- You don't have to do it all. We women can have it all, right? The common misunderstanding is that we have to do it all in order to have it all. If you doubt it, do a search for “busy business woman” images online and most of the pictures will feature a multi-armed woman juggling an infant, a frying pan, a cell phone, a computer, cleaning products and a briefcase. And smiling like she’s on mind-altering substances. Don’t buy into that!
- Outsource. One trap for women here is "I can't afford it!" And that's because women tend to undervalue themselves. If I charge $80 an hour for my consulting services and it takes four hours to clean my house, wouldn't it be more economical for me to hire someone for $100 to take care of the floors and dusting while I used that time to earn the money to pay for it?
- Done is better than perfect. Another trap is perfectionism – the antithesis of effective time management. Maybe you are the goddess of laundry, but surely the kids will pick it up soon enough. Look at it as life training for them so they can become mature, responsible adults who can take care of themselves…and let it go.
- Focus on the ROI. One of my business mentors keeps pounding on me – focus on the ROI! And his advice holds true for time management as well. What is the return on investment for your time? It doesn’t have to be monetary – using the example of hiring a house cleaner, wouldn’t you rather spend those four hours pampering yourself or enjoying quality time with your loved ones?
- It's not about the list. Members of my Time Tips Facebook group know I’m a list fanatic. Yes, we need to have a prioritized task list that focuses, first and foremost, on what's important. Doing things is not the same thing as getting things done.
- Start with the end in mind. Where do you want to end up? What's your goal? Start there and plan backward.
- Take care of the important and urgent will take care of itself. When you thoughtfully plan your activities, focusing on accomplishing the most important things first, you won’t be spending as much time putting out fires. As an added bonus, effective time management will allow you to handle emergencies and unexpected matters with grace and aplomb – and time.
- Don’t multitask. Multitasking is inefficient. You NEVER pick up exactly where you left off when you bounce from task to task. There is always that, “Gee, where was I?” moment that eats into your precious day. If that’s not enough, consider the results of a study done at Kings College in London: Multitasking reduces your IQ by 10 points. I don't know about you, but I don’t have points to spare.
- Create “inside time.” Women have boundary issues. They feel they need to be available to anyone, at any time. The end result: Everyone else’s priorities come before theirs. So here’s a nice solution: Print up a sign that says, “Do not disturb between the hours of X and Y.” Put it on your door and close the door. Don’t answer your phone. Don’t check emails. Don't browse the web. Focus on your important task and get it done.
- Build self-care and fun into your schedule. The point of good time management is to give you a life that’s worth living. This is why time management is important -- not so you can cram 10 pounds of stuff into a 5-pound bag.
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