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The Key to Time Management is to Know Yourself

The Key to Time Management is to Know Yourself

This week we’ve asked Carrie Peeples , from Neatsmart to talk all about how they manage their time daily. Let’s get to chatting!

Q: Let’s start by being very real when it comes to managing time and plans for the day. Take this scenario, for example. You’ve created your to-do list, you’ve written in your planner, and now you are off to do your big things. Then, a client calls with a brilliant thought, your child can’t connect to the internet, there was a no show for your Zoom call, and on and on… How do you interrupt those off schedule and chaotic days to get your task back on track? 

A: I think the key to a lot of time management is to know yourself. I know I am good at doing creative problem solving and writing in the morning. The afternoons are better for less mentally challenging tasks. When I am interrupted, or plans don’t quite go the way I planned, I try to evaluate quickly how much time the change will take. Can I switch something on my calendar to another day or maybe take a call in my car in between appointments? I also try to use what I call “found time” which is the 5 minutes (or so) that show up as little gifts like NOT hitting traffic or getting something finished earlier. Is there something I can do in 5 minutes to help another task go smoother or quicker? Never underestimate what you can get done in 5 minutes. It can be a game changer! 

Q: There are many common methods to managing time (for example, chunk common tasks, time block) do you follow a particular method? If so, tell us what works for you and why. If you have your own method, we love ideas!

A: Again, I think it’s helpful to know when you perform certain types of tasks better. When I am writing or need uninterrupted quiet time, I also look to when the house will be empty (or other people are on calls) to get those tasks done. I think it’s important to break larger tasks down into smaller, bite sized chunks so it’s not so overwhelming. Something that will take you an hour to complete doesn’t feel so overwhelming when you carve out smaller tasks and get them done quickly. 

Q: Paper calendars and to-do list or digital or both? If you have a go-to tool that you use, please share it with us.

A: I am both! I need the visual reminders of a paper calendar plus I am a huge believer in writing things down as a method for increasing your chance of remembering something. My go to planner is here. I’m on my 5th! I love the Travel Time feature on the Apple calendar to help me figure out how long it will take to get to appointments. As soon as I book an appointment and write in my calendar, it goes in my phone.

Q: Many people like to end their Sunday by planning their week ahead. When do you plan your day or week? Do you separate this by work and family needs or look at it as one week ahead? 

A: My husband and I talk over Sunday brunch about what our upcoming weeks will look like. This helps me also think about meals for the week and what groceries I need to buy. I also like to clean out the refrigerator on Sundays prior to grocery shopping so I am starting the week with a clean slate. I’m a fan of writing out my to do list for the next day before I shut my computer off for the day. It helps me mentally process what I need to do and think about the next day. When I come into the office the next day, I spend less time scrolling mindlessly because I’ve already got my list going.

Q: When it’s challenging for us to accomplish all that we have going on and nothing is being given the attention we need it to have, what are one or two bits of advice you can share that might help us in these moments?

A: The first I would do is seriously evaluate if you really need to do that task that’s draining you. If you are the only one that can do it then I’d see if you could schedule it at a time that you’re more likely to be able to focus better. If you could punt it to someone else or just drop it altogether might be a better option.
Consider if you’re distracted by something else or maybe hungry or thirsty. Maybe you need a walk to clear your head. Consider what would happen if what you’re working on didn’t get done. What if you did nothing? What would change? Maybe you need to shift priorities and focus on something else.

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