. It saves me from answering solicitations and listening to slow messages from verbose people. Maybe that sounds mean, but again, I am a single mother with a business where I want to help a lot of people. I am kind of busy.
- Five A.M. Club– This club is a little controversial and hard for late-night people, but apparently, studies show that you are most productive if you get your brain and body moving early in the morning. You have clarity, your brain will regenerate cells better when you are exercising at the beginning of your day, and you can meditate on your what you are grateful for so that you can start your day with good energy. Studies even show that if you start your first half of the day with a cleared space of 1.5 hours of uninterrupted time dedicated to your biggest project, opus, or whatever masterpiece you are creating, you will be more likely to get your project completed over time. Robin Sharma has a great mapped-out routine to get you going. To find out more about this, check out: http://www.robinsharma.com/blog/06/be-wise-early-rise/.
- Workout in the Morning- Try also to include working out in the morning if possible. It revs up your metabolism and regulates your energy for the day. We all know how easy it is to let the day get the best of you, and the workout is typically put on the bottom of the list. Your health is the most important component here because if you are not functioning well, it will affect all aspects of your life.
- Hire House Cleaning Help- My ex and I had this philosophy that we either hire a house cleaner or get more therapy. And truthfully the therapy was not helping our situation, but at least the house cleaning did. I am kind of a freak about people going through my personal stuff, so when I have house cleaners come, they do everything but my bedroom. My kids are the same way. They do not like their stuff to be bothered. It has worked out well. We are each in control of our own rooms, and then the house cleaners get the rest including bathrooms, windows, floors, ovens, and refrigerators inside and out. Hooray!
- Have Kids or Neighborhood Kids? Put them to work for pay. I fully believe in child labor when it comes to my own kids. They need extra money sometimes, and I always need help. I pay them for chores and random things like folding the laundry sometimes. My oldest will pick up my son if I am running late with work. I pay them fairly because I do not want them to feel used by our situation. But if they do a poor job, I give them a chance to amend their work because their pay is based on performance, otherwise, they aren’t paid. They “learn to earn” and become responsible for their own money. There is a sense of pride for them when they make a choice “to buy or not to buy”- and I get to stay out of it. They never ever ask me for extra money. This does not mean that I do not offer when I feel it is appropriate or necessary, but they really learn the value of working and earning money, while building their capabilities and confidence level- and more importantly, you get additional help when needed.
- Hire for Any Low-Level Work You Have Around Your House- How do you think high-level people make it to where they are? They have learned the art of delegating and focusing on higher level tasks. It is an art form that once mastered, could make a huge difference in your weekly workload! For every task that you do for the next few weeks, think- can I “farm this out” somehow? Will it pay off for me in the long run? Keep a journal for this and see where you end up. It could be life-changing!
- Create a Work-Life Balance Grid – As proposed by Mitchell Harper (Insane Growth), this grid is a great way of balancing all parts of your life. By focusing on the top two or three goals each month for each area of your life, you will feel like you are getting more traction. Create a 6-square grid in Excel or Google Sheets and make sure there are six lines in each square. Label each box as Career, Family/Closest Relationships, Finance, Health, Personal Growth/Honoring Passions, Community. The sixth line will become your bottom line to rate on a scale of 1-10 how satisfied you are in this area (10 being the highest). By looking at this weekly and rating it, you can focus on different areas that are rating lower until areas become more balanced overall.
Got any efficient processes that you have mastered that has really been a game-changer for you? Please comment below. We would love to hear from you!
Career Strategist & CEO of Career 5
If you want to further your career to a higher place, try strategizing and maximizing your efforts with our guided system: The Career 5 Roadmap. It comes free with our career coaching and is a fun process that teaches you how to take control of your career treating it like your own personal business. Think YOU Inc.